Even as technology progresses rapidly, it's important to remember that culture and practices at insurers rarely change as quickly.
In recent years, insurers have taken an active interest in a wide range of tools and technologies that fall under the “emerging” label. This label covers a spectrum: Tech approaching ubiquity, like mobile and predictive analytics, is on one end, and tech with low adoption rates, like blockchain and smart home, populates the other end. The five technologies that fall in the middle of the range are receiving a flurry of attention from insurers: artificial intelligence (AI), big data, sensors and telematics, drones and robotic process automation (RPA).
Our study of more than 100 insurer CIO participants shows that while 15% to 25% of insurers have made deployments in this middle group of technologies, equal or greater numbers of carriers are actively planning pilot programs for 2018, and these technologies are poised for rapid growth. Most pilot activity is in digital and analytics areas as insurers look to these five emerging technologies to improve risk analysis, fraud detection, service and operating efficiency.
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Under the umbrella of AI, machine learning is being used to improve the performance of rating or fraud-detection algorithms. Carriers are also embracing AI to mine unstructured data from images and raw text as they move forward in their journeys to improve data analytics.
With the growth of AI and predictive analytics comes an increasing importance of big data. For about a quarter of insurers, the use of big data tools, such as Hadoop and NoSQL, is common. Less common is the use of big data sets such as weather data and raw internet consumer data. Regardless, insurers are planning explorations and pilot activity in both areas.
Tools within the space of sensors (IoT) and telematics are maturing, moving beyond simple rating discounts. These tools are especially gaining traction and adoption in property/casualty; value messages are evolving to include value-added services, providing customers with greater risk management tools.
The use of drones is enabling the capture of certain types of information for the first time. As a result, drones are quickly becoming a standard tool for both property inspections and claims. Most property/casualty insurers report a positive value, though most are working with service partner providers rather than building their own capabilities.
RPA holds high interest for insurers and is an area of active pilot programs. While not a transformative technology, RPA is a valuable short-term fix for poorly designed systems and processes that helps avoid expensive reengineering.
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The important thing to keep in mind is that technology changes faster than culture and practices at most insurance companies. To fully leverage the capabilities offered by emerging technology, carriers should look at their products and processes in light of new technical, market and customer realities. Harnessing the growth of emerging technologies should lead to improved risk analysis, streamlined processes and better business results for insurance companies in 2018 and beyond.