Producer Management in the Era of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Producers or Agents have been a part of the insurance distribution landscape for over 100 years. The role of the agent as a sales representative, customer service representative, in client management, as a business advisor to the carrier, and many other roles make the agent the king-pin, if you will, of getting insurance products into the hands of the customer. But a glitzy new technology is on the horizon to maybe eliminate the agent, or at least diminish the producers’ role in working with clients, as well as the carrier.
This new technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The curmudgeon in me is full of snark as I contemplate the idea that a machine can supplant everything that involves producer management in an algorithm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Luddite when it comes to technology advancing in the workplace. After all, I am in high tech and I have lived the advances in insurance technology for nearly 40 years. Most new technologies come to market with a lot of hype and hope and not much else. AI is just the latest iteration of tech hype that gets hearts aflutter as the hype descends into Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment. That trough is littered with the hopes and dreams of many revolutionary technologies that were going to transform the world of insurance.
If you were to peel the AI onion, you would find that rather than AI being something beyond belief it is just the logical growth of two technologies that have been around for quite some time: Business Process Management (BPM) and Meta Data. I remember when BPM first came around and the big use case was in claims. Oh, the trade publications were full of articles about how BPM was going to eliminate claims adjusters. Talk about resistance to change, the claims world was up in arms at the techies that could even think that a software technology could properly adjudicate a claim. Of course, the hype about “paying the claim” wasn’t the point of BPM. The point was to automate a few steps in the claims process that would make it faster and easier for an adjuster to work a claim.
Meta Data got a lot of attention when the non-tech public found out that there was a lot of personal information that was collected by business and government that was derived from electronic documents such as e-mail. Meta data was a lot of bits and bytes of seemingly useless data but it could be reformed into useful data that could be captured and retained by systems. Put meta data together with BPM on steroids and you get AI. And with AI you get more useable data and information that can actually “learn” from existing processes and data types, and establish a process to use that information.
Think of auto-complete as a form of AI. Now think of all of the aspects of producer management – and there are many – do you think that AI is going to eliminate producers or producer management?