ACORD Technology Conference 2000 To ‘E-merge’ in Orlando

By | May 15, 2000

Evolve, Emerge, E-magine” will be the theme of the ACORD Technology Conference 2000, to be held at the Contemporary Resort Hotel at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., May 21-24.

Rick Gilman, vice president-communications for ACORD, noted that this year’s theme is very apropos of who ACORD is, how it has evolved and emerged over the past year, and what it is working towards. “Imagine a world where information is shared seamlessly amongst all business partners-regardless of what system, what architecture, what platform you’re working with,” he said. “That’s what standards can help accomplish.”

Gilman said that the conference schedule this year includes an extra day (previously it has run only three days). “This is our eighth annual technology conference,” he said. “Each year it’s increased in attendance. We had around 1,200 last year and we’re expecting it to increase to about 1,500 this year.”

The year 2000 also marks the 30th year ACORD has been in business as a
nonprofit standards developer for the industry. It also marks a time when the organization is moving beyond national boundaries and looking into the more global marketplace.

“Now with the Internet and XML [eXtensible Markup Language], things have really taken off incredibly fast,” Gilman said. A great deal of focus will be placed on XML, the format for reusable data on the Internet, during the conference.

“It’s the next step in standards,” explained Margaret Lucas, ACORD’s associate director-communications. “Between globalization and the use of the Internet as a distribution medium for insurance and financial services, the gates are wide open now. What [the whole industry does] from here is going to take a focus on e-business.”

“We just finished working on an XML video with the Independent Insurance Agents of America in order to get word out to insurance companies and agents about the need to implement XML standards, and how that will impact their business and their workflow in the future as more and more business transpires on the Internet,” Gilman added.

Featured speakers at the three general sessions will be John C. Dvorak (author, columnist and editor), Nicholas Negroponte (director, media laboratory, MIT) and Chuck Martin (chairman and CEO of the Net Future Institute).

According to Gilman, this year’s event is attracting a lot of exhibitors that are beyond the typical agency management system vendors. He described these as being very much involved with systems development- middleware developers that work with insurance companies, agencies and other vendors, providing support and systems that integrate with existing systems.

“Not only has the conference/trade show itself grown in terms of the number of exhibitors, but the breadth and depth of those exhibitors and the amount of dot-com companies that are participating at our conference is just becoming overwhelming,” he said. “A lot of these new startups are interested in aligning themselves with ACORD because of the standards and the growing recognition that standards is an essential step in sharing information seamlessly amongst all trading partners.”

Many of the conference activities, including key workshops and special events, are covered on the ACORD Web site,, where visitors will also be able to access and download materials from the general sessions after the speakers have given their presentations.

Another important feature of the conference is the annual presentation of awards. “We give out awards every year that deal with upload and download and implementations of our AL3 [Automation Level 3] EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] standard,” Gilman said. In addition to those eight awards, Early Adopter Awards will be given to those companies that have implemented XML for property and casualty insurance, XML for life insurance, and, for the first time, AL3 for surety.

Although the official change in ACORD chairmanship takes place at the beginning of each calendar year, there will be a formal passing of the gavel from 1999 chairman William B. Jenkins, ECBM vice president, to new chairman Philip A. Eifert, founder and CEO of CyberCover. Retiring board members will also be recognized.

Gilman emphasized the significance of new additions to the board of directors, including Peter Nance, senior vice president of General Re Corp., and June Drewry, executive vice president of AON Group. Gilman noted that the presence on the board of a reinsurance company and large
broker reflects a growth and a change in ACORD’s bylaws which occurred in October 1999.

That change acknowledged “a need for standards development and involvement by not just property/casualty carriers that sell insurance through the independent agency distribution channel, but direct writers, reinsurance companies, risk managers and others both on the personal lines and commercial lines,” he said.

Gilman added that this atmosphere of growth and change is what will carry the organization forward. “Our global focus and working with other standards bodies throughout the world will continue to be an important aspect of where we’re going in the coming months and years,” he said.

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