For insurance carriers moving along their transformation journeys, change is not just about improvement but about adopting a new way of looking at the organization.

One of the best things about the intelligent automation journey for insurers is that there isn’t a single blueprint that fits every insurer. One of the worst things is there isn’t one blueprint that fits every insurer.

On the plus side, each organization can begin anywhere.  A technologically advanced company can identify a business problem and apply increasing sophisticated technology in strategic ways to help solve it. A new insurer or one that had been grappling with issues in its business process management platform can choose to jump ahead, embracing Robotics Process Automation (RPA) or even technologies that involve artificial intelligence (AI), and integrate them into their business operations. Carriers can transform one or two less efficient internal operations by integrating sophisticated technologies into the process before tackling others.  Organizational priorities differ, and so will solutions.  

On the other hand, there is nothing turnkey about intelligent process transformation. Choosing and then embedding automating tools into specific business processes will redefine operations, so it takes thought, planning and integration to pull it off.

But it’s worth it. Accenture research projects the impact of AI technologies on business will boost labor productivity by as much as 40% by changing how work is done and reinforcing the role of people to drive business growth.

Ultimately, the journey will lead to doing things differently and doing different things than had been done in the past. It will require a new way of looking at the organization. Disruption is and will be just as a much a part of the insurance industry as it is with retail, manufacturing and others, but armed with IA, each organization can assume the control it needs to prosper amid business disruption. 

Based on Accenture’s research and the pilot projects it has been involved with, we’ve determined three important considerations to successfully navigate the IA journey:

  • Think beyond costs as you build change.  Regard intelligent automation as a co-worker along the journey as you plan for the impact on people, the effect on organizational culture and the new skills that will be required.
  • Get the basics right by focusing on your data-driven environment and on the requisite digital trust.  This is the time to overhaul or eliminate old,  inefficient processes rather then simply transferring them to a new environment.  It is also the time to infuse your intelligent technology with business-domain expertise so it can learn from the beginning.

  • Embrace open innovation. As I’ve already mentioned, there is no single technology solution that an organization can buy and install to get where it needs to go. Instead, it will need to employ a constellation of technologies along this journey. With new products coming out all the time, that won’t be difficult.

There is no doubt that intelligent automation will have a major impact on insurance.  Consider this scenario:

A customer completes an on-line application for an auto insurance quote, which automatically gets routed to a computer enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) to determine underwriting eligibility. The AI computer is constantly integrating real-time claims data, quote volume and segment-profitability data, and it uses this to determine which level of follow-up the app requires. If the app has only minor issues, the AI computer would feed it to a computer running robotic process automation (RPA) to check for discrepancies between the car’s loss-history report and the information provided by the customer.  An application requiring more complex evaluation or handling would be sent to a human underwriter.  And as time passes, the AI underwriting eligibility model computer would adapt itself to new situations and classify them more accurately – and perhaps tighten guidelines based on trends or loss pressure.    

Despite the obvious benefits of intelligent automation, the insurance industry has been more conservative in its AI investments than have other financial services industries. Insurance accounts for only 3% of the overall 2015 spending on cognitive systems. Banking made up 19% of the spend, while securities and investment services accounted for 7%.  Retail spending was tied with banking.

Meanwhile, after languishing since the 1970s, AI technology development and investment is flourishing.  AI startups in the U.S. alone have increased 20-fold between 2010 and 2014, according to CB insights. 

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