The data is out there. The challenge is how to amass it, standardize it and make it useful.
Taylor Rhodes, CEO of Applied Systems, stopped by the On Point podcast with host Peter Aartrijk to talk about the future of data and artificial intelligence and what it will take to put it to work simply and effectively.
Founded in 1983, Applied Systems has been around to see the evolution of modern tech from its earliest days.
“But we also know that what worked in the past doesn’t always work in the future,” Rhodes said. “We’ve been on this journey of self-reflection and really challenging what we think our greatest opportunity to add value to the industry is, and this bumpy, opaque, expensive ride.”
Today, the company is tackling the industry’s tech issues with a simpler, streamlined approach.
“I came into the industry about four and a half years ago when I joined Applied, and since then, our thinking has evolved to a simple model that we use, and we just call it the digital round trip of insurance,” Rhodes said. “And what we think about is what work has to happen not only inside the four walls of the agency but also expanding that out to be digitally connected to your clients and prospects. And then, on the other side, digitally connected to your insurance carriers.”
It’s all about creating intelligent workflows that work across contexts.
“Intelligence means that we can use data and analytics to put information, and potentially recommendations, right in the workflow where an agent ACSR – a producer is actually working,” Thodes said. “That might be in a sales and marketing context; that might be in an operational context.
“So having that intelligence show up where you’re working to help you make better decisions and give you more context, and then connected simply means that we don’t want you to have to swivel chair from one system to another and send an email into carrier Hell where you never know when it’s going to come back out.”
This streamlined approach could particularly benefit those who work with small businesses. Often, the process of writing a piece of small commercial is a lot of effort for little money, Rhodes said.
“But if we can automate that digital round trip and help you keep much more of those commercial dollars, that small commercial space is one of the largest growth spaces in the U.S.,” he said.
The explosion of applications and new business models that use cloud and artificial intelligence have shown the technologies’ potential. Still, getting to a point where they are practical and useful will take time and development, Rhodes said.
“And if you think about insurance, insurance is one of the best playgrounds for AI because it is a data-rich environment,” he said.
AI will be able to quickly triangulate the masses of data so agents and producers can focus on the results of that number crunching and do what they do best.
“It’s going to change the way people work,” he added. “It’s going to raise the bar on the value that they add, but it’s also going to equip them to do that. And I think that’s a really important thing to remember about AI if you’re not becoming fluent in how to use it.”
So, while AI will be a great tool, agents and producers will have to learn how to use it to best benefit their clients, he said. “And it’s our job to lead our clients safely into the future of AI and make our products more valuable for them.”
As someone recently told Rhodes, “AI may not replace you, but somebody who’s using AI intelligently will replace you.”
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