Prof. Andy Chun is a global tech visionary and a passionate AI pioneer who has driven digital innovation across various industries for 40 years. He is a leading AI figure in Hong Kong, renowned for creating award-winning AI systems that enhanced the city’s social welfare, quality of life, and economic development, benefiting millions of citizens daily. He is now the Regional Director of Technology Innovation at Prudential plc, where he promotes the use of cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer health and wealth. Before joining Prudential, he was the CEO of several tech startups and a Computer Science professor and CIO at City University of Hong Kong. He has been recognized as Hong Kong’s top CIO, one of Greater China’s top five CIOs, and a global Top 100 IT leader. In an exclusive interaction with us, Andy shares his views on how the financial sector in APAC will be shaped by AI and what should firms be cognizant of when building their AI adoption strategy.This year has been marked with many technology companies making plans to pump billions in AI. What is your take on the progress in generative AI and how it will shape the future of jobs?The past year has been quite an amazing journey for generative AI. I have never seen any technology get adopted so quickly by so many and so fast. It has quickly transformed how humans work and live. This new wave of generative AI tools puts advanced AI capabilities directly into the hands of millions of individuals, unlike previous AI technologies that require skilled AI/data scientists to create end-user applications. Generative AI is general purpose and ready-to-use.People tell me they feel like superheroes with superpowers when they use ChatGPT or other generative AI tools. They can complete tasks that used to take hours or days in just seconds. Tasks such as brainstorming, research, planning, writing emails, composing reports, creating presentation slides, designing marketing campaigns, analysing spreadsheets and more are now a breeze with generative AI.The future of work will change dramatically, especially for knowledge workers. They will use generative AI to automate and augment their work, instead of focusing on repetitive or routine tasks. Knowledge workers will concentrate on tasks that need human judgment, creativity, and collaboration. According to a recent study by McKinsey, generative AI productivity gain could contribute up to $4.4 trillion annually, mainly in areas such as customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D.To take advantage of this new wave of AI capabilities, I would suggest companies to quickly prepare their workers to adopt this new way of work. They need to invest in workforce development and education, as well as reskill colleagues whose work might be replaced by AI. Most importantly, companies need to set clear guidelines and governance for the use and development of generative AI. However, companies also need to balance the benefits and risks of generative AI, such as ensuring ethical, legal, and social responsibility for the generated data or content. For high-risk use of generative AI, humans in the loop are still recommended due to accuracy and hallucination issues.Where in businesses do you think most of the benefits of Generative AI will be seen? Which industries/jobs will benefit most?There are opportunities for generative AI in all business functions and industries. One of the most common uses of generative AI is to enhance office productivity by automating tasks such as writing emails and reports, creating and analysing spreadsheets, and designing and producing presentation slides.Customer-facing use cases are also a high priority for businesses. For example, marketing and sales can use generative AI to create personalised and engaging content for customers, such as ads, slogans, logos, videos, and social media posts. Generative AI can also assess risks, provide personalised pricing, and upsell and cross-sell recommendations. It can also help analyse customer behavior and preferences, optimise campaigns, and generate insights.Customer operations is another area that has high potential for generative AI. For example, enhancing existing customer service chatbots with generative AI capabilities to provide more comprehensive replies by extracting and consolidating content from the company’s knowledge and data bases. Generative AI can also help process and automate customer requests as well as prevent frauds.Companies are increasingly looking into creating their own internal private generative AI large language models (LLMs) that are customised for their specific businesses. This is basically an AI that knows everything about a company, more than any other human employee! That is very powerful. Such a private LLM can do many things, such as analysing current market trends and suggesting new product and marketing strategies. It can also examine financials and recommend new pricing or business models. Moreover, AI can optimise and streamline operations and logistics by analysing processes and finding new ways to improve them. In fact, McKinsey just recently deployed its own generative AI tool for its consultants called Lilli that serves up information, insights, data, plans, and even recommends the most applicable internal experts for consulting projects, based on more than 100,000 documents and interview transcripts.In addition, generative AI can greatly reduce the workload for software developers in a company by generating code snippets, writing documentation, and helping with debugging. Generative AI can assist R&D to perform research, competitive analysis, trend analysis, and new product or service recommendations. In production, generative AI can help optimise processes, improve quality, reduce waste, and increase efficiency.Generative AI will have a significant impact on all industry sectors. But I think it has the highest potential in the BFSI sector. There are many touchpoints with customers that can benefit from personalisation and generative AI servicing. Generative AI can help detect fraud, manage risk, optimise