Feeding information to hungry robots: 6 actions for creating your strategic roadmap for automation
6 mins read
Automation will transform most jobs in the insurance sector over the next decade.
It isn’t a new concept, but one that’s quickly evolving and is on the digital agenda of most insurers needing to reduce their operational costs after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Data is at the heart of automation’s evolution and its explosive growth presents several challenges, including the sheer volume that the insurance industry must deal with, from back office finance applications, to front office and customer service sales engagements, to customer onboarding and first notification of loss and claims processes.
Identifying and understanding data is the first step on the automation journey. Where does it reside? How can we access it? In order to do so, we need strong information architecture as the first step on our ladder.
Some data may be ‘challenging’ – it might be unstructured, it may need refinement, it could be in disparate locations and be from different sources. So, we need to fuse it together to gain actionable insights and productivity gains.
The next step requires using smart analytics techniques to identify and understand the data’s patterns and trends.
Once we’ve taken these steps, we can truly progress, to advance automation further to help us to solve business problems more efficiently.
We discuss the action that insurance companies need to take to properly prepare themselves and their data for automation in our recent webinar, run in partnership with The Insurance Network. Listen to it here
In the meantime, here are six actions that you can take now to develop a strategic roadmap for your automation journey – to make sure that it goes in the right direction and that you arrive at your destination on time and in good shape:
Developing a strategic roadmap for automation
When you set out on your automation journey, it’s important to have a set of strategic goals that work with both a bottom-up and a top-down approach.
Smart automation requires you to have a set of key criteria. Preparing for and developing a roadmap for automation, tackling legacy systems and adopting a culture that embraces automation are all vital.
We ran a poll during our webinar, asking participants about the options for developing a strategic roadmap for automation.
Enabling more efficient operations was overwhelmingly the highest priority for our participants. This is fairly predictable in the post-Covid-19 world, where many insurers are looking at reducing their operational costs, following revenue shortfalls and increased claims, and provide a superior customer experience.
When you’re formulating a strategy for your roadmap for automation, you need to consider different things based on your circumstances.
Action 1: Pinpoint where you are on your automation journey
Have you just started out on your journey and yet to decide on a platform, or have you already initiated your roadmap and have technology available?
Your strategy will be different depending on your answer. This is because you will have to re-platform whatever you have already or, if you haven’t chosen a platform yet, you’ll need to decide where automation will be most successful, and tie this into your organisation’s overall vision.
It’s worth noting that your automation goals aren’t separate from your organisation goals - they all help the organisation to steer in the right direction. In the beginning, the most important milestone is to align strategy.
Action 2: Find partners who will help you to plan for and achieve your automation strategy’s goal
For early adopters, it’s good to have some siloed automations in place to review as examples of areas where your organisation might achieve more efficiencies. To gain momentum and buy-in, it’s important to share your vision with the organisation as soon as possible and establish how automation helps to achieve the bigger vision.
Establish buy-in by producing and communicating use cases of processes that have been successfully automated and demonstrating their increased efficiency. You’ll attract champions for your automation project across the organisation, who support you and want you to succeed.
Establish a key team who will become your cheerleaders, endorsing and driving the project and helping you to achieve the quick wins you need. It can be very easy to get lost in the complexity of automation, so having a team of supporters helps you to get started, stay on track and remain flexible and mobile.
Action 3: Align your automation strategy to your organisation’s transformation agenda and understand what’s going to happen to your data
These two things go hand in hand. If you want to reorganise all your data, you need to be aware that what you’re trying to automate needs to align to the data, which must not change otherwise your attempts at automation will be useless.
Automation is a good way to do a proof of concept of how you can test your data to make your organisation more efficient. It can lead to significant data transformation in the future.
Action 4: Consider your automation strategy’s goal
During our webinar, AIG ‘s Director of Statistical Machine Learning, Yuanyuan Liu, said that a strategic roadmap is based on the vision. It’s important to consider what your automation goal is. In most cases, automation can be used to increase data augmentation. Typically, most insurers use automation to achieve better analytics and, specifically, better risk assessment models.
So if your goal is to have this embedded into your underwriting process, or your insurance product design, it is advisable to design it at a macro level with your the high-level data sources defined.
When you’re designing a roadmap, you need to decide what you need to achieve. You may need to meet challenges such as consolidating your legacy systems or if you are looking at wider projects such as building a data lake, or if you plan to start collecting data from different sources or in different ways.
If you’re doing this as an outsourced project, look at your organisation’s key drivers and what it wants to achieve in the next few years. It’s then easier to identify your automation goals and formulate a strategy that will enable you to achieve them.
It is important to define if you want to use the data to solve one challenge, automate one process or use the elements to help you to design your insurance product better.
Once you’ve identified your goals, you can identify the appropriate approach.
Action 5: Find your data and use it to get traction for your automation strategy
When you’re creating a data maturity strategy for your organisation, it’s good to understand early on if there’s a lot of siloed, or inaccessible, data.
Automation often has a role to play at various stages of your strategic journey. It may involve testing out processes for moving data from one area to another, creating a data lake or a cloud-hosted data repository, or testing out automation models to turn into significant data technology-related solutions for your business processes.
At the beginning of your automation journey, you may be able to take advantage of a set of ‘bite sized’ opportunities - small projects that you can use to gain traction for your wider strategy. These tend to be finance-, accounting-, or HR-driven, because these are very static processes, frequently carried out, and are good focus areas for getting small projects underway.
Action 6: Get specialist input into your automation strategy
Getting the help of the automation specialists in your organisation can be invaluable in getting your automation journey started and for identifying when you can demonstrate some quick wins.
The beauty of automation is that it doesn’t need to integrate. So, in as little as six weeks, you can transform how an automated process might work. In doing so, you get buy-in from across your organisation, not just for your automation project but for the rest of the transformation to be undertaken.
Ask your internal specialists or external partners to run a series of workshops with you to evaluate the processes that you want to automate and to keep your project moving.
It’s a good idea to run a data discovery workshop during the early days of the project, to build your focus. These workshops, such as the ones run by Capita Consulting, are designed to understand your organisation, look at where your key pain points are, see what challenges lie ahead, and identify quick wins.
After a couple of sprints, if you can show that by implanting a few easy automations significant changes in efficiency and value can be demonstrated, therefore building a picture of how this might grow into a larger automation project and a wider data transformation strategy, and get momentum and backing for your project.
You can get more practical help with starting your automation journey at our complimentary data discovery workshop.
Automation Practice Director, Capita
Grainne has over 10 years' experience developing and implementing strategy with a particular focus on using data to improve business outcomes.