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Collision repair software company NuGen IT last month said it had created a free workaround for collision repairers desiring to transmit BMS or EMS data files in 2018 without going through CCC Secure Share.
NuGen IT employee owner and business development executive Pete Tagliapietra described the free Collision Data Exchange tool during at the Collision Industry Conference and a press event during SEMA Week.
CCC Secure Share, which takes full effect in April 2018, will facilitate and encrypt communication between collision repairers’ software and that of their business partners using the standards developed by the independent, neutral inter-industry organization CIECA.
CIECA’s data standards provide a common language so a shop’s estimate information can to be digitally uploaded to a business partner or another estimating service. For example, say you need to buy parts for a customer’s car. Thanks to CIECA, you can convey whatever your parts procurement system needs to know from your estimate to the vendor without without anybody on either side having to rekey anything.
Under CCC Secure Share, which is live today, software can “talk” to each other using CEICA’s modern BMS data standard. In April, CCC will cease transmissions of the obsolete, less secure EMS standard CIECA hasn’t supported for more than a decade and has sought unsuccessfully to put to bed for good.
Shops will have greater data control and security under Secure Share than many might have been able to practically achieve on their own, and vendors will have an easy way to sell products to 19,000 CCC ONE users, but concerns exist over the cost of the transmissions to vendors and the level of control the No. 1 estimating system will have over the collision repair ecosystem as it serves as a clearinghouse for all communications. The controversy could leave CCC shops flat-footed and unable to conveniently exchange data with any business still clinging to the EMS data standard or any vendor refusing to join CCC Secure Share.
NuGen IT’s CDX “transformer” circumvents these issues by taking the PDF of a Audatex, CCC or Mitchell user’s estimate, extracting the relevant data, and spitting out BMS or EMS messages for the shop to use as they please or be transmitted by NuGen IT to business partners. CCC Secure Share still permits repairers to generate PDF and XLS spreadsheet versions of their estimates and store and distribute them, and Tagliapietra said that the information provider does not forbid a shop from sending those files into a workaround like his company suggests.
Tagliapietra said CDX should be ready by Jan. 1; NuGen IT has finished making it work with CCC, is nearly done with Audatex, and still working on Mitchell. (However, both CCC competitors have said they’ll permit BMS messaging for free.)
“This is not smoke and mirrors,” Tagliapietra said. “This is not vaporware.”
NuGen IT’s transformer is free to both existing NuGen IT users and the rest of the collision repair industry so long as NuGen IT is permitted to use and sell the data being decoded. However, no personal information will be used, Tagliapietra said.
“That information should be private,” he said. The company only wants to use aggregate and summarize estimate data, he said.
The shop’s vendors receiving the data will have to pay a flat monthly fee — but not a per-repair order charge, as with CCC Secure Share, according to Tagliapietra. He said Car-Part.com and CCC Secure Share critic Assured Performance are already on board but couldn’t disclose other vendor participants.
‘There’s value to it’
As Ellis & Associates founder and former Ford global technologist John Ellis has observed, data is worth so much that companies like NuGen IT can essentially offer products like CDX for free just to get more of it. Ellis, whom collision repairers will recognize from consecutive SEMA OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit appearances, has described Google and Facebook as prime examples of this “zero-dollar economy” and noted that a “zero-dollar car” offered free in exchange for sensor and usage data could be next.
“We don’t need to charge the transaction fee if we’re getting the data,” Tagliapietra said. “There’s value to it.”
Aggregate information coming from shop estimates has value to all kinds of entities, Tagliapietra said, citing industries like rental car providers, parts providers and ALLDATA at CIC and during the press event recalling a meeting with Allstate at which “the phrase was used: ‘It’s all about the data.'”
Tagliapietra gave the example of ALLDATA, which he called a “strategic partner,” to show how data had value. ALLDATA would love to know what OEM information is being used or what requests are being received to focus their business, he said.
We thought of a couple of other examples: LKQ references CCC quarterly frequency rates when discussing its sales performance in earnings calls to analysts. (We don’t know if LKQ’s paying for it or not, but you get the idea.) A rental car company might want to study cycle time to better estimate how long customers will be using their rentals in the future and so manage its vehicle supply among its branches. An OEM or aftermarket supplier might love to know how many of each part is repaired versus replaced when placing orders for future parts production runs.
Tagliapietra told the CIC audience that he couldn’t emphasize enough how much their data was worth, urging them to monetize it (or in his company’s case, trade it) instead of just giving it away.
“It’s your business and your decision,” he said, earlier calling it “ludicrous” that shops were giving out such information for free.
“Somebody’s making money on your estimates, even though you paid for a license agreement,” he said.
As for cybersecurity, Tagliapietra observed that BMS files (which are in XML format) aren’t inherently encrypted — someone has to manage the encryption and decryption. In the case of Secure Share, CCC will handle it.
For CDX, NuGen IT will do so. He said companies like his don’t get anywhere with insurers without cybersecurity, “it’s their way or the highway”
Tagliapietra’s software also checks for “data pumps,” software installed on individual repairers’ computers to hunt for EMS files (typically unencrypted) and send them to a business partner’s computer. Unfortunately, unlike BMS’ transmission of only estimate line items that a particular vendor’s industry would need, EMS sends the entire estimate — a serious security hole for you and your customer. Worse, a data pump can indiscriminantly send EMS files, including repairs for which you’re not even using that vendor. And still worse, it’s also possible that a vendor you no longer use is still receiving information from your system from a data pump you’d forgotten to uninstall.
CCC Secure Share will nip that problem in the bud in April by ceasing EMS transmissions. As for CDX, the software scans the repairer’s computer for data pumps, and “it’s not going to run” if it finds one, Tagliapietra said. He said some in the CIC audience probably had pumps they didn’t even know about.
Critics have argued that CCC Secure Share offers the information provider too much insight into which of its competitors are doing business with particular customers. Asked about why NuGen IT wouldn’t receive the same capability, Tagliapietra called it “a configuration issue.”
He said CDX facilitates a connection between a shop and a supplier, but whether that data is stored is up to the shop, he said.
“It’s really a customer choice,” Tagliapietra said. Like Mitchell’s “Project Freedom,” it’s also possible for a CDX user to receive and send files to a supplier themselves independent of NuGen IT; the onus would be on the shop or supplier to encrypt them in that case, according to Tagliapietra. (Or you could just send files unencrypted, but that’d be doing your customers a disservice.)
CIC, Oct. 31, 2017
Featured image: NuGen IT employee owner and business development executive Pete Tagliapietra described his company’s Collision Data Exchange tool during at the Collision Industry Conference on Oct. 31, 2017. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)