Episode 20: Full Transcript

[00:00:00.41] THAD BAUER: I think that artificial intelligence and machine learning is going to be such a big part of the insurance industry going forward. It's starting now already, but I just think that's going to explode.
[00:00:11.26] SPEAKER 1: This is the Insurance Technology Podcast where we bring interesting people from across the insurance ecosystem to discuss and debate technology's impact on the industry. Join us each episode for insights and best practices from industry stewards and tomorrow's innovators. Now, here's your host Reid Holzworth.
[00:00:30.87] REID HOLZWORTH: All right, welcome back Thad Bauer. In this episode, we acknowledge the elephant in the room-- standards. Uh-oh. Yeah, we're going to go there.
[00:00:42.27] And also, we get to know a little bit more about Thad outside of the insurance world. Stay tuned. It's going to be great.
[00:00:50.87] OK, so next question. This industry is built on forms and standards, do you see them continuing to be the foundation of the industry in the future?
[00:01:00.89] THAD BAUER: Yeah, I could get a lot of enemies here on how I answer this one.
[00:01:05.39] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, yeah, you can. You're retiring, Thad, so it's OK.
[00:01:08.22] THAD BAUER: Right. It doesn't matter. I will go in and say this, that I am not sure that standards are as necessary as they've been. I think when you start talking about APIs, and microservices, and everything like that, I am not as convinced that we need an industry standard. Because basically what happens is you get a carrier system that you're going to dilute to fit to a standard that then is brought in and diluted to fit to an agency management system.
[00:01:44.69] So I can say it again. Probably making some enemies here, but I could say again I'm not as convinced now as I was early on in my career that standards are the way to go. And maybe it's because technology has evolved.
[00:01:56.39] Again, when I'm talking about APIs, and the microservices, and how easy it is to define different payloads, and really if you think about it instead of one big standard, can you focus in on these data points and be able to pull that through? So yeah, hard one to answer. And I'm not going to say I'm right, but I don't know. I think that if I were sticking around with IVANS, we have pushed through-- I'm not going to say our own standard, because again it's not a standard. It's just we've got a working data model that serves our purpose really well that we can modify very easily to each carrier.
[00:02:37.79] And is that a better solution than having just one standard that everyone has to reinterpret, reuse versus getting into very specific data objects? So I don't know. That's a hard one. And again, I don't know that I'm right.
[00:02:52.64] From an IVANS perspective with what we do, you really can't go multiple ways. Even look at us internally. We've got, again I don't want to call them standards anymore because they're not, but we've got different data, data models, data objects depending on what we're using, because that's what makes the most sense. The technology has gotten to the point where it's easy to do translations. What's hard is when you start diluting the value of the data.
[00:03:14.55] And so if we can maintain the integrity of the data, you start talking about data lakes and storing data objects the way they are, instead of having to make them fit into your data warehouse where it's a field by field. But now you can store payload at a time, so that you can come back later and get at that data in the format that it was. You've now solved the problem of that data integrity loss kind of thing.
[00:03:39.85] REID HOLZWORTH: I would totally agree with you, Thad. I don't think it's that necessary anymore, honestly. And I don't care if I get enemies from it.
[00:03:48.59] So I get it. There is value in things where you need standards, like, we'll talk forms for a minute. I need a standardized form to show that I have insurance, a certificate of insurance, ID card, things like that. But why?
[00:04:05.68] And when you talk connectivity and all of that stuff, like you said, we've built so much of that. I mean, I didn't build anything, you did and your teams have. I mean, so much of that.
[00:04:15.95] And if it comes out blue, why do you want to change it to green to then change it to purple to then change it to red? Why? It's unnecessary. And so I don't think it provides the value.
[00:04:32.29] Now, I get it in the beginning way back in the early '80s and all of that, that made sense. And you know what's crazy though, too? Even the systems that are out there, the ones that exist today, I'm not going to name names, but agency systems, carrier systems, so form based.
