Embracing Artificial Intelligence: Do UAE banks have a choice?
Much has been said and written about disruptive technologies and how they are shaking things up across industries. But it is clear by now that businesses have to constantly track the course of technological innovation, which is coming through at a rapid pace making their strategies and planning almost obsolete, to understand what future has in store for them.
The entire banking industry is now being disrupted by new technologies, and Artificial Intelligence, above all else, has taken it precedence. One can clearly see an increased enthusiasm across the industry to introduce Artificial Intelligence into business owing to the potential of this cutting-edge technology to transform the way banks do business. Drawing inspiration from the country, which is at the forefront of the global technological revolution, leading banks in the UAE have also joined their international counterparts in applying the intelligent technology in their day-to-day operations. Nonetheless, a sector-wide adoption is still far from reality.
It is certain that the way people bank will undergo a major transformation in the coming days. However, customer experience will continue to be at the heart of the business, and enhancing it will be both a challenge and an opportunity for banks. Using Artificial Intelligence-powered tools and devices that can systematically analyze the vast trove of data to derive customer behavior patterns, banks can offer their customers personalized products and services that closely match their needs.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence has brought pivotal changes in customer engagement in the banking industry. Many banks have adapted their existing customer service models by incorporating sophisticated chatbots that can understand queries and respond to them just as humans do. The new smart solution, which typically uses text-based live chat leveraging popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp among others, has helped banks not only in bringing down the time it takes to connect a customer to a relationship officer but also in offering multi-disciplinary services without referrals and delays. A few banks have already been piloting chatbots to offer their customers an intuitive and personalized experience.
Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence has accelerated automation in the banking sector. Banks can achieve up to 50% operational costs savings by adopting the relatively inexpensive technology which is easy to develop and maintain. One of the UAE banks has already proved this to be true by deploying a humanoid bilingual robot that can converse in English and Arabic while listening to customers’ needs and resolving their issues. On the other hand, another local bank has announced its plans to adopt chatbots take over the responsibilities of 10% of its workforce that will be deployed to carry out more physical and cognitive tasks.
At a time when banks are challenged by increasing threats from cybercriminals, Artificial Intelligence comes as a savior for the industry. Through machine learning and problem-solving, Artificial Intelligence software can identify patterns and anomalies to enable it to detect compromises and respond to them instantly.
While some banks have already been reaping the fruits of the fast-evolving technology, it seems others have not made up their minds. The banks in the UAE are better placed than others in the region to make most of the technology thanks to the evolving Artificial Intelligence ecosystem and growing smart infrastructure in the country, which launched an exclusive strategy in October 2017. With the aim of improving government performance and efficiency, and expediting future development projects, the country launched 'UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ and appointed a minister of state for artificial intelligence in a world’s first move. Subsequently, the government has made significant investments to boost the development of the innovative technology to bring transformative changes across its various agencies. As for banks, this novel initiative eventually created a favorable environment for them to experiment and leverage the technology.
Considering the pace at which Artificial Intelligence is shaping up the banking industry, this should serve as a wake-up call for banks who are yet to join the ranks. It appears that the fast-evolving technology will soon become a must-have for banks to thrive or even survive in an increasingly competitive environment.