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NEARLY HALF OF UK CONSUMERS DON’T KNOW THEY USE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DAILY

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NEARLY HALF OF UK CONSUMERS DON’T KNOW THEY USE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DAILY

Newly released study shows six in ten people claim they never use AI at work, highlighting untapped potential of the technology in business

More than half (57 per cent) of UK consumers regularly use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the home, with one in ten saying they use the self-learning technology all the time. Still, many consumers are unaware of AI’s influence at home and in the workplace. Nearly half of consumers (43 per cent) claim they never use AI in the home and over half of the respondents (56 per cent) say they do not use AI in the workplace, despite high adoption of AI-assisted technologies and applications.

This is according to the State of AI 2017 report, commissioned by AI software company InsideSales.com, which explores consumer attitudes towards AI technologies at home and in the workplace.

The survey reveals that nearly one in ten business users dislike or hate the use of AI at work (nine per cent), with 39 per cent claiming AI will limit their jobs prospects. Meanwhile, nearly one quarter of consumers (24 per cent) say AI in the workplace means that they will likely be working with robots as their co-workers or even their boss.

“The use of AI at work continues to be controversial as many people are concerned about the impact this technology may have on their careers,” said Martin Moran, managing director of international at InsideSales.com. “However, we are seeing a growing acceptance of AI and many people acknowledge the benefits of AI can have in our lives. Interestingly, consumers are more receptive to the use of AI when it is seamlessly integrated into their everyday applications, not as a physical robot.

“Medical advancements, robots taking over dangerous jobs, automation of mundane tasks are some of the key benefits that AI can bring to people in all walks of life. Many in the UK have also wised up to the idea that AI offers huge potential in key industry sectors, from engineering to customer service, from marketing to sales.”

A love-hate relationship with AI

UK consumers have a love-hate relationship with AI technologies. While scepticism of AI remains high, with four in ten people (38 per cent) saying they don’t trust AI, there is a growing acceptance that AI can deliver real value in a number of areas:

  • 40 per cent trust AI to recommend personal entertainment;
  • 27 per cent trust products or goods made by automated industrial machines;
  • 25 per cent trust automated sales processes;
  • 17 per cent trust medical diagnostics that rely on AI technologies.

With nearly seven in ten people (67 per cent) claiming to be heavy smartphone users outside work, it comes as no surprise that 50 per cent of respondents regularly use navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze. Video streaming services such as Netflix (50 per cent) and music streaming service like Spotify (42 per cent) are also favourable amongst UK consumers. Other popular AI-assisted technologies include smartphone assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana (37 per cent) and personal fitness devices like Fitbit (26 per cent).

Consumers also know the companies they trust to lead the AI transformation and deliver AI technology that really works. When asked to rank the top three technology companies, Google was named as the most trusted brand (51 per cent), followed by Microsoft (40 per cent), pipping Apple to third place (38 per cent).

Untapped potential in enterprise AI

While the majority of respondents (53 per cent) have no strong opinion about the use of AI in the workplace, six in ten people (56 per cent) claim they have never used AI at work. However, overall business attitudes towards AI in the workplace remain positive.

For those who endorse the use of AI in the workplace (38 per cent), 38 per cent also believe AI will create more job opportunities for them, while 21 per cent of respondents are confident that AI will not affect the number of jobs available. Two in ten (22 per cent) added that they see no fundamental impact in how AI will transform the workplace in ten years’ time, while six in ten respondents (61 per cent) see the value of using AI to streamline day-to-day processes.

Yet, one in ten (15 per cent) remains reluctant towards the introduction of AI in the workplace. Four in ten respondents believe that AI will decrease the number of jobs available to them, while 21 per cent expect to be working with robots as co-workers and three per cent say AI in the workplace will mean having a robot as their boss.

“The reluctance to adopt AI technologies in a business setting can significantly impact an organisation’s ability to innovate and make a sale in an increasingly competitive market,” said Moran. “With Brexit on the horizon, companies must reassess their business strategy and ensure their employees have the right tools and support to succeed.

“Productivity remains a huge challenge for many businesses. The UK government’s commitment to invest in disruptive technology is a positive move in plugging the gap but the onus is on individual businesses to make a change. Challenged by demanding customer expectations and economic uncertainties, AI has a huge potential to help business leaders find new ways to motivate employees and propel the business forward.”

