Empowering Credit Unions with AI: A Framework for Success

In this blog series, I will share some of my lessons from my experiences driving AI strategy and implementing path-breaking solutions.

As the head of technology for India’s largest private bank, I was responsible for overseeing the bank’s technology strategy. The ICICI Bank, with $230 billion-plus in assets, has the reputation for being the first adopter of new technologies that transform operations and create new business models. They were the first bank in India to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) products, such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and predictive analytics tools to create new service experiences for their customers. You can think of the ICICI Bank as having the same size and complexity as a large US bank in terms of customer accounts and transaction volume respectively, but operating at a fraction of the IT budget of a large US bank’s annual IT budget. 

In this blog series, I will share some of my lessons from my experiences driving AI strategy and implementing path-breaking solutions. My hope is this will be useful information for those technology leaders of credit unions and community banks who have a similar challenge of balancing complexity in a constrained budgetary environment, in implementing transformational technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just a product, but a strategy.

In its simplest form, strategy helps a business grow and sustain for a long period of time. For this claim, “AI is a strategy” to be true, AI must help businesses grow and sustain.

For a community financial institution, like a credit union, it’s all about growing membership by improving member experience and retaining membership by offering exceptional products and services.

AI is a set of applications that automates tasks, frees human resources, reduces human effort, understands human language and behaviors, makes autonomous decisions, provides personalized, contextual and tailored recommendations and can be infinitely scaled.

Essentially, credit unions can deploy AI to unleash a new kind of workforce to automate routine tasks — yet provide personalized, intelligent, humanized, trusted, contextual services without adding human capital. By doing so, members benefit from reduced wait time to speak to someone to resolve their issues, or process loans faster, and the credit union can scale the operations at a lower cost.

AI strategy framework you can adopt for your organization

Here is a simple framework I recommend to assure an organization’s vision, strategy and execution are aligned to one another.

As we do this, let us make some assumptions about your organization’s goals. Your AI should be:

  • Conversational like a human 
  • Trusted
  • Personalized
  • Contextual
  • Humanized
  • Intelligent

Vision Grow and retain members.
StrategyConversationalTrustedPersonalized ContextualHumanizedIntelligent
ExecutionAI application that interacts with members like a human on any channel with an option to transfer to a human at any time.AI application that protects member data and is compliant.AI application that understands member preferences and behaviors to offer tailored experiences.AI application that can handle multiple contexts like a human. AI application that is empathetic and compassionate with members in its interactions.AI application that offers actionable insights from conversation data. 
Member ValueMembers use AI to resolve simple queries without having to wait for a human agent. They love the new experience. Members react positively that their data is protected.Members appreciate the personalized service. They feel special.Members rely on AI to handle multiple tasks, at times simultaneously.Members feel that their values and background are respected.Members feel that the AI application is knowledgeable in resolving issues promptly.
Consequence of not implementing AICompetitive risk. Member churn.Reputational risk and penalties.Member dissatisfaction and disengagement. NPS impact.Member frustration and NPS impact.Member frustration and NPS impact.Member satisfaction issue. 

As you can see, strategy provides a clear path from vision to execution, explaining the value of action and the consequences of inaction.

In the upcoming parts of my blog series, I’ll explain in detail, from a credit union perspective, how the AI-powered intelligent virtual agent (IVA) application is transforming member self-service, member experience and member engagement. I’ll give you an inside view into conversation AI, IVA and conversation intelligence solutions with a step-by-step guide on deployment strategies.

Murali Mahalingam

by Murali Mahalingam

SVP, AI Business

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