Betting on AI or IA?

Let’s start with some definitions:

The AI (Artificial Intelligence) camp believes the future of computing is autonomous systems such as robots that can be taught to imitate/replace human cognitive functions

The IA (Intelligence Augmentation) camp believes that information technology can supplement and support human thinking, analysis, and planning, but leave the human at the centre of the interaction

There is more hype around AI, but we see a much bigger opportunity for life insurers in IA. In this post we will explain why.

IA – making staff smarter – improving customer conversations

IA can help customer-facing staff have better, more relevant and effective conversations with customers throughout the day. There are dozens of areas where IA insights delivered to staff in the right way and at the right time are very valuable. Some simple examples:

  • How do we help staff identify which customers we should be reaching out to now and with what conversation?
  • What information do we know about a customer that can help us already filter what their needs might be?
  • How do we help staff guide a customer through a conversation in a way that is fluid and relevant to the customer, but also meets our compliance and conduct requirements at the same time?

Why is IA more relevant than AI for life insurers?

  1. The products are mostly sold not bought and therefore human interactions and emotions are extremely important. To work, fully automated systems such as robotics tend to require a ‘pull’ from customers, or a form of compulsion (such as with motor insurance).  But to trigger the medium to longer-term thinking required to act on material savings decisions or life cover you need interactions with a person supported by IA, not a robot supported by AI.  There is a clear role for robo-advice to replace costly compliance parts of the process, but it is unlike to become very good at convincing customers to do something they would not have done otherwise.
  2. Insurance staff have a massive experience advantage over machines today. The ageing workforce at life insurers is well known, but this also an asset in the short term for IA. Many of the staff interacting with customers have a high level of experience and professionalism and a good gut feel for what works in different circumstances. There is a lot of value in using IA to both learn from what works for different staff, and in providing insight and prompts to help these staff have a more productive day and better conversations with customers.

Staff train the machines

Given the experience and well honed nature of many staff in insurance organisations that are speaking to customers, how do we capture their experience, recommendations, ways of working to feedback into our IA?  This is invaluable, because insurers don’t hold that much structured information about customers that helps train IA.

To make the recommended actions and tools that IA provides more relevant for staff, we need to feedback their usage, their experience and their suggestions into the IA so that we can learn from it quickly, do more of what works, and remove or adjust what doesn’t work.  This way we build analytics in the form of IA which is not only based on what insights the ‘data’ shows, but also piggybacks on the experience and knowledge of the team, feeding back to them more relevant suggested actions that help them have a better and more productive day for the benefit of customers, staff and shareholders.


At inforcehub, we have made a bet on IA being more valuable in the near-term than AI for life insurers and our CAFE platform brings these capabilities to customer-facing staff. If you would like to find out more please get in contact.