Artificial intelligence report

Empowering people with intelligent automation

Ailish Hansen, Chief Commercial Officer of Fexco Managed and Advisory Services, explores the rapid technological advancements and challenges in customer-facing sectors and the integration of AI in the public sector.

The pace of technological change has emerged as a disruptive yet profoundly progressive force, particularly in the realm of customer-facing services within both the private and public sectors. The influence of current technological change mirrors the transformative effect of the smartphone on global connectivity: connecting was always possible, but never with such speed, ease, and accessibility.

For decades, our corporate and personal lives have been enriched by technological change. We source information and fact-check data using search engines by default; we consume knowledge in digital format as the norm.

As we anticipate the latest technological trend of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, collectively referred to as intelligent automation, 2024 emerges as a milestone year where we will further equip our people, products, and services with AI-enabled features and utilities, aptly named “Intelligent People supported by Intelligent Automation”.

Fexco has been using intelligent automation for a while, but in the past 18 months, we have embraced new AI advancements. Worldwide, businesses, governments, and institutions are also realising the potential of these technologies to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and provide better services to people.

However, this journey is not without its hurdles. The integration of cutting-edge technologies into public and private sector service delivery raises critical questions about privacy, security, and the digital divide.

As we approach this new future, we discuss how AI can aid customer service providers and what customers should keep in mind.

Be curious, but exercise caution and manage expectations

Curiosity is one of Fexco’s core values. We have never been afraid to explore and expand into new areas, a mindset that has served us very well. We are now applying this approach to AI and its potential use.

As the world around us evolves, so do the tools and technology at our disposal. AI, IoT, and quantum computing are current disruptors, with more to come.

Our support functions have long utilised AI, from researching and creating initial drafts of marketing materials to providing AI assistants to support code development and test case creation for our IT engineers.

Recently, Metamo, Fexco’s joint venture with 16 of Ireland’s largest credit unions, has designed, implemented, and launched a new personal lending automation solution based on quantum AI to digitise the loan application process. Tens of thousands of loan applications processed now receive automated, immediate AI-driven loan decisions based on large data historical trends and patterns.

Following the successful rollout of robotic process automation (RPA) projects within Fexco in recent years, and the rollout of new generative AI utilities in the last year to support our colleagues in enhancing efficiency, accessing knowledge, and improving overall business outcomes, we are now exploring new use cases across financial services, HR, health and safety, tourism, housing, and energy sectors. These are designed to enhance productivity and efficiency, improve data analysis and insights, be scalable, and adhere to all required governance and security controls.

We understand the importance of caution with AI. While it adds value, it is not a universal solution for all our problems. Expectations must be realistic. AI is not infallible. Quality control and good judgment are still essential. Fexco has robust risk management protocols in place. Understanding the limitations of AI is key to making the most of it.

Humans prefer humans; focus on “supporting”, not “replacing”

As an operator of services on behalf of both the public and private sectors that interacts with millions of individuals and businesses in Ireland annually, Fexco has a clear view of what makes a good user experience and what customers want.

We see AI as a support for users, assisting with data analysis and generating intelligent responses in natural language to questions, prompts, or interactions. We will continue to focus on personalisation – but at scale.

There is a fear that AI will eventually take jobs from humans. But human oversight will always be needed and desired. As Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, says: “Humans care about what other humans think.”

People will still be needed to make decisions. AI will support this, but it will not replace the need for human oversight.

Trust is your currency

Trust and certainty are crucial elements in the effective use of AI. In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI-powered products and services, trust is not just a benefit – it is the very currency of success.

When users entrust their decisions, personal information, or business processes to an AI system, they are essentially investing their confidence in the technology’s reliability, accuracy, and fairness. This trust is hard-earned and easily lost.

Users need assurance that their data is handled carefully, from the transparency and clarity of the AI’s decision-making process to its consistent performance and adherence to ethical standards, supported by robust privacy and data security all play a pivotal role in building trust.

Without it, AI solutions may find themselves struggling to gain traction in a world where consumer and enterprise users are becoming ever more discerning about where and how they place their digital trust.

With 30 years of experience of being curious, interacting with millions of individuals and businesses, and building trusted partnerships, Fexco Managed and Advisory Services offers tailored solutions to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer experiences and we have truly embraced the next technological advances in AI to ensure benefits are realised for both our partners and ourselves. But remember, AI supports, not replaces, human oversight. Trust remains the key to AI’s effective use.


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