This month, IBM announced it had donated its Insurance Application Architecture (IAA) Business Object/Data Model to ACORD to help promote insurance industry standards. ACORD plans to consolidate its existing object model and the IAA model, resulting in the ACORD Information Model Version 2, which will have added flexibility and will be more consistent with IAA. ACORD also plans to update their data models and deliver mapping documents to the ACORD XML standard. The Version 2 framework that includes all of the above will be available for sale for $100,000 to the public-or with a 100% discount for ACORD members. ACORD will deliver the models in a variety of formats, including HTML.
So, will this really help promote industry standards?
The ACORD AL3 and XML standards are the most adopted standards in our industry for exchanging data and transactions, and they aren’t likely to change because of this donation. The ACORD information and data models will certainly be improved as they are updated with IAA concepts and content, but adoption of the ACORD standard object/data models will not skyrocket in the short term. Adoption must start with the software vendors, which is likely to be costly unless they’re starting from scratch. A few major vendors are in the process of re-factoring their solutions with current technology-let’s hope that they will step up to the plate and implement an object/data model based on an industry standard.
Either way, a proven, robust, and lower-cost industry model benefits us all. Mature models like IAA promote quick understanding of the processes and data in the industry. Using the model as a starting point, analysis and implementation tasks can be accelerated. Conversation between the business and IT, or IT and vendors, can be more effective with the adoption of a well-defined vocabulary and visual representations of objects, data, and relationships. So kudos to ACORD and IBM for attempting to do the right thing for the industry.
The V2 ACORD Information Model is tentatively scheduled for release in May 2010.