Concerns about the speed-of-adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) amongst financial services firms should be seen in context, according to Tim Waterton, Director of UK Business at M-Files. He states that apprehensions relating to AI – particularly its ability to carry out the work of humans – are likely to be valid, but when seen in the context of improving the way information is managed and flows throughout a business, any fears are unwarranted.
Recently, new data revealed that from a survey of 600 financial professionals only 4 per cent of organisations had implemented AI technologies of some sort into their workplace. The findings have led some to speculate that slow uptake of AI technologies could see financial services firms lose competitiveness, not only hampering productivity and efficiency, but also deterring digital natives from entering the industry.
Tim said, "AI is a broad term which encompasses many technologies. It's entirely understandable why many financial services firms may be daunted, or even wary about implementing some AI capabilities into their business. However, the benefits of AI can also be realised in simpler ways - such as improving the way that staff manage and process documents and information, allowing them to operate more efficiently - and critically by working alongside staff to make their lives easier, rather than replacing them entirely.
“AI can be used to improve and ensure consistency in the way information is classified, through machine learning identifying what information is and how it should be managed, as well as streamlining or automating document-centric processes. This means rather than carrying out cumbersome but important tasks – such as figuring out where a piece of information should be saved, who should have access to it, and how it should be managed – staff are free to concentrate on more valuable aspects of their jobs. However, to leverage this kind of technology, the right foundations must be in place for managing information.
“The banking and finance industry can be incredibly paper intensive with a daily need to exchange large volumes of information between multiple individuals, departments and organisations. AI certainly has a role to play in bringing innovation to information management but if the biggest challenge remains to move 15 years of tax returns from paper into digital form, then arguably, more pressing concerns exist before AI becomes part of the conversation.
“Digitising these files and processes, and critically, doing so in a way that focuses on “what” the information is, opposed to “where” it is stored in a folder hierarchy, is the first step. From there, organisations will be in a stronger position to streamline and automate their document management activities. Intelligent information management solutions can be leveraged to make the management of information much more efficient by allowing organisations to simplify how staff access, secure, process and collaborate on documents.
“Doing this will enable you to build processes around your documentation to ensure compliance with financial regulations, ease client on-boarding and ultimately improve the flow of information, therefore aiding your decision making. Organisations can then build on these foundations by implementing AI into other aspects of information management, enabling them to begin benefitting from improved staff efficiency and productivity as a result.
“Slow adoption of AI in financial services is neither surprising nor concerning, with the nature of the industry and the data it handles. However, any concerns must be seen in context. Looking specifically at information management, AI has the potential to make some really positive changes by streamlining processes leading to enhancing productivity and greater efficiencies – but this can only be achieved if the right foundations are in place.”