by Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss, CEO & Co-Founder of omni:us
Artificial intelligence has become a superpower in transforming modern business processes yet is still shrouded in a degree of ambiguity. For many companies, the gap between ambition and execution is still evident, but the secret lies in understanding the power of this radical technology to enable companies to establish a competitive advantage and shape value creation from AI in their sectors.
AI solutions in the insurance and finance sectors in particular are becoming increasingly popular – and as a start-up or developer, it’s one of the most dynamic and promising business-areas to be active in right now. This is due to the fact that companies in these industries are dealing with snowballing amounts of highly variable documents, including forms, emails and invoices, claims and policy comparisons, the majority of which are still currently processed by hand. Predictions for this year for example, signal that insurance data will grow by 94% – 84% of which will be in unstructured documentation – and the industry is responding, with new technology from insurtech startups helping to digitally transform the management and administration of these information streams.
As technology progresses, a number of forward-thinking businesses in these sectors are seeing massive benefits from working with AI technology solutions to reduce the time and cost spent on administrative tasks considerably and diminish the countable risk of human error. Technology brought to market by omni:us for example, allows insurers to extract, review and analyse data from arbitrary documents featuring structured and unstructured data, including emails, incident reports, and invoices, as well as even low quality scanned documents, faxes, and handwritten forms to a much higher and accurate level than previously imagined.
Understanding the importance of data, is vital to any AI investment. AI algorithms don’t just start life as an ‘intelligent source’, they become intelligent only upon being trained with large amounts of data and, for most business applications, company-specific information. When specific tasks are fully digitised and automated this enables the technology to work more effectively and learn at a faster rate, while also freeing up resources in the existing human workforce, improving allocation of staff resources and giving companies the chance to create new added value roles in areas not previously considered, ultimately saving both time and money.
Transformation provides opportunity, including the creation of undiscovered roles in various sectors and essentially redeploying people to higher value work. As part of this, new innovations also expose the potential to improve employee quality of work/life balance, reducing the number of hours people spend at their desks and making working hours much more flexible. Concepts like working remotely or on a freelance basis are constantly increasing, and by many of us also preferred.
But if using AI makes so much sense, why are some companies and industries proving to be slow to adopt this technology? One reason may be that AI involves a significant change is the way businesses and sectors operate and the way in which processes and tasks are undertaken, as well potential restructuring and reorganisation as explained above. However, as we all know those businesses that fail to change and innovate tend to lose out in the long-run and we only have to look at the focus on investment in AI technology across Europe and the rest of the world to see where the future lies.
On a global level, countries like China are investing in AI in a governmental capacity and we’re also seeing large corporates, such as Google and Facebook also placing this type of technology front and centre in their plans for the future. Europe on the whole, including Germany, is financially a little behind the overall global development, however the market is a hot bed of development and it won’t be long before we see European and German initiatives beginning to shift focus more. Looking at the wider picture across Europe, funding, people, infrastructure and ecosystems are key factors that all play a vital role too.
As the competition in AI innovation continues to grow fiercer, it all about boils down to the technology and we are now seeing a steady stream of successful AI companies beginning to make their mark in the European market. For us at omni:us, we’re continuing to have a number of open conversations with insurers about how AI solutions can alter processes, portfolios and workforces. We’ve also closed promising deals with several key players in the insurance and banking sectors over the last year, and finance is another industry that is ripe for change and disruption with this technology.
Along with industry and business requirements, consumer needs have also dramatically changed in recent times and this is driving change in terms of demand. To better connect with their customers and discover the products and services that best suit the changing needs of today, insurance and financial services firms are having to design and develop fresh new strategies and embrace innovative technologies. In times to come, there’s no doubt that AI will provide companies with next-level insight into consumer trends and allow them to react and deliver solutions appropriately with precise intelligence.
While there are already various AI models transforming production and business, organisational flexibility is a centre of them all. As number of legacy businesses are starting to make initial investments into technology that closes the gap in machine-to-machine information transfer and revolutionizes business processes, further companies are sure to follow. And this is also encouraging further cooperation with startups which enables faster innovation and allows more bespoke solutions into the market to target specific problems. For as businesses and industries become more aware of the cost and time saving solutions AI can provide, the more tailored solutions will be required – one size will not fit all with AI, and that will be the case as the technology takes an even stronger hold on the transformation of business processes.
As well as the insurance and finance industries further sectors such as retail, marketing education and health care are ripe for change with new AI technology, some of which is being developed faster than it can be implemented. The businesses that will succeed in the long-term however will be those that embrace change and innovation and see the true potential for AI technology to fundamentally change the way they operate with regard to every aspect of the supply and demand chain: from customer care through to efficiency, employee management and beyond.