[00:04:52.30] And it's just in my opinion, I've always said this. This is how we built it at TC. I'm not building the system around a form. I'm capturing the data however we want to capture it and then we'll translate that data to fit into a form if we need to.
[00:05:11.62] And that's like in the system itself, connectivity wise, why? I can go tap an API and go get what I need to get, do what I need to do with it. What are we talking about?
[00:05:24.26] THAD BAUER: Yeah, I think that's the key you hit on right there. So that tapping into the API is you basically go through and define all these different APIs where you feed the data. And then you pass in, hey, this here I need a printed form, here I need a data object to be passed on, here I need the object that management system A needs, and here's the object that management system B needs. And I think that those are, if we all come together, those are fairly easy things. OK, I'm not going to say fairly easy, but easy things that we could come up with. It's just it's a coordination.
[00:05:58.51] Part of the thing you talked about the challenges in the industry. The other thing is just finding the time to get to what needs to be done in the industry. And we see this, honestly, internally as well as externally.
[00:06:09.25] We all know this is what we need to get and this is what we need to do, but the problem is everyone has a day job. And so if I've got my priorities and I'm booked 40 hours a week to do this. Even if there is some great idea over on the other side, how much do you pull yourself or worse your team?
[00:06:25.93] You never wanted to have your team working stupid hours to get something done because that's just not sustainable. And so how do you make those hard decisions or how do you figure out the right resourcing to get to where you need to go? I think that's probably-- I'll go back and change my answer-- that might be one of the bigger challenges in the industry.
[00:06:46.45] REID HOLZWORTH: Well, it's good. You know what it's like? It's like tech debt--
[00:06:49.66] THAD BAUER: Yeah.
[00:06:49.84] REID HOLZWORTH: --right? Nobody ever wants to work on tech debt, especially in a startup. I mean, sometimes you have to because you're, like, shit, this thing is going to dim the lights. We got problems here. But it is, it's like tech debt at a fully scaled, fully ramped company.
[00:07:07.78] But it's not, we'll coin the term ensure tech debt. And so it is. If you're right about that and it's like we have a day job. Going back to the standard thing, all the people that spent so much of their own time developing those standards, all those groups, everything, like, so much, so, so, so, so, so much. And they didn't go to waste by any means. Don't get me wrong here.
[00:07:40.49] We needed that as an industry. But come on, let's be real. That shit doesn't happen anymore. And that's like that ensure tech debt stuff. Who's working on this?
[00:07:52.39] Now, you know, who's working on it? People like us that are building on APIs for connectivity. And like we're and the carriers that are becoming more modern. They're building out more modern stack to allow others to tap in people that are opening up, if you will. am I wrong? I don't know.
[00:08:11.89] THAD BAUER: No, no, I agree with you. And that's the-- where do we go as an industry? Because to your point, it was absolutely necessary from the technology that we had and the time frame that we were working around and where that was versus where we are now. It's just a totally different space.
[00:08:32.08] I'm going to flashback when I first started at Great American. There was no such thing as public email. So we had an email system, but it was only for the company. I couldn't send emails outside.
[00:08:44.04] And in my five years from '90 to '95 is when you started getting the external email. So you think about that, that's in my career. That's a big jump from how you communicated, because everything was phone based before you got to that.
[00:08:58.50] Then the industry has been email based, but now you're getting into chats. And I think about all the Slack channels that we have opened up and how you communicate there. So things will evolve, technology has evolved, and that's what I think that the standard conversation, I think people are afraid to have that conversation. But honestly, we've evolved that I just don't know that standards are as necessary as they used to be.
[00:09:24.25] REID HOLZWORTH: I totally agree. I don't think they're as valuable as people think they are either, not anymore.
[00:09:30.58] THAD BAUER: And selfishly, I would love IVANS to be the center of controlling this. Again, not to define a standard, but to how do you communicate. But you create everything as open and it's not just IVANS.
