In an earlier post, I briefly introduced the five trends set out in the Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance 2017. This time, I’d like to go into a little more detail about the first trend, which is “AI is the new UI: Experience Above All”. What we mean by this is that AI is taking on an increasingly sophisticated role in technology interfaces.

From autonomous driving vehicles that use computer vision to live translations made possible by artificial neural networks, AI is maturing. As it does, it is making every user interface in the business simpler and smarter—enabling insurance carriers to vastly improve the experience and outcome for every customer, agent and employee interaction.

We envisage a world where complex graphical interfaces one day disappear and the technology becomes invisible. Customers will no longer need to understand complicated technology to use it: they can simply talk to, gesture at, or touch the AI that controls it. This sort of seamless interface will enable us all to be more productive and efficient; it will also spur more use of technology.

For most insurers, the trend started with intelligent automation in the back-office. From using these technologies to automate rules-based business processes, the next step sees carriers create AI interfaces that make complicated technologies and processes more approachable to customers, agents and employees. Employees may soon direct IT support questions to a chatbot or business analytics queries to a virtual assistant like Rhizabot, for example.

75 percent of insurance executives believe AI will transform or bring significant change to the industry over the next three yearsWe’re also already seeing a growing list of insurers leverage AI to transform their customer- and distributor-facing channels, including the use of virtual assistants to support customers in their purchasing decisions or agents as they sell. In some cases, they are choosing to partner with emerging players like Motif or Betterment; in others, they are developing their own capabilities.

From Lemonade to GEICO, more and more insurance organizations are using virtual assistants and other forms of AI at the frontline for customer and agent support, and even for sales and basic advice. Within the next three years, insurance customers may spend as much time engaged with AI as talking to company employees or agents.

Uses of AI in the user experience

Advice will remain a pillar of the client relationship for many insurers, especially for life products, but it will be offered as a combination of algorithm-based automation and person-to-person interaction. Customers will base their opinion and interest in a company on the AI, just as they judge by their experiences with human employees.

As AI takes on the primary role of interacting with both customers and employees, insurance carriers must consider it a core competency that demands C-level investment and strategy. Much more than just another technology tool to help increase efficiency or generate value, AI is no longer about how your company does things—it’s who you are.

You can read the Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance 2017 Full Report, Executive Summary and infographic for the highlights of our research.