With the wave of robotics and artificial intelligence anticipated to wash over the workplace, keeping pace with it all could require the attention of a dedicated, high-level individual. Given the breadth of the expected changes, some people are touting the idea of having a chief automation officer to oversee the burgeoning area of artificial intelligence.

The role of a chief automation officer could include responsibility for areas such as understanding and applying new automation processes as they become available; leveraging automation to streamline information technology processes; and examining the opportunities as part of an overall automation strategy.Automataion

A growing need

Given the rapid changes expected in the coming years, Gabby Nizri, chief executive officer of Tel Avivbased information technology process automation provider Ayehu Software Technologies Ltd., foresees automation filling such an important role that he envisions it occupying a position at the executive level.

“As automation becomes an integral part of the organization’s infrastructure management process, it is highly likely that the role of the CAO will become more commonplace, eventually ranking up there with the rise of other C-level titles, like that of chief digital officer,” says Nizri.

Read: Sounding Board: Benefits industry should prepare for chatbots

Artificial intelligence, of course, has the potential to affect a range of industries, including the benefits sector itself. In the last few years, Jean-Philippe Provost, leader of Mercer’s retirement practice in Canada, has noticed automation occupying a larger role when it comes to leveraging all of the new information that’s becoming available in the age of big data. As a result, he can see the possibilities for a chief automation officer in the insurance and benefits sector.

“What’s really powerful about a position like this one is it’s really understanding what are the tools available to enable them to process that information in a way to determine what version of a medical plan would make more sense for an employee, whether or not they should elect for dental coverage,” he says, noting the result would be a more logical decision-making process instead of a purely emotional one.

Widespread applications

Among the companies already pushing the automation envelope in the insurance industry is Symbility Solutions Inc. It recently obtained a patent for automatic fraud detection software in its mobile health claims application. According to Symbility’s Paul Crowe, the software reviews the claims for any indications of fraud, such as alterations.

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The idea is to automate both the back and front ends so the process is smooth for users as well. “That’s what’s important in looking at automation. If you can automate both sides — the customer experience as well as the business experience — through technology, that’s where the sweet spot exists,” says Crowe.

“The automation process that I think is really happening and is going to be happening in health benefits and the larger insurance world . . . is going to increase at a more rapid pace in the next handful of years.”

Marg. Bruineman is a freelance writer based in Barrie, Ont.

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Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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