The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Here!
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by the confluence of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, will lead to a net loss of more than 5 million jobs in major developed and emerging economies such as the Ù.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, China and India by 20201.
This industrial revolution will be characterized by the automation of many office functions previously performed by knowledge workers. Specialized tasks, many of which were previously not considered candidates for automation, such as grading an essay written by a high school student, examining a retina scan or recommending a course of medical treatment have successfully been automated.
In financial service industries such as insurance and banking, scores of business functions involve knowledge and experience to be completed, such as underwriting, claims adjudication and credit rating. Today, these business functions are successfully being automated by software broadly termed Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or simply “digital workers.” RPA, in combination with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and business process management (BPM), can automate high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required a human to perform.
While some organizations have started adopting digital workers, others are still coming to terms with how to implement this new species of workers who can perform the work of trained and qualified human employees. These organizations are rapidly realizing that digital worker software is uniquely different and cannot be viewed like any other banking or insurance application software which may improve efficiency but which still requires human interaction with the application in order to complete a business function. Adopters of RPA are coming to understand that when they implement such software, they are hiring, training and operating digital workers – something that has never happened before. These workers will do exactly as they are told to, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without complaining or taking time off!
What Digital Workers can Deliver for Your Company, Today
Insurers and banks can derive immediate benefit by deploying digital workers to automate business functions. Financial service enterprises employ large teams of workers across operations in functions such as policy servicing, claims, new business, underwriting, premium receipts and benefit payments. These business processes typically include a large volume of repetitive case processing functions that must be completed with high accuracy and short turnaround time. In the highly competitive financial services industry, every insurer and bank is competing to issue policy contracts or disburse loans in the shortest possible time without compromising the quality rigor associated with these processes. The use of robot automated processes can positively impact these organizations’ profits by reducing costs.
The next level of benefits can be obtained by automating advisory functions. In financial services, this may include sales activities such as analyzing or processing complex business cases such as the underwriting of a global petrochemical company or recommending suitable financial products to a client. Digital workers in advisory function will require a higher level of intelligence and may be processing lower case volumes when compared to digital workers used to automate more repetitive, less variable tasks. These digital workers will greatly enhance the customer experience by being available any time of the day, in contrast to standard office hours.
Digital workers can seamlessly co-exist with human employees. A digital worker can perform part of a business function, passing the remaining work on to be completed by a human worker, or alternatively take a partially completed task from a human worker and complete the process. For example, a digital worker can complete an underwriting case completely on its own, or in another scenario, pass a case on to a human worker to complete because there are some tasks the digital worker is not trained to complete. In another scenario, an enterprise can have digital workers and human workers carry out distinct functions. For example, claim benefit payout approval is performed by human workers while all other routine case processing is performed by digital workers.
Putting Robotic Process Automation to Work for Your Enterprise
There are a few critical success factors to deploying RPA or digital workers to productively benefit your business. The first is to identify a process or series of tasks that these digital workers can perform with no or minimal disruption to current systems that will deliver significant cost savings or efficiency improvements that will enhance service levels, such as policy issuance turnaround time. A digital worker that is twice as fast as a human worker can result in a seven to nine-fold daily or weekly productivity gain, simply based on the fact that a human worker is productive only seven hours a day, five days a week.
Robotic Process Automation solutions are a reality today. To learn more about how your enterprise can benefit from RPA and make it a game changer for your business, please download our white paper – 8 Things an Insurance COO must know about RPA.
For a further deep-dive on the topic, do not miss our upcoming webinar on 20 October; 1 PM-2 PM US EST, ‘Reimagine Insurance Operations with Robotic Process Automation’ hosted by VirtusaPolaris and Pegasystems. Register today!
1 The Future of Jobs, World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab and Richard Samans, 2016.