Susanne Hale and James Mullarney propose an automated document factory for insurers in Property Casualty 360. They approach insurance operations from the point of view of document assembly and publication. It's an interesting way into the topic of systems architecture. They present an agent-based architecture: that is, they describe a number of collaborating roles like Identifier, Assembler, Distributor and Archiver which could be implemented as software services. The authors note that their factory approach requires standards-based data, and remark that standards are also needed to handle third-party data.
I applaud the idea of reimagining documents as the outputs of business processes. Documents have traditionally been seen as fixed objects that carry data - the document comes first, the data second. I think Hale and Mullarney are flipping this perspective around. In their view, insurers construct documents in order to carry data. Documents are the end product, not the source material.
In the ACORD community, we often argue for standards on the basis of their foundational role in improving business processes. This article makes the same argument but in reverse order. The authors focus on the need for better processes, and conclude that data standards are among the essential requirements.