Meet our customer hero
At Icatu Seguros, the Operations unit is responsible for the entire back office of the company's operation—covering all lines of business and channels. That’s 270 people dedicated to completing processes that include calculating and communicating APRs in redemptions (capitalization), carrying out internal and external portability (pension) and renewing policies, billing, and duplicating life certificates, to name just a few. With 6.5 million customers, this is a highly skilled operations team under huge pressure to often perform very manual, repetitive tasks quickly. But couldn’t they be put to work more efficiently? Antonio Nicolella, Head of Operations, thought so. And he was willing to deploy the latest technologies to prove it.
"We had already identified the need for automation of our operational processes. Our challenge was to create a synergy between the performance of our technicians and the work of the robots. Today, we focus on hiring analysts to monitor processes. And we’ve strategically reshuffled the team to deal with more complex tasks.” says Mr. Nicolella. So how did Icatu get there?
The journey started when Icatu invited 3 RPA vendors to provide a POC. They had a week to do it. And only one of them managed it! That same vendor was able to train an IT team of 10 to 15 people on how to deploy and monitor robots within the deadline. And their tool was easy to develop, quick to implement and simple to deploy. The result of this pilot? A process that used to take around 30 minutes reduced to seconds. The vendor and the product? Software AG’s ARIS for RPA.
With the choice of vendor agreed, work to improve operational efficiency could begin. Excitingly, it was core customer-facing processes associated with the company’s call center that came under the spotlight. The Icatu call center received up to 40,000 specific requests. So, the team sat down to identify the processes and subprocesses that would be the easiest to implement and that would generate the most financial benefit.
Icatu chose the Software AG Starter Package to start this journey, it has a minimum configuration including one RPA server, one RPA studio, two unattended robots (that work without humans) and two attended robots (that work supported by humans). Implementation on the server took one week. Working with a local partner, the processes identified were then recorded into the RPA tool. And once that was done, implementation of the process on the customer side was finished in under two weeks.
RPA works by a robot replicating an operator. Just like a user, the robot logs into its user account, and performs all the steps in the process like accessing an inbox, looking for files, checking across financial systems, going to SAP, selecting the correct financial product, and sending the proposal. All this without a single human being involved. In the case of Icatu, exceptions were automatically directed to a staff member to ensure no bottlenecks. And results were immediate: the cost of the first project easily paid for itself and more.
The benefits both for the company and end customer have been phenomenal.
For starters, Icatu has achieved greater agility: the Brazilian insurance market is very buoyant. This is defined by companies frequently merging parts of their businesses together. Previously batched operations from one insurance company to the other would be very slow. With the robots, no such issues exist. Customers can receive everything they need fast without the company incurring penalties. That’s because Icatu doesn’t have to wait to hire additional staff. Robots can aggregate the data far quicker. They don’t need training. They don’t need contracts.
Huge-scale operational efficiency: “In under two years, Icatu has implemented 35 robots responsible for the robotization of 27 processes and 56 subprocesses. In this time, RPAs have already clocked up more than 31,000 hours of processing. And a total of 715,000 records have been processed without human intervention. “We estimate we’ve saved about 4.5M BRL ($850K USD) in just over two and half years. That operational efficiency is already generating an incredible ROI,” says Antonio. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed. At the Automation Excellence Awards in 2021, Icatu was declared the company behind the largest deployment of unattended robots in Latin America. Ensuring it was the one to take the award home.
The company is also more flexible: Currently Icatu has a perpetual license with Software AG. And the relationship is very much based on partnership. Icatu’s agreement enables them to license additional robots in less than a day. This level of flexibility will increase even more when it moves to a subscription model.
So does Icatu plan to stop there? No way! At the end of the year there’s likely to be another POC landing on Software AG’s desk. This time it’s for an operational dashboard. With a number of operators now performing more high-level analytical roles, Icatu wants to have all the process data visualized in real time for monitoring. That’s exactly what dashboarding capability does. It’s a browser-based application that enables exactly these kinds of visualizations from different distributed data sources. There’s also discussion as to whether Icatu might add ARIS business design and strategy. Currently, a major cost is having robots programmed by third parties. But having processes more clearly mapped on the company side will certainly cut external developer time. Soon, there’ll be no more space left for feathers in the company’s operational excellence cap.