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Collision Industry Conference: Who Owns the Estimating Data?

CCC’s Secure Share launch has provided a lot of fodder for discussion in the collision repair industry, as it touches on hot-button issues such as data privacy, cybersecurity and information sharing.

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Josh Cable has 17 years of experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, B2B publications and marketing organizations. His areas of expertise include U.S. manufacturing, lean/Six Sigma and workplace safety and health.

From left to right, Jack Rozint of Mitchell International, Pete Tagliapietra of NuGen IT and Scott Biggs of Assured Performance were among the panelists discussing CCC’s Secure Share system at the Oct. 31 CIC in Las Vegas.

CCC’s Secure Share launch has provided a lot of fodder for discussion in the collision repair industry, as it touches on hot-button issues such as data privacy, cybersecurity and information sharing.

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One of the most fascinating issues – especially with the emergence of vehicle telematics – is whether or not collision repairers are the rightful owners of their estimating data.

Dan Risley, president of the Automotive Service Association and co-chair of the Collision Industry Conference’s (CIC) Open Systems Data Access and Sharing Task Force, posed this question to panelists during the Oct. 31 CIC in Las Vegas.

“The author owns the data,” answered Pete Tagliapietra, employee owner of the collision repair software provider NuGen IT. “You can check with your attorneys, you can read about it on Google – if you create the estimate, you are the owner of that estimate, plain and simple.”

Scott Biggs, CEO of the Assured Performance certification network, agreed.

“Can you imagine if the guys that sold Picasso the paint, the paintbrushes and the canvas tried to claim ownership of one of those paintings that he finished?” Biggs asked. “In our minds, the shop wrote the estimate. It’s their value added; they created it. They certainly own the Picasso painting that they created.”

Jack Rozint, vice president of sales and service for Mitchell International’s Auto Physical Damage business unit, offered a more nuanced perspective, asserting that “it’s very clear that there is no clear ownership of the data.”

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“I haven’t seen an estimate written in a long time that didn’t include OEM parts information,” Rozint explained. “That information is licensed by the OEM, including their part-numbering system, their description of the part and sometimes their part diagrams.”

In that context, it seems like the OEM owns the data, he said. However, estimates from a DRP shop likely will include insurance-claim information – “it seems to me that’s clearly in the ownership of the carrier” – in addition to the “unique intellectual property” that the shop’s technicians contribute. And don’t forget about the vehicle owner, whose vehicle is providing data via its OBD II port.

“There are a lot of different reasons that a lot of different parties can claim ownership [to the data],” Rozint added.

Assured Performance CEO Scott Biggs: “Can you imagine if the guys that sold Picasso the paint, the paintbrushes and the canvas tried to claim ownership of one of those paintings that he finished?”

For Rozint, though, data ownership isn’t the most important issue in the Secure Share conversation. The purpose of forming the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association was to facilitate data sharing in the collision repair industry, “and we need to be careful that we protect that ability for those transactions to continue to flow,” he asserted.

“We can argue for another 20 years about who owns the data,” Rozint said. “I think it’s the fact that the data needs to move freely among industry participants for the ultimate benefit of the vehicle owner that we should focus on.”

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On the morning of the CIC in Las Vegas, Mitchell unveiled a new claims and repair management system called “Program Freedom.” Although Mitchell’s Oct. 31 press release doesn’t mention CCC by name, the San Diego-based information provider describes Program Freedom as “an open-systems alternative to systems that restrict data exchange and extract toll fees.”

“Ours is an open platform designed to allow the users of our applications to continue to have the ability to freely share their data with their choice of business partners in the way that they choose, without tolls or restrictions,” Rozint added.

In an interview with BodyShop Business, Mark Fincher, vice president of market solutions for CCC, said the whole point of Secure Share’s terms of service is to ensure that collision repairers control the data that they share.

“The permitted uses that we’ve put in place around the data [are there] so shops know that when they send the data to an app provider, it doesn’t go beyond that app provider, it can’t be sold to another company,” Fincher said. “It can’t be provided to another company beyond the intended use that the shop has granted us permission for.”

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