“Unprecedented” is hands-down the word of 2020. It has been used to describe everything that’s occurred during the pandemic from Supreme Court nominees to infection rates, lock downs, social activism, volunteerism, stock market records—even mortgage rates.
The insurance industry has also seen its share of never-experienced-before events. For example, many insurers went completely digital in their interactions for the first time, transitioned employees to work from home, and incorporated new technologies to foster communication, collaboration and customer service at a record rate.
However, a recent COVID-19 Technology and Business Process survey carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of ABBYY found that 74 percent of workers experienced challenges with business processes while working from home. That’s despite 64 percent of companies implementing new technologies to improve remote workers’ productivity.
Moving past “unprecedented” requires reflecting on how you tackled challenges and applying the lessons to make better decisions in the year ahead. Here are three that relate directly to how technology impacted workers’ daily tasks.
Look before you leap. You’ve heard this idiom before, but a lot of insurance leaders certainly jumped in too quickly when they automated manual processes with robotic process automation (RPA) and moved on-premise systems to the cloud. Many decision-makers did not look at how processes actually worked before adding digitization and intelligent automation technologies, according to a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey, causing only 55 percent of companies to believe their automation program has been successful to date.
Going forward, do a complete evaluation of your entire business process ecosystem and how workers interact with them before deploying new tools. By having a bird’s eye view of your operations through new technologies such as process intelligence, you can discover redundancies and bottlenecks and plan for improvements that show true value and cost savings. Bosses often “think” they know how their processes work based on opinion or bias, which is often far from reality. You may discover, even in hindsight, that dropping an RPA robot into a process is only part of the solution and completely transforming and simplifying the entire process is required.
Content is king. Having access to policy information proved critical to serving customers. Whether it was processing first notice of loss (FNOL) reports and the documentation that supports them, managing customer service inquiries or onboarding new clients, more advanced tools were needed to access and understand the hordes of information that help underwriters, claims handlers and adjudicators make better decisions faster. Customers were already frustrated enough with health and safety concerns and social distancing constraints without having to deal with insurance agents incapable of approving a policy or answering a claim’s status in a timely manner.
This is why adding artificial intelligence skills to RPA and OCR software to augment human intelligence will be used by more than one-third of companies to boost work in 2021, according to a report by market researchers Forrester. The augmented RPA bots will be able to read and understand content and its context to aid humans while they are working within a process workflow. In a customer onboarding example, information from a form submitted via email or web will be automatically extracted, classified and ingested into systems and key information from DMV records or past policy information will be flagged for the insurance agent to further investigate. This saves the agent hours per policy in researching historical documents to make a sound decision on policy approvals.
AI is actually not that hard. The COVID-19 Technology and Business Process report found that 46 percent of respondents were introduced to RPA bot and other intelligent automation tools and deemed them successful in helping them to do their job better. Insurance leaders learned that AI is not as complicated as it seems. Those using bots spent up to two hours a day with them, and those who wished they had a bot claim they could save up to 54 days per year.
Looking forward into 2021, you will see a new generation of low code/no code tools on the market that empower more business users to have access to AI technology without needing to rely on IT for configuration, training and deployment. There will also be more digital marketplaces, like an online shop where companies can buy specific skills for their digital colleagues depending on the types of content and processes they are working with. This provides staff with sophisticated tools at their fingertips to simplify everyday tasks that will in the end improve customer interactions.