‘Evolution at revolution pace’

Steve Thompson of Audatex used his presentation at IBIS Ireland 2017 to urge delegates to get on board with the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

Audatex has been a growing presence in the Irish market since Glass’s withdrew last year.

Steve said that the crash repair world is changing, with globalisation, consolidation, digitalisation, consumer-power, and the compensation culture all changing business.

‘I’ve spent all my life in the trade,’ he said, ‘and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever known a time where our industry has needed to be at the forefront of technology. We’ve largely avoided it, but that’s changed. The level of technology today means we can’t lag behind. A technical tsunami is hitting our shores.’

And, he added, AI is the leading edge, impacting FNOL and estimating first. ‘This will have a massive effect on repair costs, and where the vehicle is repaired.’ He pointed to China, where AI technologies can complete an estimate in under six seconds.

Steve said, ‘This is an evolution, but it’s happening at the same pace of a revolution. AI is as significant as the Industrial Revolution. It’s good at the things we’re bad at, but it’s bad at the things we’re good at, such as judgement calls. So I don’t believe it will ever take over completely.

‘But I honestly believe we’re at a watershed moment. Everyone has an opportunity to embrace this technology. Audatex already is. What can you do? What you do will determine your outcome.

Broadening out to technology as a whole, he explained how it’s impacting the crash repair market by reducing the number of repairs, but increasing their costs. He said the training and tooling required to fix the vehicles is also changing significantly.

‘The required investment in training will be the most we have ever known, by a long way. The skills shortage will only get worse.’

However, putting all the burden on repairers is not practical. He said that insurers’ underwriting models needs to be overhauled, suggesting underwriters don’t fully appreciate the technology in cars today.

Steve concluded by saying that technology, such as AI, must be used effectively, with a greater focus on solutions that can reduce or even eradicate certain steps in the claims process, not just in the repair itself, therefore reducing cost.

IBIS is only possible thanks to the support of headline partners AkzoNobel and Audatex, and partners Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Synergy.