BB&T Corp. has a well-earned reputation for being deliberate when it comes to adopting technological advances.
Thatâs why BB&T executivesâ enthusiasm for plugging artificial intelligence and robotics into its back-office, customer service and compliance operations has raised eyebrows with analysts and economists.
BB&T joins Wells Fargo & Co. and other national and super-regional banks in spending hundreds of millions of dollars to pursue what they believe will be significant future cost savings from data mining of customer patterns.
âWe are investing in improving processing costâ a big opportunity for us and frankly all banks â by the use of artificial intelligence and robotics,â Kelly King, the bankâs chairman and chief executive, told analysts during its first-quarter earnings report April 20.
âWe will be pretty aggressive about that. We just think there are huge ways to reduce cost in the backroom by the use of that.â
Forbes magazine called artificial intelligenceâs potential for financial institutions âimmenseâ because of its broad operational reach, such as: âincluding natural language processing (improving interactions between computers and human languages); machine learning (computer programs that can âlearnâ when exposed to new data); and expert systems (software programmed to provide advice) that help machines sense, comprehend and act in ways similar to the human brain.â
According to analysts, financial institutions have been slower adapters of AI and robotics.
Yet, research firm The Financial Brand said those companies are recognizing âthe potential for cloud computing and machine learning algorithms, along with rising pressures brought by new competition, increased regulation and heightened consumer expectations.â
âThey all have created a âperfect stormâ for the expanded use of artificial intelligence in financial services,â such as product delivery, risk management and marketing.
âNew cognitive-based solutions also enable a more pro-active and personal customer experience at a lower cost than was ever possible before,â The Financial Brand said.
The group said its 2017 retail bank trend report determined that increasing use of AI and robotics was the second most popular expectation of financial institutions.
âIn the first inningâ
The drawbacks cited to AI and robotics are familiar ones when it comes to new technology, according to a survey conducted by Narrative Science in conjunction with the National Business Research Institute.
About 12 percent of participants said they hadnât put AI to use because they felt it was too new, untested or werenât sure about the security.
King said BB&Tâs use of AI âis sort of in the first inning. Weâve actually…