I recently presented at the Insurance Analytics event. Before my session was IBM Watson, exciting the audience with the virtues of artificial intelligence. Undoubtedly it was a thought provoking piece on the applications of cognitive computing. I wanted to marry pragmatism with reality for my presentation – some of the earlier presenters used pictures of robots at desks, personally for me this vision sets the wrong expectations. Don’t get me wrong we are most definitely witnessing first-hand the renaissances of AI or Cognitive Computing within the insurance industry.
However, the brave new world of AI needs to be embraced with baby steps. The sense I get from senior management within the insurance industry there is real scepticism. It’s ERP systems part 2, cumbersome, heavy and tortuously costly change programmes with very little tangible business value. I can empathise. The utopia of AI can be a reality but I take you back to those baby steps. Then there is a question of how does this fit into with predictive analytics, self-learning, big data, robotic process automation etc.
Just for a moment forget the technology and approach this as a business challenge. Conduct an internal feasibility by examining departments, which are ripe for cognitive computing – if those business skillsets for analysis are not available in house, engage a management consultancy or an interim specialist. Remember this is unchartered waters so qualify their understanding of the domain. Also, complement this approach by engaging multiple vendors to understand the art of the possible. You may find at the end of your analysis Cognitive Computing presents no opportunities for your organisation. If this is the case, you probably need to review who conducted your analysis! The opportunities and business value for this sector are vast and as one boss used to tell me, even a blind squirrel will find acorns in autumn.
In the industry, we use a simplistic analogy to help ground the reality of these systems – when you hire a fresh graduate, you have to train, educate and equip that individual to do the role and then monitor their performance, a very similar process applies to these systems.
Think big and bold but start small to secure business buy in for the journey ahead.