Kristen loves taking ideas from inception to launch, working collaboratively with partners and teams across the bank to support scaling them across the company. With the support of IBM, she has been instrumental in the bank’s adoption of AI to not only enhance operations but fuel learning and innovation for its customers and staff. Examples include the birth and build of “Cora,” the bank’s first AI-enabled chatbot, which is now scaled across the digital estate, supporting more than 5,000 conversations and successfully handling 160,000 questions a week; “Ask Archie,” the award-winning IBM Watson and IBM Cloud chatbot that last year answered more than 500,000 worker queries about HR, technology and other company matters; and groundbreaking work in zero-UI applications.

What was the business opportunity you sought to address by using AI?
Our initial business opportunity was to use AI to develop our sales and support model for our customers. But we also wondered: How can we harness this suite of technologies to better serve our customers? How can we help them get the answers they need, when they need them, on their terms? This was really the start of our journey into AI.

How does Watson fit into your overall business?
Once we had established a foundational platform using Watson, we realized we could leverage this intelligent platform in so many ways. The platform has allowed us to more quickly explore cutting-edge applications. We can now explore ideas such as the future of human and digital interaction powered by AI, as well as zero-UI banking—in which customers conduct their banking by speaking or through movements, for example, without relying on a screen to intermediate. This led us to using AI to support our staff, through Ask Archie, to building the world’s first digital human in partnership with Soul Machines, and to piloting the U.K.’s first voice banking application.

What has your company achieved with Watson?
We are able to deliver a better service for our customers, when and how they need it. We are also able to use our AI platform and capabilities to fuel newer, more experimental practices, collaboration opportunities and interaction methods to ensure we are well-placed for the future. We are benefiting by being able to put new applications into customers’ hands quickly so that, in turn, we learn more quickly.

What do you hope to see in the future?
We anticipate AI will increasingly be deployed to serve our customers better and drive operational efficiencies in areas including workflow, fraud, security, reporting and planning. We also believe it will drive digital channels such as voice, video and avatars, freeing up humans to deal with the most important and complex customer needs. It couldn't be a more exciting time to be working in this space!

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
Diversity of participation leads to diversity of thinking and the elimination of bias, all of which will lead to better outcomes for our customers. It’s important to have more women leaders involved in AI, but it’s equally important to have diversity at large and for our wider society to be represented in the field.

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