Anthem taps RPA, AI in digital transformation push

The health insurance company is using robotic process automation to balance data center workloads as part of CIO Tim Skeen’s effort to make IT operations more nimble for stakeholders.

Anthem taps RPA, AI in digital transformation push

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Robotic process automation (RPA) has become a popular go-to technology for insurance companies looking to automate data entry and replace paper shuffling. One insurance provider is embracing RPA in a different fashion: Automating computing infrastructure to free up engineers to focus on more strategic tasks.

Anthem has implemented more than 130 RPA "bots" to manage the company's data center infrastructure, says CIO Tim Skeen. The bots are a key part of Anthem's broader digital transformation to make IT more nimble for external stakeholders, including consumers, healthcare providers and employers, says Skeen, who took the reins from Tom Miller four months ago.

RPA bots are software programs that mimic human keystrokes to check records, populate online forms, and facilitate payments and other transactions. Although many classify these agents as rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence (AI), they follow business logic and routines. As AI goes, they tend to be concrete and narrowly focused.

However, RPA can also significantly reduce error rates for business processes, according to Deloitte Consulting partner Jeff Schwartz, who said at the CIO 100 Symposium that the consultancy is using RPA to drive efficiency into its IT service center, reducing help desk calls and visits via self-service. Several other companies, including American Express Global Business Travel, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Land O'Lakes and other enterprises are leveraging RPA to automate mundane business processes, including data entry for financial services.

Spending on RPA software will reach $1 billion by 2020, Gartner says, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 41 percent from 2015 through 2020. By that time, 40 percent of large enterprises will have adopted RPA software, up from less than 10 percent today.

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