SilverBridge launches AI division

In a move designed to enhance decision-making and provide its clients with an innovative way of embracing the latest technology innovations, SilverBridge, a provider of insurance software solutions for the African financial services industry, has launched its artificial intelligence (AI) division focusing on Merlynn’s Tacit Object Modeller (TOM).

“Given the amount of data available to insurers, it has become increasingly important to leverage it with meaningful insights and make more accurate predictions on everything from client risk to policy enhancements. Decision-making in the machine-learning space is largely a rules-based process and does not take intuition into account. TOM changes this,” says Johan Reyneke, Research and Development Executive at SilverBridge.

Essentially, TOM learns from human experts and not from data. It then applies the subject matter expertise based on the person’s experience to make decisions. This experience includes rules but also accounts for the ‘gut feeling’ or humanised decisions. From this, SilverBridge can introduce a virtual expert that aids customers with the decision-making process which can complement data analytics.

“SilverBridge does not want to replace the role of data analytics in AI but use the innovation enabled by TOM to complement it and give its customers the ability to make humanised decisions which is explainable. Unlike more traditional AI tools, TOM empowers an insurer to provide its customers feedback on why certain decisions were made around their policy. This can range from how premiums are determined to the outcome of a claim’s decision.”

TOM can be used to screen all short-term policies on renewal with the intention to reassess the risk associated to the policy or to identify the opportunities for cross or up-selling in real-time. Traditionally, insurers do not reassess all policies on their anniversary. Rather, a selected few flagged as risky. This is because the insurer cannot afford the human resources required to handle the sheer volume of policies to be assessed.

“So, not only do the risks need to be managed better, but also the opportunities that potentially exist must be capitalised on. TOM essentially virtualises the underwriter daily to enable the insurer to understand each of its policies better. In turn, this allows either upselling to take place or policy restructurings to be done more effectively.”

The SilverBridge AI division will therefore provide customers with more agile ways to enhance AI and machine learning in their organisations and capitalise on trends to make decisions faster.

“This intuition-based approach has the potential to fundamentally change not only insurance, but any industry that has been desperate to take AI to the next level,” Johan concludes.

About SilverBridge
SilverBridge has over 23 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 14 African countries. SilverBridge’s digital insurance suite allows financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology capabilities to help its clients do better business.

Dealing with the big data explosion in the insurance industry

Even though insurance has been one of the industries most reliant on data since its advent, big data is busy reinventing how this is analysed and used to create competitive advantage in a digital world. Jaco Swanepoel, CEO of SilverBridge Holdings, looks at how things have evolved in recent years.

Traditionally, insurers use actuarial models to calculate premiums for products and liabilities in respect of policies and profits. These models use assumptions for the expected experience of claims and cancelations of contracts. Insurance companies will regularly use their actual data to test the validity of these assumptions.

For example, they would compare expected death claims for a past period with the actual claims for the same period. In turn, this is analysed to adjust assumptions for future calculations. Fundamentally, this is a risk management approach. The data using this methodology is used to ensure that insurers price their products and asses their liabilities correctly.  Of course, the idea of using large amounts of data is not foreign to insurance companies.

“The arrival of big data has expanded the scope of storage, manipulation, and the analysis capacity beyond the scale of the traditional approaches required by insurance companies. It allows for the collection of large and varied data sets that can be analysed in ways was previously not possible,” says Swanepoel.

Data integration

However, the complex analysis of large datasets can help insurers discover information that was previously invisible. In turn, this can be used to improve customer experience and reduce inefficiencies.

Examples of this includes:

  • Hidden patterns – high claims ratios in certain geographical areas;
  • Unknown correlations – link between exercise and back pain;
  • Market trends – changing product attractiveness in different market segments; and
  • Customer preferences – younger people preferring a certain product.

“This kind of information can help insurance companies make informed decisions in all areas of the business including sales and customer service. After all, an insurer is in the business of helping customers with financial assistance if certain risks materialise. These risks are normally directly influenced by the behaviour of the customer, for example back pain as a result of sitting too much. By using big data combined with the Internet of Things (IoT), insurance companies can now help customers to adjust their behaviour and reward them with better pricing.”

Challenging times

Because insurers already have big datasets and the skills to analyse these, it should be a logical next step for them to extract value out of the data at their disposal today.

“However, the most likely challenges they will have to overcome will be cognitive biases such as the Ikea effect that comes down to the insurer thinking its traditional analysis tools are better or already provide it with the information required. Furthermore, information bias can also be a problem. Given the amount of information at their disposal, it is easy to go into paralyses and not make any changes.”