[00:09:43.57] I could see IVANS in the future where you would take this as, OK, we're going to be an organization to help, but you would leave it open to anyone to fit in there. And again, those open APIs on how you call and how you move and maybe IVANS is the secure point of the data movement. But then you could really call any API that turns into data object to data object. And all of a sudden, it's not a standard anymore. It's just a translation.
[00:10:14.41] You go, this is what you need. We talked about it a few minutes ago. It's like you need a form, here's your form. You need an ID card, here's your ID card. You need a move to the management system, here's the payload to move it.
[00:10:26.63] So again, I think that whether that's the next step, I think there's going to be some kind of an evolution. So whether it's this or whether it's something new, we've got a lot of smart people that can go figure this out. And I'll watch from the sidelines.
[00:10:43.13] REID HOLZWORTH: Well, yeah. It's interesting what you said, because IVANS would be the one to do it because we already have the connections. We do. We're already, like you said earlier, 32,000 accounts and call it 450 or so carriers, MGAs connecting.
[00:11:01.39] I mean, it's there, the connectivity is there. It's just adding that additional layer, if you will. It's interesting. It's interesting thought, like you said, that the future, it's got a lot of opportunity.
[00:11:16.20] THAD BAUER: It does.
[00:11:17.21] REID HOLZWORTH: A lot of insurance stacked deck to fix.
[00:11:20.77] THAD BAUER: That's what other parts are walking away. It's just there's so much around data, there's so much around. I think that artificial intelligence and machine learning is going to be such a big part of the insurance industry going forward. It's starting now already, but I just think that's going to explode.
[00:11:34.73] And so it's sad that I'm not going to be around to see that. Again, I can watch from the sidelines, but won't be involved in that. But that, honestly, for me is it's an exciting development in technology that I think is really going to rock the world.
[00:11:49.87] And then I do think IVANS is very well positioned. You think about it, we're over a million transactions each business day that are running through our network. That's just a lot of data to have a lot of fun with when you think about machine learning. And I had hoped for the day where we're going with IDP with our distribution platform of having a simple question or two pulling up supplemental data and really no entry needed ever.
[00:12:17.71] I think that we'll get there with all the data that's available. It's just, again, you have to move slow. I complain about the pace we move, but you have to move slow. Because you have to make sure the data is secure and used in the way that everyone intends it to be used. So I think those are the challenges, but I think that that's going to hop along, too.
[00:12:35.54] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that stuff's coming, by the way. We just did a project. We finished it up and we're signing contracts with third party data providers. And it's basically like a data store.
[00:12:47.09] So essentially, they're hooking all these data for third party data providers. You as a customer of ours for, say, IDPE can go and sign up, because people don't realize getting data and having data add to it, augment whatever you're doing with it. For like pre-fill-ish type stuff is what we're talking about, you usually need a variety of sources for it.
[00:13:11.73] One is going to give you exactly what you want. But what we're doing is we built a platform where all these third parties are basically plugged in and then you just go check the boxes. You go and do a little deal with them, whatever you're doing, you do the negotiation. And then poof it's connected up to IDPE and all of our products in that way.
[00:13:31.98] So it enables people to build really, really cool shit once again. And it takes away some of that manual entry. And really, if you start to take away a lot of the manual entry, it makes the information that gets presented to, say, the carrier or even the agency back, it makes it much more true. I guess, is a way to put it.
[00:13:57.24] It may be more dependable in that way. You know what you have is something a little better. It's like somebody calls me or I call for an auto insurance quote and they go, you ever had any accidents? No.
[00:14:11.09] You ever had any speeding tickets violations? Hell, no, no, no. Like, that's totally not true. But I mean, they end up owning it later anyways, but they just waste a lot of time.
[00:14:25.91] But anyways, that kind of stuff, I mean, personal lines, auto is a different animal altogether, but we're talking about mainly commercial lines and some of this other stuff. But you know, it's a good thing.
