Taking inspiration from ground-breaking technologies like IoT and big data, artificial intelligence (AI) is profoundly shifting the insurance industry, and investments are at a peak for insurtech companies around the globe. In a recent report by Willis Towers Watson, since 2016, 36% more investment (or the equivalent of $2.3bn) was invested across 450 start-ups during the course of last year alone. AI solutions in the insurance sector are becoming increasingly popular – and as a start-up or developer, it is one of the most dynamic and promising business areas to be active in right now.

Insurers are dealing with snowballing amounts of highly variable documents, including forms, emails and invoices, claims and policy comparisons that are all processed manually. With predictions for 2018 showing that insurance data will grow by 94%, 84% of which will be in unstructured documentation, new technology from insurtech start-ups is digitally transforming the process of the management and administration of large amounts of documentation. For example, technology brought to market by omni:us allows insurers to extract, review and analyse data from arbitrary documents featuring structured and unstructured data to a much higher and accurate level.

For insurers, there continues to be a prerequisite for people power for analysis and decision-making. A number of insurers are seeing massive benefits from working with AI to reduce considerably the time and cost spent on administrative tasks and diminishing the countable risk of human error. Our solutions can read vast variations in document formats (emails, incident reports, invoices, etc.) even down to low-quality scanned documents, faxes and handwritten forms.

Although, in terms of cost and time, AI solutions tend to be dogged with the stigma that they are a high-ticket investment, customarily implemented for business IT projects. New AI solutions can be deployed with minimum disruption and within a matter of weeks, particularly for claims management and policy extraction. As we continue to help innovate businesses, the seamless integration into existing systems helps increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

Training technology to become smarter

Game-changing AI technology in the market is ‘trained’ using millions of pages and constantly develops its intelligence through an ongoing feedback loop, making it a fully scalable solution. Like the solutions we offer at omni:us, digitizing and automating these tasks improves allocation of staff resources, giving companies the chance to create new added-value roles in areas not previously considered and ultimately saving money.

As the competition in AI innovation continues to grow fiercer, it all boils down to the technology. We are seeing a steady stream of successful AI companies beginning to make their mark on the European market. For us at omni:us, we’re continuing to have a number of open conversations with insurers about how AI solutions can alter processes, portfolios and workforces. We have also closed promising deals with several key players in the insurance and banking sectors over the last year, and finance is another industry that is ripe for change and disruption with this technology.

Consumer needs have also dramatically changed in recent times. To better connect with their customers and discover the products and services that are required, financial services firms are having to design and develop fresh new strategies. In times to come, there is no doubt that AI will empower more workforces, providing banks with next-level insights into consumer trends, and allowing them to react and deliver appropriately with precise intelligence.

So, what should we expect when considering the future of AI? Inherently, there is a continuing trend of investment in services from a number of global players. Countries such as China are investing in a governmental capacity and we are also seeing overwhelming demand from corporates, e.g. Google and Facebook. Europe on the whole, including Germany, is financially a little behind overall global development; however, the market is a hotbed of development and it will not be long before we see European and German initiatives beginning to shift focus more. Looking at the wider picture across Europe, funding, people, infrastructure and ecosystems are key factors that all play vital roles, too. The region is a breeding ground for some incredible talent and it is vital to highlight these critical resources in numerous leading research and educational institutions for future generations.

Lots of legacy businesses are starting to make initial investments into technology that close the gap in machine-to-machine information transfer and revolutionise business processes; more are opening up to the idea of co-operating with start-ups. We are seeing a gain in momentum and are continuing to go from strength to strength to offer even more cutting-edge solutions and technology to deploy AI to enterprises.

The AI revolution begins

We are entering an age where insurance and innovation go hand-in-hand; one size certainly will not fit all with AI and that will be the case for the foreseeable future. Although there is, of course, a question mark over the concept that jobs and humans could be succeeded by machines, and the digital revolution might not create enough new vacancies to compensate for the diminished ones.

Transformation provides opportunity, including the creation of undiscovered roles in various sectors and redeploying people to higher value work. New innovations also expose the potential to improve people’s quality of work/life balance, reducing the number of hours spent at our desks and making working hours much more flexible. Concepts such as working remotely or working on a freelance basis are constantly increasing and are also preferred by many of us. Retail, marketing and education are also sectors that are ripe for change with new AI technology, some of which is being developed faster than it can be implemented.

This is also not the first time there have been doubts about technology replacing human efforts. There has always been both enthusiasm and apprehension around any digital or industrial revolution, and these feelings are the driving force for human interaction. This is what evolution is founded on and, in the rapidly changing world around us, AI will only continue to help develop this instinctive ambition of growth, both for humanity and for the individual.

Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss is an experienced managing director with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Her strategic skills coupled with a passion for AI led her to create omni:us with the goal of redefining the way people work and how companies are handling their business operations. omni:us is as an MI-based, SaaS solution to massively optimise workflows, and empower businesses to make comprehensive data-driven decisions. Prior to omni:us, Sofie founded Qidenus Technologies, which quickly became the leader in the market of robotics and digitization. Sofie is also the patent owner of the Vshape scanner technology and winner of several awards including the Woman Technology & Research Award.