- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

The Agent Advisor: Virtual, but Very Real

Watson, the computer made famous for winning on the quiz show Jeopardy!, is getting a lot of media attention. Already, the medical profession has already adopted Watson Oncology Advisor to advise physicians in selecting appropriate treatment protocols for their patients. Watson and cognitive computing has captured the imagination of leading insurers and banks who are serious about using cognitive computing to provide more effective customer service. With its ability to scale expertise within organizations, Watson is making ripples in the Insurance industry, becoming a trusted (virtual) advisor to both customers and agents.

USAA using Watson to advise on military transition to civilian life

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 155,000 military members make the change every year. USAA, the insurance and financial services firm that caters to the military and their families, is using Watson Engagement Advisor in a pilot to help serve military men and women as they transition from military to civilian life.

Watson is putting its processing power toward answering challenging questions from USAA members about moving from a military to a civilian career. By accessing Watson Engagement Advisor via or using a mobile browser to “Ask Watson,” USAA members will be able to ask questions specific to leaving the military on topics such as job searching, home purchasing, military benefits and more.

Watson has analyzed more than 3,000 specialized military transition documents, so it knows all the rules and regulations. It quickly combs through thousands of USAA documents providing answers to members’ inquiries, gaining more knowledge and experience over time.

The best part? Its natural language processing allows it to understand real questions asked in diverse ways. Even if someone doesn’t know how to ask a question just the right way, Watson can still attempt to figure out the meaning at the heart of what they’re saying.

Watson at your (customer) service

USAA is a leader in delivering exceptional member service and innovative tools to its members, which is why they are working with IBM to redefine how a digital assistant interacts, learns and gains value over time by creating exceptional digital experiences.

USAA is known for its innovation and exceptional member service. Shon Manasco, executive vice president of member experience at USAA and a veteran, calls the Watson pilot a continuation of their commitment to find “distinctive ways to make our members’ lives easier. We expect to learn how intelligent assistants like IBM Watson can help service members who may not know exactly where or how to start the daunting transition process.”

USAA is the first to commercialize the use of Watson as a consumer-facing application – but this is only the beginning of the transformation of customer engagement in the Insurance sector.

The rise of the digital consumer has spawned a range of online, mobile and social media consumer trends that require organizations to deepen their interactions with customers and transform the way they provide marketing, sales and service. Consumers expect brands to know them individually, deliver personalized interactions and self-service options any time, any place.

Next up: the Watson advisor for agents

Banking clients at DBS in Asia will soon be interacting with financial planners that are advised by Watson. The Singapore-based bank is using Watson for Wealth Management to help financial planners guide its wealth management unit’s affluent customers. Watson will analyze large volumes of financial data to help DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest lender, offer more customized service.

In its drive to be the Asian bank of choice, DBS believes that building lasting relationships with its customers is an integral part of banking the Asian way. Applying IBM Watson’s capabilities will enable DBS professionals to take control of a ‘data deluge’ and arm them with data-driven insights that can personalize the client experience, according to DBS CEO Piyush Gupta.

Watson will put forth its suggestions after “ingesting” thousands of research reports, product information and customer profiles – far more than any human wealth management expert can handle, according to DBS.

 Where to get the advisor….

Sound intriguing? Ask the carriers you work with if they will be providing Agent Advisor capabilities. The possibilities appear to be wide open.


Editor’s Note: Anwar Haneef is a lead partner is Watson’s Financial Services practice.  He works with leading Financial Services organizations around the globe to help them create a competitive advantage through Cognitive Computing.  Anwar will be participating in a Watson Webinar on February 3, 2015.  Details at