Insurance is fast becoming a real-time, data-centric service stream, and this demands technology built for that environment.
In decades past, insurance was based on monolithic data - static blocks of knowledge about a customer, including age and health, or potential risk to an insured item. But today, data can be gathered in real time from reams of different sources and devices. This puts the customer front and centre of low-friction services.
Critically, it also speeds up and improves insurers' internal processes. One way of achieving this is via Intelligent Automation, which promises to enhance the way the industry serves customers and technology serves the business.
Repetitive, day-to-day workflows can be enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These can then be integrated into existing technology and data stacks via digital employees - software robots that can acquire specialist skills.
By automating essential, but low-value-adding tasks in this way, human workers are free to focus on the people-focused aspects of the business, fine-tuning them to customer needs.
For established companies such as RSA, intelligent automation has another overriding purpose: to save time within the enterprise. CIO David Germain says he is responsible for transforming the way IT operates internally, which both reshapes the customer experience and optimises business performance.
"Automation forms a core element of our strategy and key programmes, particularly around repeatable processes," he explains.
"Things such as streamlining and simplifying the customer journey and enabling greater self-service - something which is increasingly demanded in the back-office to enhance our testing, maintenance, and security capabilities.
"It also helps reduce processing time in order to minimise risk and disruption to our customers."
But are these benefits measurable? Germain says they are and has the figures to prove it. Within Claims, RSA has automated scripts across its Commercial and Personal Lines, which has driven down manual processing by more than 45%.
Automation has also improved the quality of the team's output by proactively identifying and resolving issues within the scripts, and automatically notifying user groups.
"One of our automations compares the many documents generated as part of the claims process and highlights variations. What was once a manual process and took days to complete now takes a matter of minutes, which means a much quicker response time for our customers," he says.
"Another automated process triages calls to ensure our customers reach the correct handling team as quickly as possible, which has reduced cycle time by more than 20%."
These time savings are impressive, and enable a better, faster experience at a time when consumers demand services that are swift, intuitive, low friction, and allow a degree of self-service.
Customer service numbers
What other benefits has Germain seen from Intelligent Automation? "We had a specific use case where a manual process was taking five days to process over 1,000 claims," he says. "Through automation, we were able to significantly reduce that processing time to just 45 minutes."
A knock-on effect of another enhanced process has been an improved customer experience, which has led to an increase in traffic on some platforms.
With automation able to handle most customers' needs, human support teams are now more available for any customers who need specialist assistance, he adds.
So, what does Germain believe are the core benefits of Intelligent Automation for RSA, in a market that is rapidly being disrupted by digital natives and data-fuelled fintechs?
For RSA, the benefits to date have been:
- Implementing an intelligent workforce planning tool to mine processes across the insurance lifecycle and identify low-value, repetitive tasks.
- Delivering a solution to ingest and process invoices in unstructured form to improve claim decisions.
- Enabling data scientists to accelerate a model-building and deployment process by adopting MLOps and automation through the analytics value chain.
- Defining virtual assistants to automate key customer interaction points and back-office services.
- Assessing low-code or no-code capabilities to automate key underwriting processes.
Yet the benefits of Intelligent Automation go far beyond cost savings and process efficiency, he explains. "It will enable our business to make better decisions, improve risk selection, improve productivity, and facilitate product and service innovation."
The business case for automation
Overall, there are four key elements to consider when building a business case for automation, says Germain.
- Risk: Automation can eliminate the risk of human error and customer harm - though businesses should remain watchful that automation is not doing the opposite, due to poor data about the customer or badly designed algorithms.
- Productivity: Automation can improve the speed at which the business can implement change, bringing new capabilities to customers faster. This is important in today's highly competitive fintech landscape.
- Cost: Automation removes manual processes that are resource heavy and improves the value proposition for customers.
- Innovation: With teams spending less time on making changes, there is more time to focus on customer interactions and product improvements. This also drives greater benefits and creates value for the customer.
To find out more about how insurance companies can use intelligent automation to better understand and serve their customers, read Computing's exclusive report, featuring four interviews with tech leaders trailblazing automation at their organisations.