AI is turning into big business for Switzerland. Major players such as IBM, Facebook and Google are choosing Switzerland for research bases, and startups are thriving. Is the innovation stream reaching service organizations in Switzerland?

First: process efficiency

When you mail a telecom provider to change your contract, your reply could be robot-written. Call the hotline, and a chatbot will pick up. As the wave of AI change reaches service sectors, organizations are increasingly mining the opportunities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to build greater efficiency into routine workflows.

Insurance is no exception. Instead of struggling with legacy admin and manual processes for every step in the policy management chain, insurers in Switzerland (and elsewhere) are squaring up to the challenge and using AI to enhance operations. Generali, for instance, uses image analytics to detect fraud and better understand the type and amount of damage. Artificial intelligence is also part of Generali’s smart breakdown response, with chatbots to ask questions and route details to tow trucks. AXA uses chatbots as a first response – and, as revealed in a discussion hosted by Insurance Nexus, has achieved a double-digit reduction in the number of calls that have to be processed by human staff.

Obviously, it makes sense to harvest the quick wins of automation first, and to use AI in combination with RPA (Robotic Process Automation). The next step will be to change the stages in the value chain. Insurers can move from “react & refund” operations to a more proactive role, for instance using vitality data from wearables and data on driving styles to prevent claims altogether.

Overall, Switzerland has some way to go. Despite the country’s undisputed role as an AI research hub, not much is visible on the front line: only 1% of organizations rank as “digital operations champions”. Change is obviously overdue. The advice is to start small – but start somewhere. As a first step, organizations should use one straightforward, ideally isolated process as an AI test sandbox. If that works, AI success can be scaled up.

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