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One of the most talked about technological developments over the past few years is the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). It already is showing promise of changing the entire financial industry by making firms smarter and leaner, and enabling them to react and adapt faster in the face of constant and pervasive change.
Initially only technology firms, such as Apple, Tesla, Facebook and Google, showed interest in AI systems. Now we are seeing more and more involvement in the financial services (FS) sector. For example, a global bank is using AI to automate its handling of unmatched invoices. When performed manually, this task spans several ERP systems, requires multiple validations and extensive training – factors that contributed to a set of processes that sometimes took hours to complete. With automation in place, the process is 46 percent more efficient, handling per transaction has dropped by 40 percent and, most impressively, the accuracy rate is 100 percent.
The poster child of AI holding the most promise for the future of customer service is IPSoft’s virtual agent, Amelia. This language processing system can learn by reading and listening in more than 20 languages, and can detect the emotional state of the customer through the use of sentiment analysis. Amelia can address complex inquiries covering a broad range of issues, and is able to leverage machine learning to improve from each one of its own interactions. In one case, a company using Amelia was able to reduce the size of its call center team by 60 percent.
The rapidly expanding reach of digital technology, and the huge volume of data that is being made available, are opening up unprecedented opportunities for FS firms. But they are opportunities which people, on their own, are unable to get to grips with. Working in tandem with intelligent machines, however, the scope of what the FS workforce can achieve becomes almost limitless.
In order to realize this vision, FS leaders need to create corporate cultures in which:
- Technology empowers their people to evolve, adapt and drive change. Far from being a dehumanized vision, it is one in which workers are relieved of the most repetitive and onerous tasks.
- People formerly responsible for these routine tasks will be moved to roles that require more nuanced skills and judgment – such as sales, customer care, high-priority claims assessment and management.
- Customer retention, cross-selling and fraud detection are just a few of the areas that will benefit enormously from the collaboration of machines and people – and that offer the potential for up-skilled workers to perform more meaningful roles.
AI will undoubtedly transform the FS workplace and may result in some jobs being lost. But it will also create numerous new jobs, in areas ranging from predictive analytics to programming, monitoring, and system maintenance. It will impose the need to change jobs, find agile ways of working, recruit new talent and retrain incumbents. In short, it will reinvent what is possible in the FS workforce.
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