How low-code platforms help underwriters tap the value of cognitive services

By | 3 minute read | November 30, 2016

leadspace image of an insurance policy written by underwriters

The Mendix team was really excited to sponsor and attend IBM World of Watson for the first time in October 2016. We met a lot of great people and learned a lot about the future of Watson and cognitive computing.  In particular, Mendix was there to help organizations understand how low-code platforms can speed up development of ‘smart’ web and mobile applications using IBM Watson services. To that end, we hosted a breakout session with our customer Erie Insurance and also demoed a fun IoT application in our booth. Here’s a recap of what we shared.

Reducing the learning curve for new underwriters

What we’ve heard from many IT leaders is that while they see enormous potential for Watson, applying cognitive services in the context of business processes is often complex and requires hard-to-find skills. Our breakout session highlighted how Mendix’s drag-and-drop approach to leveraging Watson services makes it possible for less technical users to build innovative apps.

Knowing that seeing is believing, we invited our customer Erie Insurance to share how they built an application with Mendix that uses Watson AI to reduce the learning curve for new underwriters. Like many organizations, Erie faced the challenge of having to train new team members to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Often, junior underwriters need clarification on different situations when determining what insurance policies to offer prospective policy holders. This would take senior team members’ focus away from being able to spend time on higher impact activities.

Erie had begun leveraging Watson to build an active database of information related to scenarios that underwriters can use to streamline the process of quoting insurance policies. The IT team trained Watson to pull relevant information using Natural Language Classification, Retrieve and Rank, and Text to Speech services on IBM Bluemix. This was important for connecting questions that underwriters might ask in a number of different ways with the relevant answers in Watson. For example, in the case of quoting a commercial policy, an underwriter might ask “what is the risk of having perishable inventory?” or “what’s the impact of stock expiring?” Both questions should yield the same results.

Easy access for rapid autonomy

To make the team of junior underwriters more autonomous, the information from Watson needed to be easily accessible. To make the user experience intuitive, the IT team developed an internal web application using Mendix’s visual modeling environment and drag-and-drop connectors to Watson services in two months. The application allows underwriters to easily search and receive answers that they need to do their jobs

In addition to the presentation with Erie Insurance, our booth featured an IoT application built with our platform that allowed users to turn a light switch on and off. The light was hooked up to a Raspberry Pi board, which transmitted data to IBM Bluemix and could in turn be controlled by the Mendix app.

mendix graphic showing the steps of app developmentThe steps of ‘smart’ app development

While this demo is a simple example, there are real-world applications for this approach. For instance, this integration of technology platforms can benefit an insurance company by enabling them to build an application that monitors how environmental conditions affect the value of insured goods in transit. Materials such as petroleum can fluctuate in value depending on conditions in transit.

a screenshot of the Mendix development app

A screenshot of the Mendix development tool

An application that pulls data from sensors in the cargo container would allow the company to monitor and immediately react to changing conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Mendix allows IT teams to maximize the capabilities of smart technology. In addition, Mendix is helping organizations build and deploy IoT connected applications that have tremendous impact on the progress of the business.

To learn more about how low-code can help you build IoT applications, visit