Google’s director for business risk and insurance addressed an educational session at RIMS 2018 in San Antonio

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Google’s parent company Alphabet is making use of chat bots to lighten the workload of its risk management team.

Bots can take up the more mundane or humdrum tasks, freeing up the human team members for the more pressing priorities.

Loren Nickel, Google’s director for business risk and insurance, addressed an educational session on the new risk landscape at the RIMS 2018 conference in San Antonio, Texas today.

The beauty of AI

“For routine tasks, things like certification and low-level claims, we have chat bots to do that,” Nickel told an audience of risk professionals at the US event.

“It helps with scale; it helps for efficiency; and it leads to people getting quick responses,” he added.

Nickel suggested the artificial intelligence (AI) helpers could be used for myriad risk management and operational tasks.

“They can be used for anything, that’s the beauty of AI,” said Nickel.

The bots are “semi-custom”, he noted, developed in part by Google along with some insurance technology partners.

Done right, he said people prefer dealing with an AI bot that means they get a quick answer to an internal request for information, for example.

“As your company evolves you can do more with AI. For matters of scale and headcount, it helps us do things more efficiently,” he added.

The session was entitled: “technology, innovation and disruption are putting new demands on the risk profession”.

Asked “what does modern risking look like?”, Nickel said Google’s approach is to devote staff to product teams – helped by bots working on quieter or more mundane tasks – and prioritising risk resources to the biggest or newest products, and those that face periods of change to their business.

“It’s so much easier to have conversations around risk when it’s about strategy,” said Nickel. “We’re focused on risks associated with new products.”

Insurance is less of a topic of conversation, he suggested, but it “goes from there”.

“You connect the dots. The risk manager gets to see everything. The role means there is lots of opportunities to bring teams together and to collaborate in different ways,” continued Nickel.

In a straw poll asking audience members to raise their hands if any were using AI bots in a similar way to Google, not one hand was raised in the room containing perhaps two hundred mostly US-based risk professionals.

For more on AI, its risks and its opportunities, check out this feature.

Reputational risk

Sharing the stage with Nickel was Randy Nornes, an executive vice president at insurance broker Aon.

He warned that the “changing risk landscape” has grown more challenging – led by disruptive and emerging technological risks.

“At the same time as the world is changing, we’ve shifted resources away from risk management,” warned Nornes.

He pointed to the reputational fallout from social media and crisis management.

“Social media now really doubles the impact of what used to be a normal risk. There’s no time to react,” he said.

Firms should consider corporate social responsibility as a proactive way to boost their brand, he suggested.

“It creates a useful buffer for reputational risk [via social media],” added Nornes.

For more on social media crises and how to manage them, check out this feature and stay on the lookout for future content from StrategicRISK.