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Align with Automation

While the concept of automation has been around for a long time, innovative new intelligent automation technologies are sparking a rethink of technology’s role in growth. The global insurance industry has reached something of a tipping point.

Constrained by limited growth, buffeted by changing regulations and on the receiving end of significant changes in customer behavior, insurers are finding it
challenging to identify and execute on the right growth strategy. But pioneers are applying intelligent automation to change that for the better.

The insurance industry employs large numbers of people who are engaged in high-volume and sometimes repetitive transactions. In parallel, the industry is also drowning in the data they acquire and use to drive their processes and decisions, which makes it difficult to separate the insight from the noise.

Today, however, people are increasingly using intelligent automation, which includes robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and analytics, to augment their jobs and extend their capabilities by harnessing that flood of data to streamline processes and perform them flawlessly. Insurers are quickly learning that the right combination of people and processing power working side by side is the answer to many of their most pressing challenges.

Robotic process automation is one example of early-stage intelligent automation. While the software bots used in RPA execute the same processes that humans do, the bot captures all the details of a specific process and stores it for potential auditing later. The bot generates a high volume of operational process data and metrics, supporting advanced analytics and operational intelligence in the areas of fraud detection and prevention, regulatory compliance and customer

experience management, among others. An insurer using AI in one major area such as underwriting and policy service may be able to automate a broad range
of processes, including underwriting and pricing; rating, quoting and issuance; policy administration and service; and required minimum distribution. With AI interfaces on the front end, insurers also can automate the sales and application part of the equation.

Currently, AI is best suited to simpler products, but the capabilities—and customers’ comfort with them—are improving rapidly. Promising candidates for using AI in other areas include distribution (management of agent paperwork and conducting compliance, legal, credit and identification checks); claims (automating input of manually submitted notices); and general administration (extracting customer complaints from an intranet web form or external website and loading them into a complaints management system).

Insurers using intelligent automation solutions benefit from reductions in handling times and processing costs as well as the elimination of human errors. Payback from RPA investments, for example, can be realized in as little as three months, and, since RPA software bots work with existing IT infrastructure, there is no complex system integration. Implementation is quick and process elements can be readily re-used.

Broader intelligent automation solutions will take longer to implement but will also pay higher dividends in helping workers improve productivity, focus on high-value outcomes and enhance the overall customer experience. With intelligent automation, the key point is that this is a technology designed by people, for people.

A successful intelligent automation transformation involves humans and machines working together, extending human capabilities to do more creative, judgment-based work while automating more routine tasks.

Best’s Review columnist John Cusano is a senior managing director in Accenture’s global insurance practice. He can be reached at bestreviewcomment@ambest.com.

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