The robots may be coming for insurance companies. But I’d say that’s good news all around, with positive implications for both back-office and customer-facing operations.
Thanks to the advancement of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, this friendly digital takeover is gaining momentum. And for the insurance industry’s technology experts, there are now growing, robotically-charged opportunities to improve efficiency and lower costs – by significantly reducing manual effort.
Insurance technology’s first big experiments with robotics are typically focused on RPA, the global market for which is predicted to soar from $125.2 million in 2015 to $8.75 billion by 2024. “RPA tools really come into play with what you might call ‘swivel chair’ work” says Todd Prario, chief technology officer for FIS’ insurance business. “We’re talking about the times when a user needs to connect to multiple systems or information sources to complete a task or find an answer.”
A good example of this kind of activity lies in the field of insurance investment accounting. For month-end reconciliations, accountants must usually download cash and positions data from their internal system into a spreadsheet, then access online reports from all of their banks and custodians – often in a range of different formats.
While manually obtaining and matching these records is highly labor intensive, RPA technology has the potential to automate the whole process within a more efficient, less error-prone framework. Similarly, it could help actuaries orchestrate the time-consuming task of gathering discount rate data from third-party websites to feed their modeling calculations.
Robotically speaking, the next step up from RPA is AI – or, if you like, smart process automation. “With AI and machine learning,” continues Todd Prario, “insurers can start relying more on robots to make cognitive decisions about less structured data.”
Think of all those handwritten forms that insurers are still scanning into their systems, where a simple smudge can make a letter or word illegible. Today, it might take human intelligence to decipher what the writer intended to convey. But over time, AI engines can “machine learn” from human decisions – and as their database gets richer, need less and less human help.
However, what the robots are not doing is taking human beings out of the picture. Think of them as giving people a promotion and your customers a break. By ridding staff of low-value, mundane tasks, RPA and AI solutions allow them to use their brainpower more effectively for increased job satisfaction and snappier service. Robotics also leaves employees more time to focus on innovation and revenue generating tasks– and, above all, time to develop stronger personal relationships with colleagues and customers alike.
With human lives, health and property often at stake, insurance customers deserve the highest levels of personal care and attention. Through the implementation of robotic technologies, insurers can not only run their operations more efficiently but also deliver a next-generation customer experience with a uniquely human touch. So why not give robots a warm welcome to your business?