- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

‘Plug and Play’ Insurance Technology: Data Standards Connect the Dots

Editor’s Note:  Greg Maciag, CEO of ACORD came across several of our posts, including Lost in Translation, and Living in the Past.  He offered some comments we thought readers would find interesting .  Greg agreed to put these into a blog post for us.

During the 1980’s, each piece of software was an independent entity. Spreadsheet, email and word processing were self-contained products.  Later, a few vendors attempted to combine all sorts of functionality into a single product, but the whole became less than the sum of its parts.  Basically, buying a single software product that was the “be all end all” was doomed.  Today, we have a few suites of related products from single vendors.  We enjoy the integration and accept the limitations and lack of innovation that result.  Most innovation tends to come from the “add-on” products from other vendors.

The insurance industry is very complex and keeping a single source of truth across all systems is extremely difficult.  It seems unreasonable to me that anyone can expect a single vendor to provide every single solution or innovation to brokers and insurers.  All vendors will admit that the name of the game is the ability to integrate with other software products.  They cannot be experts in every facet of the insurance business.

When you buy a stereo system for your home or any technology product for that matter, one of your main concerns is that it will work with whatever else you have installed.  This is where industry standards come into play. When vendors agree to become ACORD (or CSIO) Standards compliant, they look to a future where they can provide the best products and that they are open to integrate their products from other vendors.

We are on the cusp of a plug and play insurance world as we broaden the base of insurance data standards, but we are not there yet.  The 1980’s notion that a single vendor is all that a broker or insurer will ever need is not a forward thinking view.  It’s all about open industry standards for integrating disparate insurance systems.  In fact, this is why ACORD and CSIO exist.  If the broker has the “Truth”, the broker system needs to be able to spread the Truth to other systems, platforms, portals and mobile devices that brokers may need to use today and especially in the future as innovative solutions become available.  Industry standards connect the dots.

Greg Maciag is President and CEO of ACORD, a global, nonprofit standards development organization serving the insurance industry and related financial services industries.  With almost 40 years of industry experience, more than 30 at ACORD, Greg has developed a broad knowledge and understanding of the role technology plays in the global insurance marketplace today.