25 March 2022 - 11:00
Automation and artificial intelligence, what’s new with the latest generation of robots
Robotic Process Automation (RPA), also known as robotics, is a technology that allows software to interact with other software, imitating repetitive, rule-based human actions, or sequences of actions. Many companies have recognised the potential of this technology and started to adopt it years ago: this is also the case of Generali, which started its Smart Automation journey by taking its first steps in robotics
Generali has undergone a profound transformation in recent years, shifting from a product-based approach to an ecosystem of services, with the aim of accompanying customers throughout their lives. A transformation of this magnitude is also possible thanks to the evolution of new technologies, which in combination with artificial intelligence have made it possible to provide an improved customer experience, together with a profound optimisation of insurance processes.
Automatically and quickly assessing damage and calculating reimbursements, identifying possible fraud by simply analysing images of damaged vehicles, or requesting refunds by simply photographing invoices with a mobile phone are just a few examples of the rapid evolution that the insurance industry has experienced in recent years. An evolution that will be even more marked in the next decade and that sees Smart Automation, a combination of RPA technologies, advanced automation, and artificial intelligence (e.g., Intelligent OCR, NLP, process mining), as one of the main enablers.
Generali’s investments in the technology of the future
A precious opportunity for companies, especially those accustomed to looking ahead and embracing the digital transformation progress. Just like Generali, which during the Investor Day held on 15th December 2021 presented its new three-year plan ‘Lifetime Partner 24: Driving Growth’, in which innovation is one of the three strategic pillars. Here, Smart Automation is a key driver that will increase efficiency, optimise processes, and deliver €125 million of gross savings, while improving the customer experience thanks to employees and agents supported by cutting-edge technology.
A driver of innovation that, together with the investments planned under the new strategy and amounting to € 1.1 billion, shows Generali’s ongoing commitment that started with the previous strategic cycle, with the aim of continuing to exploit the potential of new and existing technologies to improve the quality of its services, with positive effects on customers and stakeholders.
A glimpse into Generali’s RPA Booklet
The subject is certainly not one of the most common, nor among the easiest to explain. For this reason, Generali has collected its main experiences and best practices to tell the story of how Robotic Process Automation, one of the first technologies adopted in the field of Smart Automation, has begun and is continuing. A clear and in-depth way to better understand the main features of this technology, analysing the best strategy to implement and enhance it, examining the results obtained so far on this front by the Company, with an overview of the expected benefits.
Just as the era of the new generation of robots is only just beginning and will be improved over time, so too does Generali's booklet photograph a journey that started a few years ago, promising to enthusiastically follow its next developments and updates with further sections - under development - on other Smart Automation technologies.
The insurance industry is increasingly driven by data, software, digital platforms, and cloud-based solutions. Innovative technologies allow for new automations, which can be used to their maximum advantage when combined together. Algorithms used to develop artificial intelligence support the automation of decision-making activities while RPA makes repetitive manual activities automatic, reducing costs and improving efficiency. Robotics is often combined with other technologies, for example enabling optical character recognition to automatically extract data from documents, speech to text or text to speech to automate vocal processes, or Chatbot development to automate conversations and manage dialogue with users.
In other words, robotics is extremely versatile and can be applied together with different technologies in a huge number of situations. They can be divided into two macro-areas: attended and unattended. Attended robots depend on automation activated by humans; the machine provides guidance and assistance and is directly controlled by the user. An example of a typical use of attended RPA robots is in call centres where they support operators by retrieving customer data in real time, reducing to a minimum customer waiting time. Unattended robots do not depend on humans for automation. The runtime is therefore automatic, and robots work 24 hours a day managed by a central process automation system. This category is mainly used by back-office operators who need to process huge volumes of data that require collection, sorting and analysis.
In short, there are many advantages for a company using RPA. Among the most important are quick return on investments thanks to the speed of automation and improved processes leading to increased productivity and quality due to stringent safety standards. The use of RPA also enhances the overall customer experience: the high repeatability and low fatigue levels involved when people are not employed to carry out repetitive and alienating work improves service quality and allows for fast turnaround times and a reduction in work cycle times.
A further benefit is being able to divert staff to more skilled jobs and allowing companies to save resources that can be employed in other fields, leaving robots to perform repetitive and non-value-added tasks commonly carried out by humans. Who, on the other hand, act as managers of the virtual workforce, monitoring the robots and managing changes to the automation process. The use of RPA also raises the quality of services provided by minimising manual intervention, errors, and duplications, which rapidly reduces elaboration times and increases capacity.
Considering this enormous potential, the use of a new generation of robots is becoming an essential choice for innovative businesses looking to improve their management and the quality of their services, and free up resources to grow their staff. The figures confirm this: according to Gartner’s latest forecast, the RPA market is set to grow at double-digit rates until 2024, reaching almost 860 billion dollars by 2025. By the end of 2023, 90 percent of large and very large companies will have implemented some kind of robotic process automation, compared to 55 percent in 2019. The US consultancy firm also observes that over a quarter of potentially automatable tasks will have been automated by an RPA tool by 2024, up from a mere 2 percent in 2016.