Joseph Milicia, senior director at Willis Towers Watson, discusses how insurance companies can navigate through uncertainty using automation across business tasks
Why is data so important right now and how are you helping insurers?
Insurers have ambitions of being both digitally-enabled and data-driven. In order to achieve those objectives, insurers need to be able to fully leverage their data assets for strategic decision making.
Willis Towers Watson's Unify integrates disparate systems and automates the data flows between the tools and systems used within business processes. DataValidator, the Willis Towers Watson software included with Unify, validates and reconciles data to ensure data quality, while Unify provides the orchestrated automation and governance that enables insurers to do more, faster and for less.
Navigating business in times of great uncertainty, as is the case with the Covid-19 pandemic, requires easy access to accurate and current information, so that insurers can recognise emerging trends as soon as possible and take timely action to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. With Unify and DataValidator, clients can automate the extraction and transformation of data, cleanse and reconcile that information and publish it to data visualisation services, enabling real-time management dashboards that inform and accelerate strategic decision-making.
Beyond management information dashboards, our clients are using Unify to automate their predictable business tasks and processes, freeing up resources to focus on newly emerging trends. This means that people can be reallocated to focus on the areas where they can add the most value and that the parts of the business least affected by Covid-19 can rely more on automation.
What innovations are you working on to help clients with their ERM?
While Unify and DataValidator are key components of best-in-class financial modelling, financial reporting and reserving processes at insurers today, there are significant opportunities to transform the insurance industry and disrupt the status quo of existing business processes in other areas such as capital modelling, proxy modelling, bordereaux management, pricing, underwriting, predictive analytics and ceded reinsurance.
We are continuing to develop our products to make them easier to use, while simultaneously seeding ideas about improving industry best practices. We believe this combination of technology and domain expertise uniquely qualifies us to partner with our clients on their business process transformation projects.
How has Covid-19 shifted thinking in the insurance business?
In the immediate term, we're helping our current client base get as much value from our technology as possible. As well as our automation software assisting with our clients' more standardised processes, we are also helping them to deploy automation for some more tactical short-term use cases, ensuring their businesses stay agile through the current crisis. For example, making use of automation to perform daily solvency monitoring, helping to alleviate time and effort spent doing "run of the mill" administration tasks and also providing key management information as necessary, such that our clients can make timely and well-informed business decisions.
Further, we also see automation as a potential solution to alleviate some of the challenges of working remotely. For example, robots can access 24/7 computing power. This means they aren't subject to virtual private network bandwidth restrictions and are able to work around the clock to augment our human workforce, which may be unwell themselves, taking care of relatives or children or otherwise unavailable. Similarly, automated processes built in Unify ensure that the workforce continues to abide by governance procedures and isn't tempted to work around slow network connectivity by using personal email or other unsanctioned file sharing or collaboration technologies.
In the medium to long-term, we expect to see resiliency take greater importance on insurers' list of priorities for investment. Covid-19 has led to unprecedented changes in how we work and collaborate internally and externally; upon our recovery, it will be time to invest to become better prepared for future disruptions to our industry. We are seeing first-hand in our outsourcing business, which heavily uses Unify to drive cost efficiency for our clients, how automated processes have held up well to the disruptions caused by Covid-19. While the insurance industry has progressively adopted automation over the past few years, the pace at which new technologies will be embraced and insurers become more digitally-enabled is likely to accelerate. This will spark an era of transformation and modernisation, to help improve the efficiency and resiliency of our clients' businesses.
What future services are you considering implementing to help insurers in their end-to-end risk management?
We continue to work closely with our clients on their strategic initiatives and recognise the importance of the industry's migration to cloud services. Providing our clients with the right tools deployed in a framework that supports their IT and business needs will be critical to the long-term supportability and value-add of our products. A variety of deployment options, as well as a growing repository of best-practice business process assets, will give our clients the flexibility and expertise required to transform their businesses and empower their employees.