Don’t Make Up Words to Hype AI
Is a “life-centric, AI bank” better than a “customer-centric, human-centered bank?"
Recently, Ron Shevlin – one of the most popular and snarkiest commentators in our industry – wrote this on LinkedIn:
“I’m getting confused. Is a ‘life-centric, AI bank’ better than a ‘customer-centric, human-centered bank?’ There’s too much terminology nonsense coming out of consultants. Do you know what consumers (and small businesses) want? The ’right products with the best experience for me.’”
Ron has a point. No matter how accurate a term or terms, leave it to marketers and consultants to batter beyond all recognition and usefulness. AI, banking, and AI in banking have all suffered these fates. It is as if the individuals spewing forth word combinations that go against the laws of nature live in some Dickensesque world where they get paid by the word.
No matter the misconduct of some that should have paid more attention in English class, technology continues to evolve and impact banking in ways that will play a key role in who wins and losses in the future. AI is one such technology, and its applications within banking continue to grow. AI has been used to automate routine tasks and processes, detect and prevent fraud, and improve risk management, especially around loan origination.
“Technology continues to evolve and impact banking in ways that will play a key role in who wins and losses in the future.”
It is important to remember that AI is a tool used by humans, not humans themselves – at least not yet. As a tool, its uses – not hyperbolic suppositions about its transformative powers – should be the focus of our discussion. The applications of AI mentioned above have:
- saved time
- optimized resources
- reduced errors
- improved quality
- protected against losses
- grown revenue.
As applications for AI become more sophisticated, my friend Ron will have more reason to rant.
AI for More Engaged Banking
Banks and credit unions have begun applying AI to improve customer service and engagement (thus the “life-centric, AI bank” nonsense). Early applications in this area were disappointing; i.e., most chatbots suck. But the use of AI to help consumers and small businesses find the right products simply and intuitively is coming of age. Machine learning is being combined with big and small data to create real-time dynamic content within digital channels. A consumer or a small business person online gets an immediate experience unique to their needs.
And that leads to the painful torturing of the English language Ron rails against. I am on his side, but it is a losing battle. Nonetheless, there are some things for which it is worth fighting a losing battle. As it is a tool, its uses – not hyperbolic suppositions about its transformative powers – should be the focus of our discussion. As a tool, it can aid transformation. It cannot on its own bring change.
To this point, transformation is still the responsibility of humans. The fact that it is the human, not the technology that transforms should be tattooed on the forearm of every banker thinking of introducing AI into their bank or credit union. It’s not a verb; it’s a noun. To make AI work, the banker will have to determine how to best use it as a tool to transform their institution.
And in the future, can we just do it and spend less time hyping it?