2018 AI predictions – 8 insights to shape your business strategy

  1. AI will impact employers before it impacts employment
  2. AI will come down to earth—and get to work
  3. AI will help answer the big question about data
  4. Functional specialists, not techies, will decide the AI talent race
  5. Cyberattacks will be more powerful because of AI—but so
    will cyberdefense
  6. Opening AI’s black box will become a priority
  7. Nations will spar over AI
  8. Pressure for responsible AI won’t be on tech companies alone

Key implications

1) AI will impact employers before it impacts employment

As signs grow this year that the great AI jobs disruption will be a false alarm, people are likely to more readily accept AI in the workplace and society. We may hear less about robots taking our jobs, and more about robots making our jobs (and lives) easier. That in turn may lead to a faster uptake of AI than some organizations are expecting.

2) AI will come down to earth—and get to work

Leaders don’t need to adopt AI for AI’s sake. Instead, when they look for the best solution to a business need, AI will increasingly play a role. Does the organization want to automate billing, general accounting and budgeting, and many compliance functions? How about automating parts of procurement, logistics, and customer care? AI will likely be a part of the solution, whether or not users even perceive it.

3) AI will help answer the big question about data

Those enterprises that have already addressed data governance for one application will have a head start on the next initiative. They’ll be on their way to developing best practices for effectively leveraging their data resources and working across organizational boundaries. There’s no substitute for organizations getting their internal data ready to support AI and other innovations, but there is a supplement: Vendors are increasingly taking public sources of data, organizing it into data lakes, and preparing it for AI to use.

4) Functional specialists, not techies, will decide the AI talent race

Enterprises that intend to take full advantage of AI shouldn’t just bid for the most brilliant computer scientists. If they want to get AI up and running quickly, they should move to provide functional specialists with AI literacy. Larger organizations should prioritize by determining where AI is likely to disrupt operations first and start upskilling there.

5) Cyberattacks will be more powerful because of AI—but so will cyberdefense

In other parts of the enterprise, many organizations may choose to go slow on AI, but in cybersecurity there’s no holding back: Attackers will use AI, so defenders will have to use it too. If an organization’s IT department or cybersecurity provider isn’t already using AI, it has to start thinking immediately about AI’s short- and long-term security applications. Sample use cases include distributed denial of service (DDOS) pattern recognition, prioritization of log alerts for escalation and investigation, and risk-based authentication. Since even AI-wary organizations will have to use AI for cybersecurity, cyberdefense will be many enterprises’ first experience with AI. We see this fostering familiarity with AI and willingness to use it elsewhere. A further spur to AI acceptance will come from its hunger for data: The greater AI’s presence and access to data throughout an organization, the better it can defend against cyberthreats. Some organizations are already building out on-premise and cloud-based “threat lakes,” that will enable AI capabilities.

6) Opening AI’s black box will become a priority

We expect organizations to face growing pressure from end users and regulators to deploy AI that is explainable, transparent, and provable. That may require vendors to share some secrets. It may also require users of deep learning and other advanced AI to deploy new techniques that can explain previously incomprehensible AI. Most AI can be made explainable—but at a cost. As with any other process, if every step must be documented and explained, the process becomes slower and may be more expensive. But opening black boxes will reduce certain risks and help establish stakeholder trust.

7) Nations will spar over AI

If China starts to produce leading AI developments, the West may respond. Whether it’s a “Sputnik moment” or a more gradual realization that they’re losing their lead, policymakers may feel pressure to change regulations and provide funding for AI. More countries should issue AI strategies, with implications for companies. It wouldn’t surprise us to see Europe, which is already moving to protect individuals’ data through its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), issue policies to foster AI in the region.

8) Pressure for responsible AI won’t be on tech companies alone

As organizations face pressure to design, build, and deploy AI systems that deserve trust and inspire it, many will establish teams and processes to look for bias in data and models and closely monitor ways malicious actors could “trick” algorithms. Governance boards for AI may also be appropriate for many enterprises.


Click here to access PWC’s detailed predictions report


Technology Driven Value Generation in Insurance

The evolution of financial technology (FinTech) is reshaping the broader financial services industry. Technology is now disrupting the traditionally more conservative insurance industry, as the rise of InsurTech revolutionises how we think about insurance distribution.

Moreover, insurance companies are improving their operating models, upgrading their propositions, and developing innovative new products to reshape the insurance industry as a whole.

Five key technologies are driving the change today:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. The Internet of Things (including telematics)
  3. Big data
  4. Artificial intelligence
  5. Blockchain

This report examines these technologies’ potential to create value in the insurance industry. It also examines how technology providers could create new income streams and take advantage of economies of scale by offering their technological backbones to participants in the insurance industry and beyond.

Cloud computing refers to storing, managing, and processing data via a network of remote servers, instead of locally on a server or personal computer. Key enablers of cloud computing include the availability of high-capacity networks and service-oriented architecture. The three core characteristics of a cloud service are:

  • Virtualisation: The service is based on hardware that has been virtualised
  • Scalability: The service can scale on demand, with additional capacity brought online within minutes
  • Demand-driven: The client pays for the services as and when they are needed


Telematics is the most common form of the broader Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT refers to the combination of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these physical objects to collect and exchange data.

