Monday, November 17, 2008

Replacing "Interfaces" in the Insurance World

Currently in the insurance world - and probably in many other industries - there is an enormous amount of work being done to allow many different systems to "integrate" with each other.

"Integrate" as used here means to be able to pass electronic data from one system to another. The goal is to have the systems "talk to each other". Primarily this has been pushed as a way to avoid the dreaded double entry of data.

We have been working on a product revision that allows a wide variety of sharing and collaborations between many diverse users. Kind of a social service for business that lets you keep your business private.

As part of this service, we allow the user to add hyperlinks and embedded links to their portion of the site.

Why should "interface" not be replaced with links and embedded links?

The problems with direct data to data interface is either it never ends or it crushes innovation. Neither is a good solution.

Crushing innovation is good for the Applied Systems and AMS's of the world. It is good for proprietary company systems that want to lock you in to doing business only with them.

What if instead of getting a data dump to update your in house system, you got a link to the related document on the insurance company's system.

Here is a big plus for that - just one version of the document - everyone sees the same thing. No out of sync issues. Plus no storage space issues.

Plus - and of course the leading software providers of management systems will hate this - you would no longer need an expensive Agency Management system. You would only need a very inexpensive - or even free (Google Docs? Maybe?) - document management platform.

I can hear the screams from the establishment now. "We can't do that!" "You don't understand!"

My answer - Are we Americans or American'ts?

Of course the folks that are reaming you now for an obscene amount of money will say it can't be done. They might not have a job. Of course the companies that want you to only work with them - even though they don't offer all the products you need - will say you don't understand. They might have competition.

I think you do understand. I know it can be done.

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