portfolios, generate financial reports, and provide financial advice.Online retail is another sector that can benefit from generative AI by improving and streamlining the customer experience. The high-tech industry is also going to be impacted by generative AI being integrated into all the popular applications. Healthcare will see major improvements as well with generative AI helping diagnose diseases, design drugs, synthesise medical images, generate medical reports, and create educational materials for patients and professionals.How do you think the financial sector in APAC will be shaped by AI-both in terms of businesses and jobs?The financial sector in APAC has always been one of the most dynamic and innovative regions in the world when it comes to adopting cutting edge technologies, such as AI. Over the years, APAC financial firms have already matured their AI lifecycles and made significant investments to take AI into production and scale. AI can bring many benefits for the financial sector in APAC, both in terms of businesses and jobs. For businesses, AI can help improve productivity, efficiency, quality, innovation, and competitiveness. It can also help create new products, services, markets, and revenue streams. For example, AI can help detect fraud, manage risk, optimise portfolios, generate financial reports, provide financial advice, and create realistic scenarios and forecasts.For jobs, AI can help augment the capabilities and skills of financial professionals, such as data scientists, analysts, advisors, traders, and managers. It can also help automate some of the routine or low-skill tasks, such as data entry, processing, verification, and validation. This can free up time and resources for more value-added and creative activities. For example, AI can help generate investment research and ideas, design new financial products and strategies, and provide personalised and immersive customer experiences.However, AI also poses some challenges and risks for the financial sector in APAC. It may disrupt some of the existing business models, processes, regulations, and norms. It may also create ethical and legal issues, such as privacy, security, authenticity, accountability, bias, and fairness. Moreover, AI may require workforce development and transformation on a large scale. When adopting AI, companies need to balance the value AI brings with associated risks, as well as constantly monitor AI performance to ensure it continues to meet companies’ AI ethics and governance guidelines after deployment. How is Prudential planning to tap into AI’s potential? Which areas will it focus on in the near future?AI is transforming the insurance industry in many ways, from improving productivity, efficiency, quality, innovation, and competitiveness, to creating new products, services, markets, and revenue streams. Some of the use cases for AI in the insurance industry include streamlining and automating the claims process, reducing costs and errors, and enhancing customer satisfaction. AI can assess risks and improve the accuracy and speed of underwriting and pricing. AI can also personalise and customise policies and premiums for individual customers, based on their behaviour and preferences. AI can create new and innovative products that meet the changing needs and expectations of customers, such as on-demand, pay-as-you-go, or usage-based insurance. AI can also enhance the customer experience by providing chatbots, voice assistants, and virtual assistants that can offer 24/7 service, support, and advice. At Prudential, we use AI to provide accessible financial and health solutions to customers. AI helps us better understand customer needs so that we can offer the right financial and health products and services to suit their current situation. We recently announced our new strategy, which is based on three strategic pillars: enhancing customer experiences, powering our distribution with technology and transforming our health business model. AI contributes to all three pillars by making the customer journey as simple and frictionless as possible, through streamlining and automating processes. AI provides our distribution channels with intelligent tools to simplify their work. AI also powers our health business with new and innovative business models.Your once piece of advice to the FSI firms when it comes to jumping onto the AI bandwagon-what are things they should be cognizant of when building their AI adoption strategy.If I could give only one piece of advice, it would be this: FSI firms need to be ready to combat the “dark side” of AI and generative AI in particular. As I mentioned earlier, generative AI can make people feel like superheroes with superpowers, but it also has a villainous side that can cause harm and danger. AI is not perfect; it still faces many challenges and risks that require careful attention and management. Some of these risks include data privacy and security breaches, bias and unfairness issues, lack of explainability and transparency, and intellectual property rights violations. Therefore, FSI firms need to take preventive measures when using AI.FSI firms need to start by defining their AI ethics principles and establishing their AI governance guidelines and procedures. They need to train their colleagues not only on how to use AI, but also to be aware of and avoid potential pitfalls. They need to implement software guardrails around AI to ensure that the conversations are safe, accurate, appropriate, on topic and secure.They also need to comply with the local government regulations, industry regulators’ requirements and international AI standards, such as the EU AI Act. For high-risk AI systems, they may need to involve human oversight and intervention. Most importantly, they need to monitor the performance of their AI systems continuously and adjust the models when the customer, business or market needs change. By following these steps, FSI firms can leverage the full power of AI while keeping the dark side at bay.
Published On Sep 18, 2023 at 05:00 AM IST
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