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AMBS completes innovative KTP with leading law firm

Alliance Manchester Business School has completed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with global legal business DWF which has led to the launch of an insurance intelligence tool.

The tool, named Ivy, draws on historic data to approximate the recommended value of an insurance claim and tailor an approach for how best to achieve an optimal outcome for clients.

Dr Nadia Papamichail, Senior Lecturer in Information and Decision Systems at Alliance MBS, said the tool augmented fee earners’ ability to make quicker and more accurate decisions by integrating current and historical data to optimise settlement cases both in terms of value and time.

As she explained: “The project contributed to DWF’s operational performance internally by improving claims handling efficiency and effectiveness, while enhancing the company’s value proposition to clients externally. Most importantly, the benefits of utilising good quality data and shifting DWF towards a data-empowered culture are expected to be long-lasting.”


DWF is one of the first legal businesses to partner with a university on such a KTP scheme, which is part-funded by Innovate UK. Professor Ian Miles from AMBS, who was also an academic lead on the project, said it showed how professional services firms in general are now seeking to seize emerging opportunities around artificial intelligence (AI), big data and data analytics.

He added: “This project simultaneously explored the technical and organisational elements of establishing new types of support for a particular set of activities within a legal services firm. The results are now of relevance to other activities of the firm, and also to professional services more generally, as emerging AI applications and evolving demands from clients continue to foster digital and cultural change. In fact I see this as just the beginning of a tide of activity in this area."

Dr Mayowa Ayodele, Data Process & Application Scientist, was the KTP Associate on the project. She added: "This project demonstrated the value of collaboration between domain experts and data science professionals. While a data science professional can draw insights from data, such insights can only be explored with domain-specific interpretations. We there worked very closely with domain experts for data understanding, and with IT professionals to achieve seamless integration with the existing infrastructure. Adequate knowledge of the data and thought process of the users were key to the success of the project."


Professor Miles said the project was as much about “augmenting” as “automating”. “If you talk about automation then you are talking about machines making decisions. But augmentation is about gaining insights from what data is saying has happened in the past. With this particular project DWF was keen to access data from a number of different platforms and then synthesise that data. As a business school we were able to bring in our expertise in AI, and in designing and developing decision tools.”

But he stressed that the KTP was not just about developing a system. “It was also very much about shifting the culture of the firm too. It is all very well developing a system but you have to persuade people to use it. So we got line managers involved from an early stage and identified people within the firm who could really champion the project too.”

David Robinson, Operations Director for Insurance at DWF, added: "We all hear references to big data and the insights it can give us and this is a real example of partnership between our people and the data science expertise. Our partnership allowed us to shape a tool that will drive the best settlements for our clients and also return even further value so our clients can then go on to further shape their own strategies. It's been a hugely exciting project for DWF, and it has now come full circle in getting great outcomes for our clients."

Alan Turing Institute

The project also linked to Dr Papamichail’s work on AI explainability at the Alan Turing Institute, the leading national Institute of data science and Artificial Intelligence, where she is a Turing Fellow. As she added: “Developing decision algorithms and decision aiding tools with interpretable and understandable outputs and recommendations is crucial. With Ivy, we adopted a human-centric design and placed users and their needs at the centre of the system development process.”

Meanwhile Professor Miles added that AMBS was keen to continue working with DWF on future projects in this area. DWF is also a partner in The University of Manchester’s Law and Technology Initiative, a consortium that brings together law firms and academics with the aim of stimulating technological, organisational and business innovation in the legal services sector.