Fortunately, there is an extensive uptake of big data for practical solutions especially around short-term insurance and medical aids.

“These providers use IoT devices and the collected data to monitor customer behaviour and reward them in some way. The most common examples are movement sensors in vehicles and fitness trackers. But eventually big data will enable insurers to deliver personalised premiums to customers based on the information and analysis generated.”

About SilverBridge

SilverBridge has over 23 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 14 African countries. SilverBridge’s digital insurance suite allows financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology capabilities to help its clients do better business.

Microsoft and SilverBridge partner to bring insurance solution Exergy to market

With more than two decades’ experience in the insurance market, SilverBridge has continually evolved to deliver on market requirements. With the significant investment by global cloud providers in the country, the organisation is well positioned to continue doing so.

“The company has always built specialised solutions for insurers and delivered a unique set of services to its customers. Historically, this has seen our policy administration solution, Exergy being deployed on-premise using customer infrastructure,” says Lee Kuyper, COO at SilverBridge.

However, with the cloud becoming a strategic priority for many organisations, the groundwork the organisation has done with its partnership with Microsoft over the years is positioning it strongly for the next phase of its journey.

“This has seen SilverBridge working closely with Microsoft to re-architect our solutions for the cloud. Three years ago, SilverBridge moved its first customer to the Microsoft Azure cloud. The timing was opportune as this was the same time that Microsoft was changing their business model to a cloud consumption business. Since then, Microsoft has invested heavily a local data centre, which together with their focus on security and compliance, has allayed any concerns financial services providers may have when migrating to a cloud environment. With Microsoft as a secure and available platform, SilverBridge is highlighting the ability of the cloud to provide insurers with a more cost-effective, secure, and powerful alternative to traditional hosted solutions.”

Subsequently, as a Microsoft Managed Partner, SilverBridge has continued to work closely with the organisation and has resulted in Exergy becoming a Microsoft Prioritised Co-Sell Ready solution for the Middle East and Africa region. This means that Microsoft will incentivise its own sales teams to sell the Exergy solution.

“We are excited with these partnership developments, with Microsoft backing SilverBridge as a leading solutions provider in the insurance industry. This puts us in a great position to assist our clients in getting value from the cloud in their businesses. SilverBridge is in a position to continue, with Microsoft, to bring solutions to the insurance industry which not only benefit from SilverBridge’s industry specific experience and expertise, but also Microsoft’s leading technology,” concludes Kuyper.

About SilverBridge

SilverBridge has over 23 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 14 African countries. SilverBridge’s digital insurance suite allows financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology capabilities to help its clients do better business.

Exergy: A digital insurance solution for the cloud

With global cloud providers investing into data-centres in South Africa, financial service providers are re-examining how best to approach their transition to this environment. For its part, SilverBridge is repositioning its Exergy insurance solution as a digital suite of products that can either be consumed on a modular basis or as part of an integrated whole.

“Looking at the future of the local market, cloud-based solutions are becoming a strategic priority. By leveraging our well-established partnership with Microsoft, we have shifted our approach to this environment and are expanding our solutions with new components. This is done by either building ourselves, using functionality available on the Microsoft platform, or working with our partners,” says Lee Kuyper, COO at SilverBridge.

Traditionally, financial services customers have been hesitant to go the cloud route due to concerns around the security of sensitive financial data and regulatory issues pertaining to data sovereignty. With the arrival of the Microsoft datacentres in the country, these concerns have been largely addressed and started to ease. This is resulting in increased comfort levels in exploring the value that cloud solutions have to offer.

“We’ve been having cloud discussion with clients for a while. Some have moved prior to the arrival of the data-centres whilst others have been more cautious. But the past two years have seen a massive shift in attitude from insurers with everyone now considering how to gain benefit in some way,” says Kuyper.

This changing focus is also reflected in how SilverBridge has approached the evolution of Exergy.

“The real value and power of the Microsoft Azure cloud is not just moving workloads to the cloud but leveraging what the platform has to offer. SilverBridge has moved the Exergy development environment into the cloud as it provides us with more innovative ways of creating and enhancing our software. For clients, this also means that instead of upgrading annually, we are moving to a place where the value created by our development teams is rolled out regularly and in smaller increments,” concludes, Kuyper.

Ultimately, the cloud is ushering in exciting opportunities to innovate using more sophisticated tools and platforms.

About SilverBridge

SilverBridge has over 23 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 14 African countries. SilverBridge’s digital insurance suite allows financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology capabilities to help its clients do better business.