A digital assistant platform developed by Deakin University to support its students has secured its first commercial role at Allianz Australia.\nThe personal and corporate insurance provider is piloting the technology on a cohort of compensation claimants working for Allianz Australia clients; Sydney Water, the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, TAFE NSW and a fourth unnamed NSW government agency.\n \nAccessed via an iOS and Android compatible smartphone app, Claims Companion by Genie helps injured workers navigate their compensation claim \u2013 when they should expect letters, how to accept treatment, recovery tools and other resources.\n \nAt present the Genie virtual assistant chiefly serves in an \u201cafter claim care\u201d role, but in future phases will allow users to interact more with their individual claim, for example being able to ask, \u2018When is my next medical appointment?\u2019 or \u2018Has this treatment been approved?\u2019.\n \n\u201cWe are always looking at ways to better support workers in their recovery journey. Genie\u2019s an easily accessible tool that puts workers in control of their recovery whilst also providing them with the right level of support, care and motivation as they navigate what can be a complicated claims process,\u201d Allianz Australia general manager, government services Mark Pittman told CIO Australia.\n \nMark Pittman\nGenie was developed by the Deakin IT Groupand rolled out to students and academics early last year. In the university setting it features a 24\/7 question and answer service; the ability to clearly display coursework due dates (in response to text commands like \u2018What are my deadlines?\u2019); the day\u2019s timetable; available learning resources; as well as student tools like assistance with referencing, library loans and holds information and an easy look-up of support staff to connect to.\n \nThere are a number of proprietary, vendor and open source technologies involved in Genie which handles handling up to 12,000 conversations daily for more than 25,000 Deakin studentsto \u2018learn the ins and outs of life on campus\u2019.\n \nSpeaking to CIO Australia last year, Deakin\u2019s chief digital and information officer William Confalonieri said Genie \u201cproactively guides students through life at Deakin\u201d.\n \n\u201cGenie is personalised for each and every student, while remaining fully integrated with the university\u2019s enterprise systems \u2013 this gives us an edge over all other smart agents in the market,\u201d Confalonieri, who conceived the idea, said.\n \nAlongside the university roll-out the Deakin team spun out a Genie start-up and pitched externally. They presented Genie at a pitch event at Allianz about two years ago. \n\u201cThey didn\u2019t really need to push us at all, we saw this could easily be adapted for workers comp,\u201d Pittman said.\nAllianz gave Deakin all the relevant legislation and its internal workflows, and ran a series of workshops to identify areas of the claims process workers would need help with, as well as focus groups with workers.\n \nClaims Companion by Genie in action\nIn the back-end of Genie an administration suite simplifies management, enabling Allianz to create contextualised conversation trees and push notifications via a drag and drop graphic user interface.\n \n\u201cWe then had the work of building out the conversations in Genie. We had a team of case managers working with the Deakin development team to go through possible responses and next best questions and so on,\u201d Pittman said.\nFour workers are already using the app in a pilot which started last week and will run for three months.\nA separate virtual assistant project is being developed by Allianz Europe who is watching Genie\u2019s progress closely, \u201cgiven we\u2019ve got something that fits the bill here\u201d Pittman said.\nAt present Claims Companion by Genie is offered after an injured worker has called Allianz, and filled in the necessary claim forms. Potentially, the whole process could be done in-app, Pittman said.\n\u201cFor a simple injury it could all be done in-app. That\u2019s what we\u2019d like to take it too. But the digital assistant will never replace talking to a person. It\u2019s there as an integrated part of the return to work journey for the worker,\u201d he said.\n\u201cBut if you have a really straightforward injury, why do you need to call somebody? It\u2019s more hassle to make a phone call than interact with Genie in some cases,\u201d Pittman added.\nAdditional commercial Genie customers look set to be announced by Deakin in coming months. It is applicable to a number of sectors, Deakin says, particularly health, transport and education.\n\u201cDeakin Genie has become a go-to resource for our students to ensure they\u2019re supported, organised, and in control, and we\u2019re excited to extend that software solution to the broader Australian public through Allianz and its customers,\u201d said Confalonieri.