TAL inks three-year GenAI scale-up deal with Microsoft

Copilot Microsoft

TAL has confirmed a new strategic agreement with Microsoft that will see wide-scale adoption of the software giant’s generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) solution, Copilot, and a “supercharging” of the life insurer’s internal engineering capability over the next three years.

The deal will see TAL, Australia’s biggest life insurer with more than 4.5 million policyholders, become one of the first major businesses in the country to deploy Microsoft’s popular GenAI solution “at scale”, the firm boasts.

As part of the agreement, an additional 2,000 Copilot for Microsoft 365 licenses will be rolled out to TAL staff, which will cover the vast majority of its Australian workforce.

TAL was among a number of Australian financial services businesses to participate in the invitation-only Microsoft Copilot Early Access Program in October 2023. (Copilot effectively embeds a GenAI capability within Microsoft’s Office and business product suite. For instance, in PowerPoint, it enables users to generate original images through natural language prompts).

TAL was also the first life insurer to sign up for Microsoft’s Copilot for Security Early Access Program, which tests various use cases for GenAI in cybersecurity. Here, GenAI is being used to summarise security incidents, provide real-time analysis of malware threats, and write complex queries based only on natural language questions.

The life insurer reports that its Copilot users are already gaining productivity benefits from the implementation, saving, on average, around one to two hours per week on routine tasks, and up to five to six hours each week for its best performers.

TAL’s engineering team will also gain considerable benefits from the collaboration, with expanded access to GenAI development tool Azure OpenAI.

The tool has already supported the development of several compelling use cases, including a new ‘Claims Assist Knowledge Search’, a search assistant capability enabling TAL’s claims assist and customer service teams to search TAL’s vast troves of data assets for relevant answers to customer queries.

Leveraging Azure OpenAI, TAL said its engineering team is also developing a solution that automates manual indexing of emails, using a combination of AI and robotics to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Levelling-up its engineering team’s pair programming capability, the deal will provide TAL’s devs access to GitHub Copilot, where they can check and assess their code, as well as improve coding efficiency and delivery.

TAL’s head of digital engineering Sajeewa Arachchillage said the organisation was “committed to leading the life insurance sector by integrating intelligence and automation into our core business to drive meaningful insights from our data”.

“We are streamlining our processes with innovative technology to better serve our customers and support our people with relevant skills and capabilities to get them ready for an exciting future.“

As part of the deal, all TAL employees will also have access to Microsoft’s Enterprise Skills Initiative, a comprehensive suite of learning resources supporting the “broad uptake and skills development in AI, as well as cloud computing and data management”.

Welcoming the extended partnership deal with Microsoft, TAL chief information officer (CIO) Hinesh Chauhan said the investment in this advanced technology will “make the experience our customers, partners, and employees have with us, better”.

“This agreement demonstrates how TAL is adopting technology to lead on digital in the life insurance sector.

“The partnership approach allows us to benefit from Microsoft’s leading AI technologies like Copilot for Microsoft 365 while also collaborating closely to develop our own solutions for our customers, partners, and employees.”