EBO is a chatbot company that brings the positive effects of automation and data analytics in order to help businesses acquire, engage and retain customers. TFT spoke to Gege Gatt, CEO of EBO, to discuss the benefits of utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI).
TFT: How can areas most ready for AI disruption be identified?
Gege: Inefficiency is probably the biggest indicator that an area or process is ready for AI disruption. Customer dissatisfaction, extended process timescales, and a lack of company-wide insight are all indicators that AI could be implemented to improve things. It often takes an external point of view to recognise this though, as many sectors, including financial services, are wedded to the way they’ve always done things, and might not be best-placed to provide an honest review of the way they operate. It’s therefore important that AI experts are on hand to demonstrate the incredible opportunity that embracing AI brings.
TFT: Where is AI going to make the greatest impact in financial services?
Gege: AI will radically change the way that financial institutions interact with their customers; that will be its biggest impact. In today’s digital world, people want instant answers, and they want them any time of the day or night. AI and advanced virtual assistants can give them the information they want within seconds. Customers will rarely even realise they’re talking to a bot, due to the highly personalised interactions that virtual assistants now deliver.
AI can create a whole new interface between institution and customer: conversational banking through virtual assistants. It can be rapid and accurate, while protecting customer data and delivering insight from sentiment analysis to help businesses constantly improve their services.
As a result, AI will not only transform the way in which customers interact with their bank, their wealth adviser, and many others, but will also boost the insights the industry can glean from those conversations, potentially delivering a lasting change to the financial services sector.
TFT: Where are the greatest barriers to wide-scale implementation of AI?
Gege: At the moment, the biggest barrier to wide-scale implementation of AI is the reluctance to give it a chance. AI can deliver improvements across the board in the financial services sector, including changing the way institutions interact with their customers, but many people fear that it will ‘steal’ jobs from human employees.
In reality, though, AI and sophisticated virtual assistants can actually augment the role of current employees by helping them to deal with high levels of demand, directing customers to the correct information, and handling enquiries which can be solved without the need for human interaction. This gives human employees more time to deliver their expert advice without the pressure of a call backlog and without wasting time on inefficient activities; it’s a win-win situation for both employees and customers.
TFT: How can barriers to implementation be overcome?
Gege: The best way to overcome barriers to the implementation of AI is through education and demonstration. The industry needs to be shown the benefits of AI, both in principle and in practice. That will require trust, so it’s incumbent on AI and virtual assistant providers to work closely with institutions and deliver personalised, bespoke products which can be a true extension of that institution’s brand. Organisations need to look beyond ‘off the shelf’ solutions and instead work with trusted providers that can guide them through the AI process and achieve the best results for the business.
Once the benefits are felt by a few, the rest will recognise the transformative potential of AI and won’t want to be left behind. The uptake will therefore most likely be sudden and may well change the face of the industry.
AI is also an investment, so it’s vital that the implementation of AI and virtual assistant technology is accessible to businesses of all sizes, at a cost which is sustainable. Democratising AI is the best way to ensure it is adopted on a wide scale.
The best way to overcome barriers to the implementation of AI is through education and demonstration.
TFT: How can the workforce be better prepared for the rise of AI?
Gege: Education and understanding are probably the most important things that will prepare the workforce for the rise of AI. Many people will fear that AI will ‘steal their job’, but this is a misconception about the role of AI and the way it should be implemented into a business. AI should be about augmenting workers’ roles, not taking them over. Ensuring that people understand this, and that they know about the ways in which AI can make their jobs easier, is a really important step in generating the excitement around AI we want and need to see.
TFT: Should we be scared of AI? What do you think are the biggest risks?
Gege: Far from being scared about AI, we should be excited about the possibilities and opportunities it brings. It’s understandable that some are concerned, but by and large those concerns are based on a lack of knowledge. It’s therefore up to advocates of AI to educate those people, and listen to their worries rather than dismissing them, while showing AI’s transformative potential.
If implemented incorrectly, there are obviously areas which could see negative consequences, but that is the same with any technology, or even any new way of doing things. Data security is, for example, one such area, so it’s important that virtual assistant providers place this at the forefront of their service. GDPR compliance is one strategy for protecting customers in this way, and this gives UK and EU firms a significant advantage over businesses from the USA and elsewhere which don’t adhere to these standards. By being aware of the challenges, however, we are halfway there, as by knowing the risks we are able to address them.