In my previous blog posts in this series, I introduced the ‘technology for the people, by the people’ theme of the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 and took a quick look at financial services organizations’ responses to five key trends: the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), ecosystems, open talent marketplaces, human-centered design, and the opportunities that charting new territory can bring. In this post, I’m going to look more closely at the growing role of AI.

AI is coming of age. It’s set to become the new user interface of every digital financial services organization.

AI is taking over more of the user experience as more ‘natural’ interfaces—voice, gesture, touch, natural language processing—replace browser-based systems. In addition, deep learning algorithms, contextual analysis and image recognition are enabling technology to constantly adapt, aligning itself to our wants and needs. But AI is set to become much more than just a technology enabler.

Technology Vision 2017 offers two startling AI predictions:

  • In five years, more than half of your customers will select your services based on your AI instead of your traditional brand.
  • In seven years, most interfaces will not have a screen and will be integrated into daily tasks.

Will AI become the face of the brand? What does that mean for the organization? As each interaction becomes more personalized, powerful and natural, AI will become a pipeline for customer satisfaction and loyalty, for employee and agent engagement, and for operational efficiency. But getting AI right will require some fundamental shifts in thinking:

  • AI changes people’s relationship with technology – it now works with them, not for them. That changes the relationship with AI from tool to partner.
  • By empowering people with more human AI-powered technology, businesses will transform their relationship with people from provider to partner. A partner does not sell or guide people towards a goal; it helps them navigate the path they have chosen.

That will fundamentally change organizations’ point of departure—their goals, their positioning and how they interact with their customers, employees and other stakeholders.

Committed to AI

The financial services executives surveyed in Technology Vision 2017 are committing to AI:

  • More than 80 percent agree that AI will revolutionize the way they gain information from and interact with customers.
  • 66 percent of bankers believe that in the next three years, the majority of banks will deploy AI interfaces as their primary point for interacting with customers.

AI pioneers

A growing number of insurers are leveraging AI to transform their customer- and distributor-facing channels. This includes the use of robo-advisors to support customers in their purchasing decisions and to streamline claims.

  • Canada’s Manulife is using Nuance’s natural language understanding (NLU) and voice biometric technologies to improve its contact center customer experience.
  • Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan is using the IBM Watson Explorer AI platform to classify diseases, injuries and surgical procedures as well as to calculate claims pay-outs.
  • GEICO in the US, meanwhile, has launched Kate, a virtual assistant for its mobile app. Kate understands natural language and can answer basic questions. She is getting smarter all the time and hopes to help customers by answering more complex issues in the future.
  • UK insurtech Spixii draws on user data and contextual data from multiple sources, using a chatbot to advise customers on which insurance to buy.

The value AI brings to FS organizations will be multi-facetted, reaching from inside the organization where analytics will guide decisions and enhance employee inputs, to direct interaction with customers as they purchase FS products and services, and transact. Creating an AI face for the organization is a journey that requires strategic C-level input.

Rolling out AI

For businesses to capitalize on AI-powered and enhanced interactions, the conversation must start inside the organization.

For many FS organizations, deploying AI begins with intelligent automation in the back-office. Automated data capture and recognition, robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive robotics are all levers to improve operational efficiencies and customer experiences.

The next step is to create AI interfaces that make complicated technologies and processes more approachable for customers, agents and employees.

Technical considerations

The technical considerations are not inconsequential.

To bring to life the promise of AI across an interface, businesses must redesign their existing systems to support its features and technical dependencies. That means developing AI capabilities within UX/UI teams, and changing business processes and infrastructure.

FS organizations will need to develop the necessary connections between systems and interfaces and then between different points of interaction. Robust sets of data are needed from every channel—not only initially to train the AI to interact with customers and employees, but also for it to continuously learn how those interactions should evolve over a customer’s lifetime.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2017 report offers 100-day and 365-day plans to guide AI strategies.

These resources offer deeper insight into how AI is impacting FS organizations:

Accenture Technology Vision 2017 for Insurance

Accenture Technology Vision 2017 for Banking

The rise of AI will challenge managers to learn critical new skills

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