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Insurers urged to harness power of AI now

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Australian insurers must act now to seize the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence (AI), which is likely to transform the business world as profoundly as any past innovation, Accenture says.

The consultant says insurers that invest in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top-performing businesses could lift revenue by an average of 17% and employment by 7% by 2022.

“The future insurance workforce globally, and in Australia, will undoubtedly be a blend of humans and machines,” Insurance Lead Australia and New Zealand Ravi Malhotra told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

Insurers should be planning and developing their future workforces, including redesigning roles, bringing in new talent and pivoting employees to work with AI, he says.

An Accenture survey finds 75% of insurers will use AI to automate tasks to a “large or very large extent” in the next three years and almost all intend to use it to enhance worker capabilities.

Executives believe only 25% of their staff are ready to work with intelligent technologies, while employees are optimistic it will make their jobs simpler and could improve work-life balance.

About two-thirds of staff believe AI will create opportunities for their work and 75% say it is important or very important to develop their AI skills.

Mr Malhotra says some basic AI applications are widespread globally, but more sophisticated uses are largely in the experimentation phase.

“The same is true in Australia, with pockets of AI-driven innovation,” he said.

“However, our perspective is that the rate of adoption and the power of the applications currently in experimentation stages will grow at an exponential rate.”

Mr Malhotra says challenges in adopting AI include a growing skills gap and competition for talent, while high-quality data is required, along with strong executive-level support for the technology.

“AI is a rapidly evolving space and will require deep technical [and] business capabilities to effectively apply it. To achieve its full potential, it will also require perspectives that transcend our industry conventions. New talent and new partners are essential ingredients.”