Stefano De Liguoro talks about what he does as Head of Digital Business at Zurich Spain. His innovation department works for the whole of Europe in introducing and standardising the digital environment in insurance. His groundbreaking vision has a major impact on a very traditional market as it opens up future opportunities and challenges for the classic business model to tailor it to the lifestyle of users in the digital age.
With this vision of the future and their digital talent they have created AZUL, an artificial intelligence project which he tells us about below.
AZUL is a virtual assistant which calculates the price of a personalised life insurance policy in a different way: by scanning the user's face and asking them some simple lifestyle questions. What is the distinctive value of your "virtual insurer" in the insurance industry?
AZUL’s artificial intelligence tools have succeeded in making a traditional value proposition much more attractive
AZUL fundamentally changes the way we relate to customers. It allows us to evolve from the boring conventional form (with 20 or 30 questions to be answered by the customer!) towards friendlier, more approachable and attractive interaction. Basically, it opens up the insurance industry to an audience which was previously reluctant to take out life insurance because of these negative connotations: wasting time, the customer feels like an “object”, etc.
So AZUL has helped you to change the perception customers have.
And also our way of thinking about the products we offer them. Our main goal with AZUL, apart from presenting the customer with an immersive, enjoyable contract experience, is to attract, convince and build loyalty among potential users who were not initially interested in taking out a life insurance policy for the usual reasons I mentioned earlier. With this interface, the customer feels that their health is the main driver of the service and appreciates the security and real usefulness of the service we suggest.
How have artificial intelligence experts helped you to run the project?
Artificial intelligence operates as a mind which can learn in real time, self-correct and enhance the solutions it brings to the problem
Simply put, AZUL would not be in place had we not harnessed the potential of artificial intelligence and the talent of its specialists. Other tools, such as UX/UI or Augmented Reality, have also been instrumental in creating and implementing it.
The artificial intelligence which AZUL draws from constantly learns from customers’ answers and gives them back a customised set of topics to deal with which dovetails with the flow of the conversation and even tells jokes! It can detect the user’s age by means of facial recognition, whether the user is a smoker or not, and finally it has a method (patented by us) which measures body mass index by analysing 4,000 points on the face.
Because AZUL infers this information in its database and compares the data all at once, it is able to evolve and resolve the problems it encounters. As a matter of fact, the ratio of users who started the simulator has been going up as the interface has been getting better and better with every query.
What is the biggest challenge this project has posed for you?
Bringing in revolutionary technologies is a key issue in leading the digital environment. However, ensuring the success of the technologies which really change the experience from the get-go and, as in our case, the historical perception of taking out insurance is the main challenge facing my department and the company in the future.
AZUL has laid the foundations for the digital transformation of the insurance industry with the help of artificial intelligence. How do you see the future of this digital area in your market?
That’s right; AZUL is a pioneer in how to revamp a scenario as static as is the case with insurance.
Artificial intelligence will reach beyond selling to become a key component in the services offered by insurers. This is for one simple reason: because users are not used to finding out all the useful information about their insurance or all the circumstances, and they want to avoid long and boring enquiries over the phone. A digital insurance policy which advises you in real time when handling a car accident, for example, or which guides you through the steps involved in amending your policy will gain your trust and set itself apart from the competition.
Finally, what would you say to someone who is thinking of specialising in artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence automates processes, yet its main benefit is that it improves them and directly adds to the user’s wellbeing. Plus in the future, which is already today, designing a different and unique experience will call for the expertise of artificial intelligence experts. The success or failure of any technological project will depend on their talent.