The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association announced Wednesday it has come away from an MSO summit with plans to focus on cybersecurity and developing a method to document repair procedure usage.
The neutral organization, which develops software standards so auto body repair stakeholders can more easily do digital business, announced Thursday the “overall ask” from MSO executives.
“One – Continue to build BMS solutions to deliver operational efficiencies for all stakeholders across the industry, two – Create a process to certify, document and seamlessly integrate across multiple systems the proper repairs were completed on a repaired vehicle in an ever increasing and highly complex vehicle substrate construction, and three – Further the integration of highly secure CIECA BMS standards among communication partners in information exchange to protect out customers and businesses in the world of data breaches and cyber warfare,” CIECA Executive Director Fred Iantorno said in a statement.
MSO executives quoted in the CIECA news release didn’t address any of these specific goals, but spoke instead to CIECA’s general value to collision repair businesses.
“This is a great start to a business discussion regarding business solutions, versus talking about bits, bytes, baud, and code,” Fix Auto USA President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Gange said in a statement.
“There needs to be a ‘reskinning of CIECA’ to create a non-technology image,” Caliber Chief Information Officer Janet DeBerardinis said in a statement. “Recognizing CIECA provides much more, they provide business benefits.”
Improved software benefits the entire collision repair industry and related sectors, such as insurers and parts providers. But larger companies like MSOs have perhaps even more to lose from software inefficiencies that encumber their IT infrastructures or create “time-is-money” physical inefficiencies, as these effects are magnified across the entire regional or national chain. A data breach can also be particularly frightening, both in loss of brand reputation and in damages from class-action lawsuits from the parties whose personal or business information is compromised.
And so, the “Top-2-Top MSO Summit” drew high-level executives like Chief Technology Officers and Chief Information Officers — “all the Cs,” Iantorno said — representing 80 percent of all collision repair MSOs.
“Dialogue at the senior level of leadership among the major facility operators is critical as the MSO’s industry segment is requiring streamlined automation of processes among their internal, external systems and with their trading partners,” Chad Sulkala, chairman of the CIECA Marketing Committee that spearheaded the summit, said in a statement.
“Focusing CIECA purpose and message to the C-Suite level accelerate the individual company benefit and overall efficiency value of CIECA to the industry as a whole,” continued Sulkala, the claims eCommerce program manager at Allstate.
“This was the first step of continued conversation with this growing industry segment. We view it as a tremendous success. CIECA will continue to meet with these industry leaders and will take these insights from top thought leaders to our strategic planning meetings in April to incorporate into our overall strategy,” said Iantorno.
Iantorno described a need to share more about what services CIECA offers. The organization found, for example, that many repairers didn’t know that CIECA’s BMS messaging created a means for invoicing.
“It’s a serious thing,” he said.
“This is all part of an education process,” Iantorno said later. CIECA’s trying to ask the industry what it needs and show how it has or can generate digital standards which will allow software companies to meet those demands. It’s up to collision repairers, insurers, and others to prod developers to produce such software.
CIECA’s like the neutral W3 Consortium which develops html standards. W3 creates and oversees the html language; it’s up to others to build websites using that standard. As Iantorno notes, CIECA doesn’t produce software; if it did, “we’d be in competition with 40 percent of our members.”
“CIECA doesn’t do it,” Iantorno said. “It defines what needs to be done”
As for the goals themselves, No. 1 is a no-brainer. Working on the Business Message Suite data standard, which allows automotive aftermarket and insurance software to “talk” to each other, is CIECA’s job anyway. Promoting BMS is also part of CIECA’s job, and doing so with an eye towards cybersecurity (No. 3) helps meet an important need for virtually any business with an Internet connection in 2017.
But No. 2, providing a means of documenting repair procedures were accessed, could help improve the physical world of collision repair as well as its digital element.
MSOs have been criticized for sloppy repair work and putting bottom-line-focused insurers ahead of customers’ vehicles — though quality concerns are by no means exclusive to larger collision repair operations. Evidence exists to suggest that a significant portion of the collision repair industry in general fails to access repair procedures consistently and/or hasn’t kept pace with modern repair methodology.
By creating a means for shop owners, insurers and OEM partners (FCA is running a similar check on its certified shops) to verify repair data access, CIECA will help keep large and small shops honest. You can’t claim “I didn’t know” (not that the excuse would necessarily satisfy a court anyway) if a new SOP demands techs access OEM sites. And technicians who didn’t even know where to look for this information will have to learn where to find it. (It’s easy: Use the OEM-designed OEM1Stop, I-CAR’s Repairability Technical Support portal or the Automotive Service Association-Auto Alliance’s OEM Research Center.)
So the fact that MSO leadership apparently wants such a quality control method reflects well on their companies.
Granted, accessing repair procedures doesn’t mean the job will be done correctly, but Iantorno argued that short of putting video surveillance nonstop on techs, there’s no way to check every step was done right in practice. Besides, while a few bad apples might log on but disregard the procedures in an intentional gaming of the system, most repairers genuinely want to do a good job, Iantorno said. Once they’ve accessed the procedures, they’ll follow the instructions.
Iantorno described the initial summit as producing ideas at the “50,000-foot level.”
“This is the first meeting,” Iantorno said. “More ideas will germinate.”
Subsequent meetings will outline a more specific direction for the repair procedure checks and “then we’re going to invite everyone to attend” — including stakeholders like ALLDATA, OEMs and information providers.
“Whoever steps up to the table, participates,” Iantorno said. “… We’re not going to stop progress because one company doesn’t want to participate.”
Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association, Feb. 9, 2017
Featured image: The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association logo. (Provided by CIECA)