High potential in AI despite lack of trust

Despite their hesitations, consumers agree that AI will have a significant impact on the future. Among those surveyed, 46 per cent believe AI will be key to automating completion of dangerous jobs. Other improvements can be expected in the automation of mundane tasks in work lives (36 per cent), advancements in transportation and travel (36 per cent) and medical advancements (36 per cent).

Additionally, 24 per cent say they believe AI will accelerate processes and increase revenue for businesses, while 12 per cent consider AI to be beneficial for improving elder care and social interactions.

When asked which business setting is most likely to benefit from AI, UK consumers believe the top three areas are engineering (45 per cent), administration (40 per cent), and customer service (31 per cent). Finance (29 per cent), sales (26 per cent) and marketing (22 per cent) follow closely as these are deemed as admin-heavy departments that could benefit from automation technologies.

A parallel survey of nearly 2,000 Americans revealed essentially identical attitudes toward, and degrees of acceptance of, AI to those in the UK survey.

Click here to download the full study.

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How banks can overcome the IT skills gap in a post-pandemic world

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How banks can overcome the IT skills gap in a post-pandemic world 1

By Zak Virdi, UK Managing Director at SoftwareONE

Banks have always struggled to keep pace with the speed of digital, but the problem has become more pressing in recent years. From a skills perspective, job vacancies for tech roles in UK banking rose to 30%, and the finance industry has called for the creation of a new UK body to boost recruitment in the sector. In a bid to keep up with fierce competition from mobile and online banks and fintechs, established banks are now looking to accelerate digitalisation projects. This is urgent, because COVID-19 has forced a decisive shift to digital. Indeed, since the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of European bank branches has rapidly declined.

However, if banks are to digitalise successfully, and enable a faster pace of innovation, they will need the skills to match. This is no easy feat, as talented people well versed in cloud-native technologies, app modernisation and the legacy tech that many banks continue to operate, are hard to find. This is compounded by the fact that banks also face the reality of a crowd of developers reaching retirement age and taking their skills with them.

Changing skills needs to keep up with fintech

Traditional banks face constant pressure from both industry peers and competitors like fintechs and challenger banks, to provide slicker and more seamless banking experiences. Customers expect new, engaging services and functionality, from contactless payments to digital wallets and banking with wearable devices. While it may be easier for digital-native challengers to continually roll-out new technology, it is a huge challenge for traditional banks to keep up with without digital transformation. However, this is not a simple process.

Let’s take cloud as an example. Migrating to the cloud is seen as a key pillar of any digitalisation project, yet the challenge of building, maintaining and monitoring a complex cloud infrastructure is often beyond the capabilities of existing banking staff. According to Gartner, a majority (80 percent) of today’s workers feel they don’t have the skills required for their current role and future career. To maintain a modern, complex cloud ecosystem banks need more skilled personnel. But adding to the issue is that 53 percent of business leaders struggle to find candidates with the right abilities. The good news is that there are options for banks to address the skills challenge:

  1. Hiring new talent: Finding someone new with the skills you need is the most obvious solution. This enables banks to pick the specific type of candidate they require, only interviewing those that fit the bill. However, hiring externally is harder when looking for more niche capabilities, and it costs more. Legacy banks also struggle to attract candidates due to the ‘innovative’ and ‘trendy’ reputation of a career at a fintech. When recruiting for roles requiring advanced IT skills – for example, cloud-native orchestration, SAP expertise or DevOps – the pool of potential candidates is small, and banks can end up paying a premium. While hiring new team members to support your existing IT team may be the first option banks consider, it certainly isn’t the only answer.
  1. Upskilling staff: The World Economic Forum has estimated that 54 percent of workers will need significant digital reskilling by 2022. Looking inward at extra training to advance the skillset of existing staff can be a great way to bridge the gap. The benefits of upskilling include reduced strain on individual employees, less cost and resource drain, and improved collaboration. It will also pay off in the future as established banks build a bank of skills to rival those held by employees at challenger banks. As part of this process, banks will either need an internal skills champion, or an external training partner. Also note that upskilling is gradual and continual; even after training staff, they won’t be experts and will need starter projects to practise what they’ve learned.
  2. Finding the right partner: Training existing staff and hiring helps futureproof in the long term, but doesn’t solve immediate need. Moreover, some banks may decide they don’t have the capacity or resources to pursue upskilling. So another avenue for banks to consider is finding a partner that can fill a skills gap quickly and with little hassle. Outsourcing IT can save time and resources, and enable projects to move ahead faster. With this approach, banks don’t have to spend hours interviewing potential candidates or training employees each time they embark on a new digital transformation project that requires a specific skill. In addition, banking IT teams can focus on fulfilling their day-to-day roles to the highest standard, without having to tackle unfamiliar or new tasks.

