April Focus: Automation and RPA

ITL FOCUS is a monthly initiative featuring topics related to innovation in risk management and insurance.

This month, we're focusing on Automation and RPA

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Sometimes, innovation takes time. 

Some 30 years ago, I wrote an article for the front page of the second section of the Wall Street Journal that declared a revolution in forms. We were far enough along in the personal computer revolution that software companies were coming out with products that would let users fill out forms on-screen, speeding the process and eliminating the errors that occurred as someone had to interpret people's handwriting. Even more magical, the spread of local area networks meant that information could flow straight from my screen into a corporate database, with no never to ever print the form and have someone re-enter the data.  

Everything I wrote was correct, and forms did take a major step forward, but, here we are three decades later, still drowning in forms. And the insurance industry is Exhibit A.

I realize that, in many ways, the need for clarity and standardization means insurance has to think in forms -- certainly, many regulators do. But there is so much inefficiency tied up in filling out forms, processing them and gathering them for use in underwriting and claims that I've been trying as hard as I can for years to drive people to consider the sort of automation that is the ITL Focus this month. 

As you'll see from this month's interview with Nigel Walsh, a longtime consultant who is now managing director, insurance, at Google, he's pretty much moved beyond automation. His thinking is: Why automate a process when you can do away with it entirely? 

He does acknowledge that automation can deliver loads of incremental gains, and the six articles I've highlighted this month lay out a number of possibilities for you to consider. 

The whole experience with automation reminds of two lines I use often (apologies, if you've heard them before). 

One is a Silicon Valley bromide: Never confuse a clear view with a short distance. That's something I did with forms and do all the time -- even though I know to never confuse a clear view with a short distance.

The other is one I came up with on my own: Let's burn all the fax machines. They, to me, are such a symbol of antiquated technology and of the inefficiency in our industry. Let's automate all of them out of existence, then turn our attention to doing away with all the forms that we use fax machines to send back and forth.

I may have been much too early about expecting forms to go away, but I'll eventually be right. Really, I will.





As part of this month's ITL Focus on automation and RPA, we spoke with Nigel Walsh, managing director, insurance, at Google, about how far automation has progressed -- and about how to think about what comes next. Why automate a form or a process when you can simply eliminate it? 

""I think things have played out quite well. Bit by bit, area by area, division by division, process by process, things have improved. Adoption of automation throughout insurance businesses increased, without question, and there's no end of processes left to go, I would guess.""

-Nigel Walsh
Read the Full Interview



Stocking Caps and

How Amazon’s approach to selling
the former can help you move
more of the latter.

Read More

Insurers Turn to Automation

When automation is a core
technology, transformation can
occur at speed, meaning faster
return on digital investment.

Read More

What’s Beyond Robotic
Process Automation

RPA is a primitive technology and represents only a small part of
what’s needed to scale and allow
for straight-through processing

Read More

Tipping Point for Claims Automation

While virtual estimating for
auto claims—using photos in place
of a physical inspection—is not
new, the pandemic has made
it the preferred method.

Read More

How to Automate Your Automation

It's crucial to take a top-down a
pproach, to get a bird’s-eye view
of all of processes, to be able to
see which will benefit from RPA.

Read More

How Automation Adds
to Need for Humans

Automation does not mean industry professionals will be left out in
the cold.In fact, the opposite may
be true.

Read More



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Insurance Thought Leadership

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Insurance Thought Leadership

Insurance Thought Leadership (ITL) delivers engaging, informative articles from our global network of thought leaders and decision makers. Their insights are transforming the insurance and risk management marketplace through knowledge sharing, big ideas on a wide variety of topics, and lessons learned through real-life applications of innovative technology.

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