At Regions Bank, Amala leads efforts focused on enhancing the company’s technology capabilities and operations while making the process of banking easier for customers. She recently led the deployment of IBM Watson Assistant in Regions’ virtual banker persona, “Reggie,” to handle customers’ inquiries—empowering agents and bankers with additional technologies to improve customer care. Since implementation, 4.2 million customer calls have been answered by AI technology, with over 22% of those being handled by AI end-to-end.

What makes an AI project successful?
There are three key elements. First, identifying and clearly capturing what you want to improve. Second, determining the processes and understanding the “future state” (your vision for what AI will achieve). Finally aligning the right technology to the right processes, to avoid the “hammer looking for a nail” mentality of forcing AI onto all opportunities.

What did you learn as you implemented AI?
With any new technology, there are always adoption concerns and the potential for negative impacts on customer relationships. However, Reggie has positively impacted customer service both directly and indirectly. Reggie has been able to handle calls in a quick and consistent manner, which has directly given customers a positive perception. Reggie has also indirectly enhanced our customer experience by providing more capacity for agents to nurture their client relationships.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
Having women leaders involved in AI allows for additional perspectives in managing AI technology. Communication is critical for AI, and many women are natural at working with people and communicating. Women leaders can also provide insight into how AI should interact with other women customers.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Always remember, at the end of the day, that it’s people and relationships that we are managing—not machines and processes.

Anything else you would like to share?
I am passionate about my work. There is a saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I believe that is true.

She puts Watson Assistant to work

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