Closing the IT skills gap is only going to become more complicated as banks continue to digitally transform, with the added complication of operating in a highly regulated and competitive sector. A reliable and highly-skilled IT workforce is crucial when pursuing a digital-first future. Whether banks choose to hire-in, upskill or outsource, a clear roadmap needs to be developed that encompasses where skills gaps are and how they can be addressed, to ultimately support financial organisations in their digital transformation efforts.

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Unlocking the interconnectivity of Technology and Innovation

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Unlocking the interconnectivity of Technology and Innovation 2

By Olly Chubb, Strategy Director, Design by Structure

Technology enables innovation to happen – but it is not why innovation happens.

Thousands of businesses have the capability to ‘innovate’ – to create something new, or something better. What separates successful businesses is not whether they can do something, it’s whether they know why they are doing it. There is a huge distinction here, let’s look at that further.

The most successful businesses deliver more than linear, incremental improvements that make something better, faster or smoother. Instead, they harness a deep understanding of their customers, not just observing how they currently behave, but revealing and understanding their pain points, interrogating what really matters to them and identifying new opportunities to create meaningful change for them. 

These businesses can rethink the sector/customer problem, approaching it from a fresh and original perspective, reframing the context and transforming expectations of what ‘better’ means.

As the classic Henry Ford quote goes, “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. He could have bought the fastest horses, bred them to be even faster and become rich. He didn’t. Why? Because he understood that, although his customers might not have articulated it directly, the problem wasn’t just about speed – so the solution wasn’t just about being faster. Instead, he built a new mode of transport that exceeded expectations and transformed the landscape forever – and he became extremely rich!

In short, technology enables innovation, but the smartest innovations are driven by insight – and so too are the smartest businesses.

It can be easy to forget or overlook this, not least when businesses are running full speed to improve and when there seem to be more options for improvement than ever. The most ground-breaking innovations are not remembered because of the technology, they’re remembered because they transformed businesses, cultures and industries.

We need to think of technology and innovation as having a symbiotic relationship in business. Insight is the catalyst for this change. And by putting it at the heart of every decision and using it to constantly challenge and rationalise why they should do something, businesses can streamline activity, optimise resource and align every action through a clear purpose. 

Interconnectivity of tech and innovation

Technology and innovation are interconnected they need each other to thrive, let’s look at some examples.

What’s the biggest frustration people experience with customer services? Feeling that they are not being understood or listened to. Having to go through the same conversation, the same complaint, over and over again because they’re speaking to a different agent. We all know this pain.

Dixa, is a SaaS business currently transforming the customer service experience by making it more personal, intelligent, and data-driven., it puts people at the core of its business and addresses this particular pain point – frustration.

Dixa could have used technology to reduce waiting times or increase accessibility. Instead, they looked at the problem differently and unlocked a fresh way to innovate in this industry. The service combines every customer interaction into one seamless conversation by unifying all contact points – phone, email, chat, and messaging. Therefore, changing the landscape by removing the frustration of having to explain yourself again and again to different customer service agents. 

It has used technology to create a seamless, ongoing dialogue that has transformed expectations of customer service forever.

Mews is another business blending insight and technological innovation to revolutionise the hospitality guest experience.

Rather than think about how to improve the traditional property management system that dominated the industry landscape, Mews decided to drive its innovation from a different angle – the human experience of both hoteliers and customers and asked what are their pain points? 

By adopting a customer-first perspective, Mews developed customer-first tech that identifies how and where to simplify or automate hotel operations – from booking engine to check-out, front desk ritual to revenue management.

Small scale improvements would not have been enough to compel hoteliers to switch from the established incumbent – but a new way of thinking brought to life through technology, has created wholesale change and encouraged hoteliers and guests to imagine more.

