MaryAnn and her team developed the first paperless mortgage process in the UK, and have doubled mortgage lending in the past five years. At the center of this transformation is a natural-language agent known as Marge. Powered by IBM Watson, Marge answers the agents’ questions and assists with compliance issues, giving them more time to focus on their customers.

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What was the opportunity or challenge you sought to address through AI?
There’s increased regulation in the UK mortgage market, which creates more complexity for our agents. In simpler times, agents could rely on their knowledge and memory. But that was no longer a viable option. We required a solution that would allow our agents to truly listen to and understand our customers without the pressure of having to remember what the next step in the process was going to be.

How are you using Watson in your business?
Marge, powered by Watson, supports our agents by delivering all updates to their desktop in real time. The system also generates data, which we can then analyze to deepen our understanding of the customer journey and the opportunities that exist to make improvements.

Have you found anything surprising or transformational in the process?
The surprising element comes with our people. We had the nervousness that there could be a lack of trust in AI from agents on the frontline. This could not have been further from the truth—the agents have embraced Marge as a trusted colleague and have been active in her education to allow them to better support their customers.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women as they enter the workforce?
Set a clear vision, know your purpose and stand by your values. For me, I asked myself what success would look like for me when I was 60. Then work back and develop an inclusive work/life plan.

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