The Record Issue 13: Summer 2019

102 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E A rtificial intelligence (AI) holds seemingly endless possibilities for capturing and manipulating data to enhance communi- cation with customers, create business value and boost worker productivity. But with IDC pre- dicting that global spending on AI and cognitive systems will reach US$46 billion by 2020 – and that the financial services sector will account for a quarter of that spend – the technology’s true potential as a catalyst for digital transformation in banking is just beginning to emerge. “Banks have seen some major changes in the past due to developments in technology,” says Monique Dahler, director, Worldwide Financial Services Industry and head of AI at Microsoft in the report, ‘ Artificial Intelligence – a key enabler for accelerating digital transformation ’. “However, these could pale into insignificance when com- pared with the changes that are currently happen- ing as a result of the exciting opportunities and challenges presented by the arrival of AI.” Co-authored with Efma, a global non-profit organisation for banks and insurance compa- nies, the report details the findings of a survey that asked senior financial executives how they are leveraging AI, what opportunities and chal- lenges it brings them, and the impact it’s likely to have on their business. “Developments in AI have already started to transform the financial services landscape by improving decision-making; providing better information about customer behaviour; and pre- dicting customer needs,” says Dahler. “In its dis- cussions with customers, particularly in relation to robotic process automation (RPA), Microsoft has found that streamlining processes and auto- mating repetitive manual tasks are the first items that banks tend to handle from a cost and oper- ational efficiency point of view. However, banks now want to immediately add intelligence (such as cognitive services, machine learning) to that in order to gain or maintain a strong market position and to improve the service they provide to their customers.” Nonetheless, many banks need to overcome obstacles to achieve their AI aspirations. “There is an increasing demand for innovation and yet many banks are hampered by the challenge of BY J ACQU I GR I F F I THS Artificial intelligence is empowering banks to gain competitive edge in a transforming industry catalyst for transformation A