[00:14:36.29] THAD BAUER: It's a balance of Big Brother versus convenience and how far is too far. And I think that's what slows us down. So I think the industry could be a lot more efficient.
[00:14:46.19] And I agree with you. I don't want to spend my time telling somebody about, oh, did I have a speeding ticket? When was that?
[00:14:53.06] Blah, blah, blah. The information is there, just go get it. Don't waste my time.
[00:14:59.60] REID HOLZWORTH: All right, let's get through it. How does Thad Bauer plan to spend your retirement?
[00:15:11.89] THAD BAUER: You know, I've been very fortunate in my career that I love helping. And about to just under two years ago, I got involved with an organization Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship, CTRH. And I hope to be able-- I've been volunteering with them for just under two years and I hope to do even more there.
[00:15:35.36] So just to go a little deeper for those-- to bore you a little bit, it's for challenged people basically to learn horsemanship and riding. It's good for those that are both physically and mentally challenged in certain areas, that the horses really give a good therapeutic assistance to those individuals. So part of what I do is to help lead the horses during sessions where we have riders that are out there, but I also in there taking care of the horses. So I'm literally shoveling you know what.
[00:16:12.04] So it's been a nice thing for me to be able to do that. I plan on doing a lot more. They have miniature horses there. That we have a miniature horse program and I'm hoping to get involved in that more. So that's going to be my passion of what I do.
[00:16:27.49] For my side two, my parents are at a good age to where I can probably try and help them out and spend more time with them. So I'm looking forward doing that. Because when you have the day job, it gets harder to balance all of that. So again, very fortunate that I can take this time to do that.
[00:16:43.13] And then for some of you that know me, I have a love of Jeeps and have a couple of friends here at IVANS that we have a lot of fun going off-roading and doing silly things with vehicles. I think that was the love that I learned early on with these big machines and what they can do. And so I'll spend some time being stupid and playing in my Jeep as well.
[00:17:08.53] REID HOLZWORTH: Silly things with vehicles, I like that one. You've done great things for the industry, Thad, and you're a legend. And you're especially in a legend here at IVANS. And so as you know, you're always welcome all of our stuff. And I think you say you'll be on the sidelines, but I think you'll still come in here and there.
[00:17:29.59] And so door is always open. And you've done a lot for this industry throughout your journey and it's awesome, man. It's been really great to know you for many years, but also to work with you firsthand. And you've done a lot for a lot of us and it's awesome.
[00:17:48.22] You're going to continue to help people in your next journey in that way. And when your job, the job you wanted when you grow up first was you wanted to be a farmer and now you're retiring to go and help disabled individuals in a farm-like environment. I mean, it's kind of like full circle.
[00:18:10.90] - Yeah, I had never really thought about that, but it's kind of a fun thing. So I'm going to embrace it.
[00:18:18.81] REID HOLZWORTH: Awesome. It's awesome. All right, Thad.
[00:18:20.47] THAD BAUER: Thank you.
[00:18:20.61] REID HOLZWORTH: Well, thank you and see you around. Well, that was great. You know it's funny. I love how it came full circle from Thad's childhood dream of working on a farm to now volunteering on a farm in retirement. That's so cool.
[00:18:41.85] Now, I know I speak on behalf of all of us saying that Thad will be missed. I wish him well as he enters the next phase of life. What a great guy. What an awesome dude.
[00:18:53.82] He's done a lot for our industry in a lot of ways. And frankly, he's helped me out personally as well. To many hours of doing donuts with the Jeep in the winter, and doing donuts in the Corvette in the summer, cheers, Thad. You'll be missed.


[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER: The Insurance Technology Podcast is a production of IVANS. Visit insuretechpod.com to contact us, suggest a topic or guest for an upcoming show, and subscribe to be notified when our latest podcast is available. You can find all our episodes in your favorite podcast app. It's where you can also leave us a rating and a review that helps other people find the show. Thanks for listening.