Corey Calajoe (pictured) joined ACORD more than 12 years ago – as a newly minted graduate of Penn State University with a background in information technology (IT).
“I had an opportunity to work in an IT support role and I was eager to learn … everything I could,” Calajoe said. “The reason why I’ve continued to stay at ACORD is because I’ve had a lot of learning opportunities.”
ACORD is a non-profit industry-owned organization launched in 1970 that is the global standards-setting body for insurance and related financial services industries. The group has more than 36,000 members globally, from agencies to multinational carriers, and facilitates fast, accurate data exchange and efficient workflows through development of electronic standards, standardized forms, and tools to support their use.
Calajoe moved up the ranks through ACORD, becoming vice president of Technology Shared Services at ACORD Solutions Group in January 2022.
ACORD Solutions Group debuted in 2016 as a wholly-owned subsidiary focused on “filling gaps for which there are no adequate solutions.” What that means is ACORD Solutions Group develops digital products that help bridge the gap between legacy capabilities and strategic digitization products, and they’re built to be easily deployed by clients, which include members and non-members.
Calajoe’s job is to work closely with senior management to propose improvement to business infrastructure and report progress on various projects. There is also the support factor.
“We provide support for our clients, both internally and externally,” Calajoe said. “I manage the oversight of our infrastructure, our [technology] releases and the support for our clients.”
Calajoe sees ACORD Solutions Group as playing an important role for the industry.
“Our number one priority is to solve problems for the industry and members, and we use cutting-edge technology to do it right,” Calajoe said.
ACORD Solutions Group’s technology focuses, in part, on areas such as the transforming and exchanging of data cross digital formats. This, Calajoe said, allows for more end-to-end automation and “straight-through processing” for clients. There’s a bigger-picture goal, too: to help clients and members better use technology to boost efficiency.
“We’ve provided the standards for so long. Now we’re really trying to help implement those standards with our [SaaS and other] solutions,” Calajoe said.
New products and close conversations
The ACORD Solutions Group has made plenty of strides since its launch, Calajoe said. He participated in and helped shape the group before taking on his VP role with the unit this year.
“The biggest accomplishment over the last four or five years is really being part of the oversight of building out these products,” Calajoe explained. “We’ve gone from having no solutions to now having enterprise-level solutions that we offer to the industry, and we have large clients who are using these solutions and they are happy with our services.”
With that said, the industry isn’t always quick to embrace technological change. Calajoe acknowledged the dynamic. As he’s moved from working in ACORD’s back-end operations to interacting more with customers and participating organizations, talking with clients and really listening to them has become an important element of Calajoe’s work. In doing so, best practices have become clear.
“What ACORD has always done well and what we’re doing is you need to have these discussions with potential clients and customers and members and just see what their inefficiencies are, or what they’re having troubles with day-to-day,” Calajoe said. “If you have a discussion with them and learn what the problems are and where they can be improved, that’s where you have to start.”
From Calajoe’s perspective, customers aren’t exclusively receptive to technology you can bring them that’s off the shelf. Each case has its own individual need.
“You can’t be just like ‘here’s this shiny new product and go use it,’” Calajoe said. “You have to work together [and] can’t really just provide an out-of-the-box solution as much as you may want to It’s not going to be out of the box for everybody.”
Put a different way, Calajoe has learned as a technology expert that its more important to collaborate with clients on what they really need.
“It may not be convincing them,” Calajoe said. “It may be coming to them with opportunities that are solutions we have to offer them and they may say, ‘well, that’s nice but we have a slightly different issue or problem.’’
That initial conversation should lead to collaboration toward a viable solution, he said.
Technology is everything
Helping industry clients figure out how to excel with technology is paramount these days, Calajoe said.
“It’s the future of insurance,” Calajoe said. “The objective of technology, in my mind, is to solve problems and make tasks easier, whether that’s through cost savings or time savings, or solving efficiencies.”