The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) reserved the final time slot of its Oct. 31 meeting for the Open Systems Data Access and Sharing Task Force – an ad hoc committee formed to study CCC’s new Secure Share data-sharing network.
Conference organizers set aside two hours for the presentation, including time for an open mic session. Although perhaps there weren’t as many fireworks as expected, panelists and audience members expressed concern that CCC is positioning itself as a gatekeeper of repair data by requiring app providers to register with CCC and agree to its terms of service before being included in the Secure Share Marketplace. Some indicated that their organizations wouldn’t be participating when the platform goes live.
“I have to say on behalf of Assured Performance … we’re very concerned with the massive potential impact this is going to have on our network shops,” said Scott Biggs, CEO of Assured Performance, which administers the collision repair certification programs for Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan.
Assured Performance requires its more than 2,000 certified body shops to upload their estimating data to a cloud-based service called dataSAFE. However, because of the data-sharing restrictions that CCC has established for its new platform, Biggs said “it would be very difficult” for shops to use Secure Share and comply with their Assured Performance certification requirements.
In a phone interview with BodyShop Business, Mark Fincher, vice president of market solutions for CCC, said he wasn’t sure “why that would be a challenge.”
“Early on, we designed a message specifically for OEM certification programs,” Fincher said. “It’s been available for some time in Secure Share for any certified program management company to use.”
Pete Tagliapietra, employee owner of the software provider NuGen IT, urged collision repairers to consider all their options before deciding to use Secure Share. Tagliapietra has presented his software as a workaround to Secure Share, and he emphasized that his firm’s collision repair workflow applications “are architected so that the author of the estimate will always own the data.”
“I believe that there will be other alternatives besides the one that my company offers that [will] allow you to handle and manage the data that you want to – even though it might still upload to Secure Share – and not involve all of the other trading partners that you do business with,” Tagliapietra said. “You should have the flexibility to choose best-in-class suppliers that you want to do business with and that you feel comfortable with, without being forced or mandated into using service suppliers that a third party selects for you.”
The task force displayed a flow chart (pictured above) characterizing CCC as the “gatekeeper” of information exchanged between repair shops and app providers such as car-rental companies, estimate scrubbers, OEMs and parts-procurement systems. Fincher called that notion “one of the big misconceptions being perpetuated out there.”
“Secure Share actually puts the repairer – not CCC, not the app providers – in control of the data they share,” Fincher told BodyShop Business. “ … Just from what we’ve heard at those meetings, it would seem that some app providers believe that they’re entitled to that data and expect no restrictions so that they can do whatever they want with the data. But repairers have a responsibility to protect that data on behalf of their customers, and Secure Share enables them to do just that. It provides a whole new level of transparency compared to what they have today with EMS [Estimate Management Standard] and data pumps.”
How We Got Here
In September 2016, CCC announced the launch of Secure Share, touting the cloud-based messaging software – which uses the Business Message Suite (BMS) data protocol – as a more secure platform for collision repairers to share estimating information with their business partners. CCC also announced plans to stop supporting EMS files, which are based on the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association’s (CIECA) antiquated EMS standard.
Secure Share went live on April 4, 2017. CCC plans to shut off EMS exports entirely on April 4, 2018.
“Today, repair facilities can export EMS from CCC ONE, and on April 4, we’ll be disabling that functionality,” Fincher explained. “So we’ll … only transmit data electronically through the Secure Share platform.”
CIECA, which develops IT standards for the collision repair industry, launched the EMS standard in 1994 so shops wouldn’t have to re-key estimating data into their shop management software. Since then, e-commerce has exploded, and CIECA saw the need to create a more secure file format for body shops to exchange information with parts providers, rental-car companies, insurers and other business partners via the internet and mobile apps. CIECA published the first BMS standard in 2004, with the intent of creating a secure file format that enables repairers to pick and choose the data they share with their business partners, as opposed to the “all-or-nothing” EMS format.
While some CIC attendees praised CCC for shifting to the BMS data format, the task force presented a litany of concerns that stakeholders have expressed regarding CCC’s approach to implementing Secure Share.
