- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

InsurTech, AI, and the Future of Work: On Offer in 2017

The beginning of a new year is fertile ground for making projections. However, having been hoisted by this particular petard previously, I am retreating to safer ground, and simply noting two trends. I won’t predict where these will take us, but leave it to discuss as the year reveals its true colours.

Chaos takes form with InsurTech

This past year has seen an explosion of InsurTech applications. Driven by digital success in other industry sectors and the widespread utilization of mobile devices, insurers and brokers have started to investigate and undertake opportunities to sell and service with new digital tools.

And application developers took note, creating a large portfolio of products; some enterprise level, other ad-hoc apps.

The net result is a large, diverse set of technologies and applications. Few organizations have the resources to assess the value of these tools for their own use.

However, there are a growing number of organizations which are dedicated to supporting the developers and users. Some of these are Accelerators and Incubators. Others are management consultants and suppliers.

The 2017 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference has the privilege of hosting a number of sessions featuring these organizations and their experts, including our keynote:

Creating a Culture of Innovation in a Disruptive World,
Craig Haney, Head of Corporate Innovation, Communitech

A.I. and The Shape of Work to Come

For many years, IT executives – present company included – have said that technology does not eliminate jobs, it improves them.

The last few years have seen developments – e.g., Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications – that belie that aphorism.

Quoted in Fortune, Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at market research firm Outsell said: “The pace of technology advancements plus the big data phenomenon lead to a whole new level of machines to perform higher level cognitive tasks.”

This could displace a number of white collar workers generally, and in the insurance industry specifically. And create serious economic dislocation.

Or it might not. There are defensive and offensive factors.

On the defensive side, a number of countries (Canada being one) are looking at methods, including a Universal Basic Income, to provide some economic support.

On the offensive side, we are a pretty resilient species. Consultant and author Thomas Brown, writing in Raconteur, supports this view:

All today’s assumptions about the impact of technology on the workforce of today are rooted in the jobs of today. We don’t yet know what new jobs and opportunities will emerge as technology creates labour market capacity and the prospect of further unlocking human potential….

Brown cites a study of AI being implemented at a law firm to reduce time and cost in analyzing due diligence requirements. Lawyers were recruited to ‘train’ the AI technology, and the result was a 50% reduction in time to complete the analysis.

More interesting, however, was the response from the humans:

In a live control study, the firm found that, rather than being unsettled by the effectiveness of AI in the due diligence process, lawyers were instead enthusiastic about how the technology freed them to work on delivering value for their client, but also gave them greater control and visibility of the overall document analysis process.

To provide context, ICTC2017 and its broker counterpart ICBF2017 will have a number of sessions discussing AI, Machine Learning, and supporting technologies such as Big Data and Analytics.

So what does this all mean?

We are in a very interesting time. Rather than pontificate, I’d rather get into a conversation. One thing I know, we will be living in interesting times.

Hope to see you at ICTC2017 and ICBF2017