While there is much speculation that artificial intelligence (AI) will put many people out of work, the real story may be more nuanced. For the insurance business, this may actually mean more instances of humans and machines working together, augmenting each other’s skills and insights.

This means more strategic roles for humans, the optimists say. In their new book, Human + Machine, Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson, both with Accenture, state that we are entering an era in which machines are taking over much of the grunt work associated with tasks, elevating the roles of humans to adopt more strategic roles. “AI technology will do what it does best – sifting through and processing copious data to recommend certain actions; and humans doing what they do best – exercising their judgment and social skills to help customers purchase products that better fit their needs.

“In the front office, AI is poised to help companies improve the experiences and outcomes for every critical customer interaction, including interactions in three key functions: sales, marketing and customer service,” Daugherty and Wilson say. “In those areas, AI has been both automating employee tasks and augmenting workers’ own capabilities.”

One thing is clear -- AI means much more than simply automating existing processes. If anything, AI has become an important tool to developing processes that were not even conceivable just a couple of years ago. Insurance companies have been taking the lead with AI in areas such as telematics, which has opened up to new ways of doing business. Daugherty and Wilson cite the example of State Farm, which “combines skills scores with drivers’ biometric data, including emotional states, captured from a variety of sensors and cameras. Its data analytics lets the company customize its rates to more closely match actual risk and driver safety levels.”

Daugherty and Wilson point to the following ways in which AI could benefit insurance companies:

  • More customer-aware operations. Businesses will be employing AI to provide customer personalization – automatically recognizing customers and pulling up presences and transaction histories.
  • Super salespeople. “From automatically sending perfectly composed via a digital assistant to cleverly and quickly organizing sales data, AI is offloading some of the major time sinks of sales teams.”
  • Brand strengthening. “When AI performs the job of customer interaction, the software can become a primary way for a company to distinguish itself from competitors. In these scenarios, AI ceases being simply a technological tool; it becomes the face of the brand, just as Alexa is now becoming the face of Amazon’s brand.”
  • New job opportunities. As AI systems became more advanced, they will require increasing levels of training. For instance, bots like Siri and Alexa already need considerable training by humans to display the appropriate amount of empathy when a customer is frustrated, angry or anxious. Executives need to pay attention to the skills to ensure that they have the employees they need to perform that training.”

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