Under the Microscope: RPA in the Insurance Industry

Written by Edmundo Costa in Software robots in the workplace on March 30, 2017

A soon-to-be-released study by HfS Research, in conjunction with KPMG, found that 44 percent of BFSI organizations are planning to make significant investments in RPA over the next two years. The study also found that banks and insurance companies prioritize cost savings more than any other industry sector.

There's no question that driving down operating costs is a key automation goal for many organizations. But the discussions during and after my presentation at KPMG's recent "Digital Labor Symposium for Insurers" made it clear that insurance companies have expectations for and are using automation and digital workforces to meet many other corporate objectives.

For example, a medium-sized insurer in the Midwestern United States was converting to a new policy system. Instead of utilizing the hundreds of FTEs that would traditionally have been required for the conversion process, the company opted instead to deploy an army of bots to handle the data conversion, as it knew the bots would be able to meet its very tight deadline with no errors.  The conversion of the policy system provided the validation for a much broader, enterprise-wide, digital workforce initiative.

A leading U.S. health insurance company is using RPA in a blended bot/human solution to reduce its average handling time for each member enrollment by 30 percent, improve its quality by 99.97 percent, and increase its agent productivity by 30 percent. And another top U.S. insurer is using RPA to increase its members' satisfaction by eliminating repetitive, error-prone manual data entry tasks and accelerating turnaround time by 70 percent.

Top of mind among all the Symposium delegates was how to get their organization to embrace the digital workforce transformation journey. One of Automation Anywhere's clients, Veronique Sani, CEO of French bank Société Générale's Global Solutions Center, eloquently addressed this issue in a recent webinar, "Building a Digital Workforce with Société Générale." Summing up her key takeaways from her own experience:

  • Establish conviction for the RPA program among your leadership team and key stakeholders. Take the time necessary to evangelize and explain.
  • Place immense focus on the people impact by running a people program in parallel with your RPA program.
  • Carefully evaluate and select your tool and consulting/implementation partners.

Another hot topic of discussion was the application of machine learning to automation, in particular for data extraction. When integrated with RPA, machine learning technologies capture streams of semi-structured data and process significantly more tasks within an end-to-end digital process with a minimized error rate. In essence, it paves a "digital highway" that captures, enriches, and validates data sets to feed into software bots for processing at scale. Adding natively embedded real-time analytics completes the equation by providing real-time, actionable intelligence through business insights, and digital workforce performance measurement by leveraging massive amounts of content-level and productivity data that the deployed bots generate, touch, interact with, and process.


Path to Digital Processes


The breadth and depth of the Symposium sessions – which included topics such as the rise of the virtual employee, ethics and compliance in the digital era, leveraging digital labor in insurance operations, and creating a digital labor center of excellence – made it clear to participants that RPA is far from a theoretical discussion in the insurance and broader BFSI industry.  Indeed, it's happening now, and gaining traction. Evidence of this is that two of the five largest U.S. banks, two of the 10 largest insurance companies, and one of the five largest investment banks in the world are in the midst of major digital workforce transformations on our platform.

Not surprisingly, one of top 10 insurers was in attendance at the Symposium, and chose to remain anonymous and largely quiet throughout the discussions. But whether with closed or open kimono, the industry experts agree it's time insurers took the automation leap to insure their ability to compete in the digital world.