It’s always tempting to market your technology as “X in a box.” This marketing technique creates a false sense of security in clients that all the technology has already been built, all the problems have already been discovered and fixed, and all I need to do is deploy the “X in a box” technology to make all my problems disappear. This tried and true approach to IT marketing has now found its way into the Exchange world. IdeaCrew rejects the premise of an “Exchange in a box” because it is misleading.
To be sure, there is core functionality that is common to all Exchanges. IdeaCrew’s Benefits Marketplace platform contains all of this functionality and we could easily brand it as our “Exchange in a box” solution. But we know better.
Each State has its own unique marketplace characteristics. Each State that invests in creating its own State-Based Exchange is going to want a platform that is nimble enough to address its unique characteristics. Otherwise, the business case for a State-Based Exchange is weaker.
Our experience rolling out our SHOP platform for the Massachusetts Health Connector is instructive. The premise of the state partnership between the DC and Massachusetts Exchanges was that DC had invested more in its SHOP technology than any other State had, and Massachusetts wanted to give to its small businesses exactly what DC had, with only the legally required customizations. So we were able to deliver that in just 5 months.
Over time, though, Massachusetts came to realize that its SHOP marketplace was different than DC’s. It saw opportunities to leverage SHOP to address the unique needs of its business and broker communities. IdeaCrew worked with Massachusetts to create a roadmap for customizations. We were able to go as fast or as slow as Massachusetts wanted. The flexible architecture of our Benefits Marketplace platform allowed us to add new features, change business rules, and customize work flows quickly and at low expense.
The Massachusetts example should be instructive for all states. While many vendors, led by IdeaCrew, can deliver core functionality that might be labeled as an “Exchange in a box,” States need to probe what that really means. The real test is whether that technology can evolve over time to meet additional, State-specific requirements. Too often, the real answer is that it cannot, at least not within reasonable timeframes or budgetary constraints. IdeaCrew stands out in this regard. Our microservices architecture allows us to deploy core functionality quickly and affordably, but also to support an evolution of the technology as the characteristics of the State’s marketplace change. Don’t get fooled by the empty promise of an “Exchange in a box.” Look for a vendor that can meet core functionality on day 1 through a platform that will be flexible to meet emerging needs, because there is no doubt that those need will in fact emerge.