Let’s get one thing very clear. I can bust out a mean robot on the dance floor. I’m talking full on robot arms and twists, the whole robot experience set to music. So when I got to witness someone impersonate a robot in one of my interviews at the GDS NG FST summit, I got a little bit excited. Here’s how it all went down. I was interviewing Marina Kalika, Director of Product Marketing for Nuance Communications, about how AI technology works.
Me: “How would you say most people picture AI when you say the term?”
Kalika: “Oh yea..Robots (makes funny robot impersonation)!”
Me: “That’s amazing!” (Using all Restraint not to bust out my own robot moves.)
You laugh, but the term AI undeniably conjures up imagery of that lovable Hal of Space Odyssey 2001 or maybe R2D2. The reality, however, is in the landscape of industries’ rapid business transformation AI technology is a new digital solution for executives looking to create more efficiency in certain departments.
“Absolutely it can save us money and time and help us to transition from a process that requires a lot of pieces and people and digging, “said Leonard Prestridge, CIO of Community One Bank (USA). “If we were using something that had an artificial engine that could learn with customer service, it could make this run much better.”
OK so forget R2D2. What actually is AI as defined by those who provide the technology to industries in need?
“Artificial intelligence is really knowledge,” explained Kalika, no longer dancing. “It’s knowledge that’s out there that needs to be harvested and applied to improve customer experience.”
AI technology has exciting potential across the board, but for financial experts, there’s a heightened sense of opportunity. Some banks are taking full advantage through chatbots – which are currently enjoying popularity with millenial customers looking to secure student loans with ease.
“It’s something on watch list,” said Scott Jashinski SVP Director of Innovation and Product Development at Dickinson Financial. “It’s up there because of things like chatbots. Those have real operational efficiencies and they’re so customer centric. The customer really liked it because it’s self service. It also helps with the second most expensive channel in banking – the card care center. So if you can use the resources to deflect stuff out of there and provide great customer experience, that’s a win-win!”
Despite this excitement and potential, AI technology isn’t being as widely used as some believe it should be.
“I think its now but we’re just not adopting it now as an industry,” lamented Christopher Bowman VP of Global Technology Services for U.S. Bank. “So, it could be now. It should be now!”
So what’s with the delay? Obviously cost is always a factor and then of course the logistics of rolling it out through an entire department, but you cant deny that one other caveat is the fear factor that psychologically surrounds the issue: Rapidly depleting jobs that capable humans now do given instead to robots.
“That’s a big fear,” admitted Kalika. “People are concerned with replacing jobs with robots, but the version of AI that we use and see as most effective isn’t replacing agents, it’s getting them to focus on more complex tasks and more interesting questions that robots can’t answer. We feel the combination of self service and assisted service drives the best customer experience
Financial executives I spoke with agree. They’re not looking to replace Joe with that lovable Space Odyssey Hal. They say they want to free up Joe from menial tasks and allow him to focus on helping the business in other useful ways.
“I think it is a perceived concern,” says Prestridge, “but our staff wears so many hats and all we want to do it free them up from one area to focus on more pertinent things. It would make things easier for everyone if we can get rid of the ancillary issues, not do away with their positions! We’re creating efficiency and we’re helping our customers.”
Does that compute?
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