As I mentioned in my last post, this year’s Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance report uncovers five emerging technology trends shaping the digital landscape. Let’s look at the first two of these trends in more depth.

Trend 1: Intelligent automation

With the increased footprint of digital technology, more business processes and objects are touched by software, expanding the scope of what can possibly be automated. What’s more, we’re seeing dramatic advances in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. In practice, that means intelligent automation will enable insurers to not only become more efficient, but also to innovate and evolve.

Some insurers are already deploying intelligent automation to transform their use of data. MS & AD Insurance Group, one of Japan’s major insurers, has introduced IBM’s Watson AI system to analyze texts and voice logs to assess customer claims automatically. Two P&C companies in the group have piloted Watson as a way to streamline contact center interactions with customers.

In our Technology Vision survey, the vast majority of insurance executives said they are making significantly more investments in AI-related technologies than two years ago. Around 82 percent plan on using machine learning and embedded AI solutions like Amelia more extensively, 73 percent aim to leverage video analytics and 75 percent are investing in machine learning.

For P&C insurers, the key takeaways for this trend are:

  • Intelligent automation will give insurers new-found power to drive change.
  • AI will become a core competence—a pervasive capability for every aspect of insurance.
  • Insurers should take a “people first” approach by adapting the enterprise’s organization, culture, skills and experience to use AI.

Trend 2: Liquid workforce

Digital technology is fundamentally changing every aspect of the insurance business—strategies, processes, job functions and business models. But today’s insurance workforce isn’t aligned with the demands of this digital era. Insurers need not only to adapt to meet evolving expectations from employees and consumers, but also to develop the skillsets to achieve their new goals.

For example, underwriters need to team with data scientists to leverage new and broader sets of data from both within and outside the company. Product developers, meanwhile, need to become proposition designers, focused on developing and delivering outcomes that customers value. And new roles may start to come to the fore, such as innovation architects who facilitate disruptive business models.

In the survey, insurance executives reported that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the third most important characteristic they required for employees to perform well in a digital work environment. The “ability to quickly learn new work requirements” and “proficiency with digital technologies” ranked higher.

Key takeaways of this trend are:

  • Address workforce disruptions today.
  • Recognize that an agile workforce is an agile business.

Insurers can start the transformation to a liquid workforce by:

  • Making training a core competency.
  • Becoming more project-oriented and agile.
  • Empowering collaboration and new ideas.
  • Managing a distributed workforce.
  • Overhauling silo-based structures and creating flatter, more organic teams.
  • Reviewing incentives and compensation to attract top talent.

In my next post, I’ll look at the remaining three trends.

In the meantime, to learn more, register to download the Technology Vision for Insurance 2016  full report.

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