Intelligent Automation Promotes Growth

Today’s insurance executives are challenged to continuously reduce the cost of operations while also addressing the demands and expectations of increasingly tech-savvy customers. To achieve this, these executives are turning to intelligent automation to orchestrate and utilize human agents, achieve higher-quality outputs, enhance their customer experience and increase capacity to handle higher business volumes.

With that, intelligent automation is still an abstract topic for many. Based on my experience as Global Head of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Division at Sutherland, I'll discuss below how this equally transformative and disruptive technology is driving positive change across the global business community.

What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation is a more advanced form of what is commonly known as robotic process automation (RPA). It is essentially a software that mimics the behavior of an end user by using existing enterprise application screens or web pages to find, evaluate, cut, calculate, transform and enter data into existing, enterprise application fields according to business rules. This technology is ideal for many insurance processes, particularly those that are labor-intensive, such as new business applications handling, policy change administration, claims set-up and various finance and accounting activities. Any large-scale activities or groups of repetitive tasks that draw on or feed information to multiple systems is an intelligent automation candidate.

Because of its transformative nature, intelligent automation gives insurers a competitive advantage through lower-cost scalability, nimbleness by redeploying personnel to higher value work and an enhanced, customer-friendly brand image and relevance.

Does intelligent automation simply seek to replace humans?

The short answer is no, as intelligent automation does not simply seek to replace humans. The core benefit here is that processes can be increasingly improved and transformed by combining robotic efficiency with human judgment. Automation requires no training curve, doesn’t get distracted and cannot make a mistake if programmed correctly -- it simply follows the established rules and does so in the same manner every time, while flagging any exceptions for human eyes for further attention.

Conversely, there is no true substitute for human intelligence when there’s a need to use complex business rules, discretion or judgment to determine the proper course of action. In many insurance processes, well-designed RPA solutions not only automate high volume, routine tasks, they also leverage workflow to send intelligent automation process exceptions or cases that require complex decision-making to expert employees. As these cases are “actioned,” they are placed back into the workflow for downstream processing. In this way, the transformed process orchestrates both intelligent automation and human judgment to apply the specialized qualities of each to maximize efficiency, responsiveness and quality of transactions.

How can this technology drive improvements across my value chain?

With intelligent automation, insurers can process an application or claim in just a fraction of the time as humans. So, insurers are discovering that intelligent automation can have a major impact on back-office functions. However, successful automation programs can unshackle significant labor capacity while minimizing operational risk across the customer-facing facets throughout multiple insurance processes, too. Intelligent automation can conduct time-consuming verifications (compliance, credit and legal) for your insurance sales team ahead of time, thereby increasing prospect face-time. This technology can also streamline gathering of data for underwriting teams, expediting the new business quoting process while improving agent sales close ratios.

AI can also free up labor capacity in policy administration by automatically updating information on your customers, identifying discrepancies in claims or premiums paid, and more. This returns time to customer service for more complex or higher value, live customer interactions. Not to mention, automation can help forecast staffing needs while accommodating for seasonal fluctuations. Overall, the modern world moves at an unimaginable speed and establishes policy owner, market and agent expectations that insurers must meet to maintain satisfaction, loyalty and policy persistence.

What can be learned from intelligent automation?

There is so much to be learned from intelligent automation. Since this technology is still being adopted, we are only on the cusp of a tsunami of transformational change in operating philosophy that is going to prevail in the near future. Once intelligent automation or various forms of RPA are implemented within an organization, a wealth of information is available from the data surrounding those activities. Companies can use this new data and analytics to report on and gain insight on how to optimize labor capacity, conduct a Pareto analysis of top reasons for process exceptions, improve customer satisfaction and glean insights from new business process areas that could lead to opportunities for new product introductions from a marketing and sales standpoint.

To conclude, intelligent automation is a solution whose time has come. Companies can invest more resources into understanding customer needs and expectations, which in turn leads to improved productivity, reduced errors, lower-cost scalability and a greatly improved customer experience.

(Original article