Acxiom’s 21 Year Relationship With Insurance Data Provider Shows the Value of Long Term Partners | Article
A 20-year relationship between database management outsourcer Acxiom of Little Rock, Arkansas and CCC Information Services (CCC) of Chicago, Illinois has provided stable information-based services to the auto insurance industry. More importantly, it underscores the deeper, strategic value of long-term outsourcing partnerships and how they positively impact the business of both.
CCC develops advanced software, communications systems, Internet, and wireless-enabled technology to automate the claims process and facilitate communication between insurers, repairers, and independent appraisers. Through its products and services, CCC aggregates and stores important claims information, which assists insurers and repair facilities to more efficiently and accurately arrive at claims resolution.
Because more than 20,000 repair facilities and 350 insurers use CCC, over time the company has developed a very refined database of claims-related information. Drawing on their 20 years together, CCC and its outsourcing partner work to ensure the information remains secure and accessible by authorized parties. Such a central data repository is vital in order for CCC’s client firms to mitigate the many sophisticated attempts at insurance fraud.
Strong, stable partnerships between buyer and provider are a requirement for outsourcing success. “A good working relationship requires constant evaluation and readjustment if it is going to produce economic rewards,” according to Elizabeth T. Gray, managing partner of Alliance Management Partners, a consulting and analysis firm based in New York City that helps organizations design, build, and manage successful alliances. “These rewards are much larger if both sides focus on cooperating to create value over time. By developing trust and managing long-term relationships, both parties can enjoy outsourcing’s fullest rewards,” she adds.
“Over the course of the last 20 years we have been able to develop many long-standing relationships on both the insurance and repair sides of our business,” says Jim Beattie, executive VP and chief technical officer for CCC. Beattie says the data these two parties share runs through CCC. “It’s our job, along with our outsourcing partner, to make certain the information is stored, accessed, and shared among authorized parties in a secure environment,” he explains.
The affiliation goes back to 1983 when CCC owned this data unit. In the mid-1990s CCC divested it to a company that Acxiom bought. The relationship continued strictly on an outsourced basis since that sale in 1996.
Familiarity Breeds Flexibility in Meeting Needs
Over the years, CCC has experienced spectacular growth in both volume and the complexity of its technical environment. Requirements can and do change with short notice. The advantage of this long affiliation becomes apparent as CCC’s services adjust to the needs of its outsourced market.
All orders move through the Acxiom-supported infrastructure and are supplied online. CCC develops and maintains the buyer’s application software while Acxiom manages the processing platform and communications connectivity.
Beattie explains that CCC had a Web-hosting relationship for other services with Acxiom for several years and also had a prior relationship with another provider in an effort to diversify its services and service providers. The executive says he was pleased with the relationship with the other provider. The decision to move Autoverse to Acxiom was simply a situation of a better culture match with a 20-year legacy partner. “The key driver to moving Autoverse was Acxiom gives us a more intimate relationship. We have much more flexibility in collaborative efforts and new venture rollouts,” he explains.
Gray adds the ideal outsourcing contract is long-term, unambiguous, and binding on both parties. “Yet it must also be fluid, permitting ongoing adaptation over time,” she notes.
Familiarity Breeds Collaboration
Mature outsourcing partnerships eventually boil down to one of intimacy and collaborative accountability. The best example in this case is the fact that CCC’s outsourced products, which continuously undergo review and adjustment, are an extension of the final insurance customer. Over time, the companies that access CCC data services come to see the data as their own. Acxiom’s ability to assist in developing these products, then deliver this data to CCC’s customers in a manner acceptable to them is paramount to the continuity of the relationship.
“Our primary job is to maintain CCC’s infrastructure and respond to what they need. When dynamic changes occur, we are able to supply the resources required to support those changes,” adds Steve Theus, Acxiom’s Relationship Manager for CCCIS. He associates this relationship to a finely tuned racecar. “CCC is the driver and charts the course. We at Acxiom provide and maintain the engine and are the suspension that supports CCC’s hard turns and fast acceleration on the straightaways. Both have to win the race.”
Twenty-one years is plenty of time to get a feel for any racecar.
Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:
- As effective outsourcing relationships mature, they facilitate the growth of intimacy and collaborative accountability.
- Over time, some outsourcing buyers come to view outsourced services provided to them as their own and often represent those services as originating internally. This is a good barometer of the success of an outsourcing relationship.
- Over time, collaborative outsourcing relationships are more effective in supporting business transformation in product or service development when dynamic changes occur. The outsourcing provider is more willing to supply the resources required to support those changes when both parties win.