Most of the concerns revolve around the rules for the new CCC Marketplace, an app directory that enables repairers to activate or deactivate data sharing with their business partners. To be included in the app directory, vendors must register with CCC and agree to CCC’s terms of service (which CCC has said it created to ensure that repairers retain control of their estimating data). To receive data from a body shop, vendors must pay a 50-cent transaction fee per repair order.
That transaction fee sticks in the craw of Rick Palmer, CEO of ComputerLogic and one of the co-chairs of the task force. For Macon, Ga.-based ComputerLogic, which provides the PMCLogic paint-and-materials calculator and other collision repair apps, the 50-cent transaction fee “represents 50 percent of our total revenue,” according to Palmer.
“I think this is not really CCC Secure Share – it’s CCC Ransomware,” Palmer asserted. “Because right now the bottom line is if I don’t sign their agreements and do this contract with them, I’m going to be cut off from doing business with my customers under the traditional way I’ve been doing business.”
While Fincher acknowledged that CCC is “monetizing the value that Secure Share delivers,” he asserted that Secure Share “isn’t a revenue play for us.” He reiterated that the transaction fee is needed to recoup CCC’s investment in building “a comprehensive, robust platform that can process every single estimate that’s written on our platform and send that to app providers in just a few seconds.”
“There are a lot of other investments we could’ve made that would’ve generated a lot more revenue with a lot less fanfare,” Fincher added.
‘Incredible Lead-Generation Tool’
CCC believes that app providers stand to benefit the most from Secure Share, as the Secure Marketplace enables vendors to connect to 20,000 collision repair shops “without ever having to install anything on the desktop.” The initial feedback from some app providers – more than 60 have registered with CCC Secure Share so far – is that the app directory has been “an incredible lead-generation tool,” according to Fincher.
He also tried to dispel the notion that transmitting EMS files is free, asserting that “there is a significant cost to developing, managing and supporting data pumps.”
“We believe that CCC Secure Share really helps to reduce that cost [of transmitting EMS files] by allowing app providers to create one single connection to 20,000 shops versus having to build, install, support and maintain hundreds or even thousands of data pumps,” Fincher told BodyShop Business. “We think it can significantly streamline and reduce the expense associated with EMS today and extracting that data off a local shop computer and getting that up to their application in the cloud.”
Not everyone is buying the message. Alex Adegan, founder and CEO of uParts, an electronic parts-procurement provider, said his company likely won’t participate in the Secure Share Marketplace, as he believes “it’s almost impossible for third-party providers to participate in the CCC Secure Share program” in its current form.
“Imagine if Apple went to all the app providers … and said, ‘You have to pay me every time you access an app on your iPhone or iOS software,” Adegan said.
Society of Collision Repair Specialists Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg asked two other CIC attendees if they’ll be participating in Secure Share.
Dan Friedman, assistant vice president of collision industry/strategic sales for Enterprise Holdings – parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car – answered “no.” Earlier in the meeting, he reiterated Enterprise’s public position and said Enterprise will “keep collaborating and partnering with businesses that believe in open technology platforms and provide services that help advance the collision repair and claims industry.”
Responding to Schulenburg’s question, Biggs said it would be difficult for Assured Performance shops to use Secure Share “without a workaround and without some off-the-wall negotiation.”
“What I heard was two ‘no’s’ essentially,” Schulenburg said. “The point is there are so many people who get caught up in the minutiae of the system or the cost, and none of that is really the issue here. You have so many things that are critical to running a collision repair business and processing a claim and dealing with a consumer that will get hung up in this process, from monitoring your rental to participating in your certification program.”
When asked about Enterprise, Fincher said CCC doesn’t comment “on business decisions of other companies,” but added that CCC wants “everyone to find value in Secure Share and to participate in the program.” For those that aren’t participating, “they should be contemplating alternative approaches to help continue to provide a streamlined method to use their applications.”
“We’ve designed Secure Share to really simplify this process of connecting a shop and an application provider that they may use,” Fincher told BodyShop Business. “ … We wanted to give the industry plenty of time to prepare for it, and our intention has never been to disrupt the workflow of our customers. That’s the last thing we want.”