What both these business example show, is where technology was used to deep dive into a real problem, to fulfil a gap in the sector where meaningful change could innovate to the benefit of the end-user – the customer. Both of these solutions tackle specific pain points, and instead of an easy fix, have come up with an idea that can shake a sector and really challenge sedentary thinking. 

A final word of caution, too often businesses create or adopt technology for technology’s sake. They realise they can, so they do, but they don’t stop to ask ‘why?’. They should. When you unlock ‘the why’, you unlock the insights.

It is the insight that unlocks innovation – and technology that makes good on the promise.

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How can modern and emerging technology revolutionise Wealth management and Banking going forward?

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How can modern and emerging technology revolutionise Wealth management and Banking going forward? 3

By Azamat Sultanov & Firdavs Shakhidi, Co-CEOs of Fortu Wealth

Over the last few years, we have seen much innovation in the financial sector. Challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling have seen rapid growth, with customers being attracted to their open and intuitive systems.

However, we’re yet to see corresponding innovation in the private banking and wealth management sectors. Many firms and asset managers rely on legacy tech that is incapable of providing the modern customer with the sleek, streamlined and hassle-free offering that they seek from their financial services.

Digitisation is key to meeting the needs of the modern consumer, and below you’ll find areas that will benefit most from such a change..

Payments, Transfers & Exchange

Historically, the process of transferring money was slow, complicated and expensive. However, thanks to the likes of TransferWise and other such FinTech unicorns, this is no longer the case..

In-app software now allows for the real time checking of exchange prices, ensuring customers can get the most accurate and cost-efficient rates in the palm of their hand.

Gone are the days of endless form signing as well with Touch ID, DocuSign and voice-authentication greatly increasing the speed in which customers can safely and securely transfer money between accounts, Payees and countries or make payments.

Part of this success comes from the collaborative approach now used by most banks. This has enabled firms to partner with smaller, more agile fintechs, implementing a number of white-label services, and advancing their own offering to appeal to the new modern consumer.

This collaborative-formula will be the key to success and innovation within the financial sector for years to come.

Trading and Investment

Azamat Sultanov

Azamat Sultanov

Digital brokerships, such as eToro, Trading212 and RobinHood have led to a swathe of new retail investors entering the marketplace, and with that banks and firms should be looking to engage with this exciting new customer base.

If GameStop taught us anything, it’s that modern investors want the capability and the security to quickly access the trading floor and invest without the labour-intensive ways of years gone by with brokers, trade forms and endless bureaucracy.

This instant-access to the trade floor does pose risks to retail investors’ capital however and so it’s pivotal that financial service providers make a proactive effort to educate their customers on investing. This also offers a great opportunity for banks to open up positive channels of communication with their clients.

Banks shouldn’t be afraid to become more conversational and friendly with their customers to help solidify engagement. Perhaps by providing a monthly newsletter, banks and firms can cover off a number of key actions, helping to educate the consumer on interesting stocks and share options. By doing this, they can help their retail investors avoid costly investing mistakes.

Through these actions established banks and finance professionals are fulfilling their educational role and utilizing their investing experience to ensure the DIY-Investor is safe and well-informed.

Compliance

The debate over modernising financial service companies compliance models is polarising. On the one hand, established banks and firms will say that what is not broken does not need fixing, however given that the FCA imposed nearly £200m worth of fines to firms in 2020 alone, it would appear that there is definite room for improvement.

Innovative technology offers the ability for financial service companies to automate the process of collating and protecting customer data, and also bypass the risk of human error which can often be a costly and easily-avoided outcome when it comes to compliance.

Automated data processes also offer a multitude of benefits by optimising a bank’s operational efficiency, ensuring regulatory requirements are met, and creating a satisfying customer experience.

In previous decades the financial services industry has been slow to adapt and often it’s been for understandable reasons, the stakes are high and mistakes can result in customers lost and sizable fines.

That said, the benefits of greater digitisation pose too great an opportunity for banks, firms and wealth management companies to upgrade to a more efficient work process and retain & grow more customers.

By utilising the latest technology available to the sector and becoming more open-minded to collaboration with third-party vendors, firms can provide benefit to their customers.

Whether that is streamlining compliance, saving costs and time on payments & transfers or expanding to allow consumers the ability to invest and trade directly from within an ‘all-in-one’ app. The customer now wants efficiency without the sacrifice of security and that is exactly what we should be looking to provide.

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