The IoT has evolved from the convergence of

  • wireless technologies,
  • micro-electromechanical systems,
  • and the Internet.

This convergence has helped remove the walls between operational technology and information technology, allowing unstructured, machine-generated data to be analysed for insights that will drive improvements.


Big data refers to data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is insufficient to deal with them. A definition refers to the “five V” key challenges for big data in insurance:

  • Volume: As sensors cost less, the amount of information gathered will soon be measured
    in exabytes
  • Velocity: The speed at which data is collected, analysed, and presented to users
  • Variety: Data can take many forms, such as structured, unstructured, text or multimedia. It can come from internal and external systems and sources, including a variety
    of devices
  • Value: Information provided by data about aspects of the insurance business, such as customers and risks
  • Veracity: Insurance companies ensure the accuracy of their plethora of data

Modern analytical methods are required to process these sets of information. The term “big data has evolved to describe the quantity of information analysed to create better outcomes, business improvements, and opportunities that leverage all available data. As a result, big data is not limited to the challenges thrown up by the five Vs. Today there are two key aspects to big data:

  1. Data: This is more-widely available than ever because of the use of apps, social media, and the Internet of Things
  2. Analytics: Advanced analytic tools mean there are fewer restrictions to working with big data


The understanding of Artificial Intelligence AI has evolved over time. In the beginning, AI was perceived as machines mimicking the cognitive functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as learning and problem solving. Today, we rather refer to the ability of machines to mimic human activity in a broad range of circumstances. In a nutshell, artificial intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider smart or human.

Therefore, AI combines the reasoning already provided by big data capabilities such as machine learning with two additional capabilities:

  1. Imitation of human cognitive functions beyond simple reasoning, such as natural language processing and emotion sensing
  2. Orchestration of these cognitive components with data and reasoning

A third layer is pre-packaging generic orchestration capabilities for specific applications. The most prominent such application today are bots. At a minimum, bots orchestrate natural language processing, linguistic technology, and machine learning to create systems which mimic interactions with human beings in certain domains. This is done in such a way that the customer does not realise that the counterpart is not human.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology used to store static records and dynamic transaction data distributed across a network of synchronised, replicated databases. It establishes trust between parties without the use of a central intermediary, removing frictional costs and inefficiency.

From a technical perspective, blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. Blockchains have been designed to make it inherently difficult to modify their data: Once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively. In addition to recording transactions, blockchains can also contain a coded set of instructions that will self-execute under a pre-specified set of conditions. These automated workflows, known as smart contracts, create trust between a set of parties, as they rely on pre-agreed data sources and and require not third-party to execute them.

Blockchain technology in its purest form has four key characteristics:

  1. Decentralisation: No single individual participant can control the ledger. The ledger
    lives on all computers in the network
  2. Transparency: Information can be viewed by all participants on the network, not just
    those involved in the transaction
  3. Immutability: Modifying a past record would require simultaneously modifying every
    other block in the chain, making the ledger virtually incorruptible
  4. Singularity: The blockchain provides a single version of a state of affairs, which is
    updated simultaneously across the network


Oliver Wyman, ZhongAn Insurance and ZhongAn Technology – a wholly owned subsidiary of ZhongAn insurance and China’s first online-only insurer – are jointly publishing this report to analyse the insurance technology market and answer the following questions:

  • Which technologies are shaping the future of the insurance industry? (Chapter 2)
  • What are the applications of these technologies in the insurance industry? (Chapter 3)
  • What is the potential value these applications could generate? (Chapter 3)
  • How can an insurer with strong technology capabilities monetise its technologies?
    (Chapter 4)
  • Who is benefiting from the value generated by these applications? (Chapter 5)


Click here to access Oliver Wyman’s detailed report

The Essential CIO Guide to Artificial Intelligence

The topic of AI has reached such a fever pitch in the media with the coverage of driverless cars, conversational bots and even movies made by AI that it’s only a matter of time before every CEO starts asking their CIO “What’s our AI strategy.

For many CIOs this will be a “deer in the headlights” moment since the topic of AI is so multi-faceted it’s hard to know where to start. We put together this e-book as a primer for CIOs wanting to get to grips with the topic of AI.
We start by giving some insight and context into why your CEO is asking this question, why now, and why you. Then, we will give you a foundational framework to think about AI so you can give your CEO a thoughtful response. Finally, we will discuss how you as CIO, can engage the business on the topic of AI and important considerations when evaluating AI vendors.
So, why is the CEO asking you this now? CEOs are humans too and they react to their environment. Their environment is often dominated by other CEOs, their board, and the outside world. AI as a topic has risen to the boardroom and the popular press with even Vanity Fair recently publishing an article titled “Suddenly Everyone is Obsessed with AI.” So if your CEO hasn’t broached the AI topic yet, they soon will.ai_breakthrough