A Bit about Bots

Automation and chat bots are just around the corner for insurers

Key Takeaway

In 2004 online marketing and quoting seemed like a good idea; in 2017 automation feels like a necessity.

Donald Light, one of our colleagues at Celent, published a report last week called “What Advice Would You Give to a Bot Looking for a Job in an Insurance Company?” The report is based on a survey that asked CIOs for their views on the potential of automation.

The findings are pretty much what one would expect: larger insurers see greater possibilities for bots (specifically automation bots and chat bots) than smaller insurers. Of the two types, there is more confidence in chat bots, with nearly all respondents seeing potential there.

However, one response did jump out: when asked about their IT group’s ability to implement bots, all the CIOs said “within 12 months,” and for automation bots, nearly half said they are ready right now. Put another way, for these cutting-edge technologies, the least ready insurers are only 12 months away.

It may take a certain length of tooth to appreciate this result. Fortunately, we have such long teeth, or at least Celent does. In 2004 Celent took a survey of property & casualty insurers. Asked about “online marketing,” 10% said they had no plans to offer it; 18% had no plans to offer online quoting. We can imagine that these plans changed, but the contrast in readiness is striking.

Even if one assumes that the CIOs are overly optimistic (we would not; insurance CIOs are generally grounded) and that some of the IT teams’ agility comes from a greater willingness to partner with third parties, the conclusion is the same: Automation is that important. In 2004 online marketing and quoting seemed like a good idea; in 2017 automation feels like a necessity.

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