Despite their rigid reputation, data standards are not entirely immutable. Much like the business processes and transactions they govern, standards, and the way they are utilized, evolve.

Historically, standards were developed to help the industry bring order to myriad proprietary formats, and to govern interactions between a carrier and an entity outside its walls, such as a producer or regulator. Now, a new breed of standards is emerging that focuses on data transactions made inside a carrier's walls, and on the overall architecture of systems. Ample proof of this evolution can be found in Pearl River, N.Y., where the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD) has been crafting standards for three decades. Long-standing ACORD exchange formats AL3 and ACORD XML concentrated on helping insurers and producers relate to business-to-business.

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