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IBM’s Watson Puts P&C CEOs In ‘Jeopardy’

A good friend of Insurance-Canada.Ca recently took IBM’s Watson Technology to Munich Re’s annual CEO roundtable.  Could this be the entree point for more sophisticated use of analytics by P&C insurers through natural language queries?

IBM’s Watson is popularly known for its success in defeating two human champions in the quiz show Jeopardy  in January 2011.  As we noted at the time,  Jamie Bisker, IBM’s insurance industry relationship manager, and occasional  Insurance-Canada.ca P&C Technology Conference speaker, has been taking Watson around the world, demonstrating its abilities to process natural language and access deep knowledge bases.

At the Munich Re Roundtable, Bisker gave attendees the opportunity of ‘meeting’ Watson, and discussed opportunities beyond winning quiz shows.   In March of this year, Citigroup, Inc. became IBM’s first financial services client for Watson’s services.  Cited in Bloomberg,   IBM indicates Watson “can read and understand 200 million pages in three seconds … helping financial firms identify risks, rewards and customer wants mere human experts may overlook. ”

Watson is already set to work in Health Insurance.  In September 2011, Wellpoint, Inc., the largest US health benefits company in terms of medical membership, announced that it had licensed the Watson technology to “to help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care.”

So what could this mean for P&C insurers.  According to the Munich Re release, “A Watson-like question answering system could advance self-service by answering agents’ questions about products or customers’ questions about policies. Or it could automate accurate answers to complex claims questions posed by policyholders or even third-party claimants. Each answer would add to the body of knowledge, making the system smarter.”

We think this is just scratching the surface.  What about the possibilities in underwriting, fraud detection, professional lines risk management?

Before Watson takes over all thinking, help us speculate on uses in your organization.  What would Watson services help with?  What would be too much for Watson?   Leave your comments and let’s talk.

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