AI as a Tool Assistant, Peer and Manager

by Sarah Pennells

Posted on 05-25-2018

Wel­come back to our series of con­ver­sa­tions between respect­ed blog­gers from a range of fields and experts from Adobe. These unique encoun­ters offer insight into how end con­sumers feel about dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, includ­ing how and when tar­get­ing is effec­tive, what makes for an appeal­ing cam­paign, and how mar­ket­ing affects whether these all-impor­tant influ­encers spread the word about spe­cif­ic prod­ucts and platforms.

Our fea­tured blog­ger for this quar­ter is Sarah Pen­nells (SP). Sarah set up in 2009, after becom­ing frus­trat­ed that none of the finan­cial infor­ma­tion online seemed to be writ­ten with women like her in mind. Savvy­Woman aims to help women become a lit­tle rich­er by help­ing them invest, save for their retire­ment and deal with bumps in the road, such as divorce and debt. As well as online con­tent, Savvy­Woman runs sem­i­nars and events aimed at demys­ti­fy­ing mon­ey and invest­ing. The site has been short­list­ed as num­ber five in The Times’ “Top 50 web­sites to save you money.”

Sarah is also an award-win­ning broad­cast­er and jour­nal­ist who reg­u­lar­ly appears on the BBC as a finan­cial expert. She’s writ­ten for a num­ber of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers, includ­ing Styl­ist, Yours and Good Housekeeping.

She spoke with Vijayan­ta Gup­ta (VG), the Head of Prod­uct and Indus­try Mar­ket­ing at Adobe Sys­tems Europe. He leads Adobe’s Indus­try-spe­cif­ic Go To Mar­ket ini­tia­tives as well as the Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives across Europe, Mid­dle-East and Africa regions. He also advis­es senior exec­u­tives across indus­tries on their Dig­i­tal Strategy.

SP I’m Sarah Pen­nells and I’m a jour­nal­ist. I’m also the founder of, which is a lead­ing mon­ey web­site for women. I’m here at Adobe’s offices in Lon­don as part of a series of inter­views where I’ll be talk­ing to some lead­ing voic­es in the world of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. I’m here at the moment with Vijay Gup­ta and we’re talk­ing about inno­va­tions in marketing.

VJ So what’s hap­pen­ing is there’s a lot of organ­i­sa­tions, finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tions, are already using AI. They most like­ly do not ful­ly realise that things that they’re using are backed by one or the oth­er sort of AI. And the way I make sense of all the things that are going around, specif­i­cal­ly in finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tions, is that I use a frame­work by Pro­fes­sor Mal­one of MIT. And the way he describes organ­i­sa­tions absorb­ing AI is as fol­lows; they use AI as a tool, as an assis­tant, as a peer, or as a manager.

And if you look at what’s hap­pen­ing in the world of finan­cial ser­vices, there are a lot of com­pa­nies who are using AI as a tool to do, let’s say, first-lev­el authen­ti­ca­tion. So fin­ger­print recog­ni­tion, facial ID, voice recog­ni­tion to authen­ti­cate who you are. So banks like HSBC, First Direct, they use that reg­u­lar­ly, and that’s typ­i­cal­ly using AI as a tool.

When it comes to using AI as an assis­tant, which is help­ing a bank employ­er, a finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tion employ­ee do their job bet­ter, exam­ples can be to iden­ti­fy a list of cus­tomers who are most like­ly to churn. Or a list of cus­tomers who are most like­ly going to be dis­sat­is­fied with their pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence. Or a list of cus­tomers who are most like­ly to buy a prod­uct, giv­en that they have already shown inter­est in oth­er prod­ucts. And that’s typ­i­cal­ly called next best offer. So iden­ti­fy­ing those anom­alies using tech­nol­o­gy like AI helps the employ­ees of the finan­cial ser­vices insti­tu­tions become bet­ter in doing the role that they need to do. And that’s using AI as an assistant.

The third is using AI as a peer. And one exam­ple in finan­cial ser­vices insti­tutes is that of an insur­ance com­pa­ny called Lemon­ade. It’s cre­at­ing a lot of inter­est in this space. And basi­cal­ly, what hap­pens with Lemon­ade is that when you file for a claim, if the claim is with­in cer­tain para­me­ters, an arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence sys­tem process­es the claim and just goes through to pay­ment. If it is out­side of cer­tain para­me­ters, it then pass­es it on to a human claim adjus­tor. So, in that sce­nario, the AI sys­tem is act­ing as a peer to the human being and doing the job of claim adjus­tor, in some very spe­cif­ic sce­nar­ios. So that’s the third area.

The fourth area is that of man­ag­er. And that’s where the alarm bells start ring­ing, when you say an AI is start­ing to be a man­ag­er. But what we all don’t realise is is that it hap­pens every day. So a traf­fic light man­ages how human beings dri­ve and walk. We are all used to that. We just don’t realise that it’s a machine that’s direct­ing our action. So when you apply that to finan­cial ser­vices as a man­ag­er, you can have a sce­nario like what hap­pens with a bank in the Nordics, where they use an AI sys­tem to under­stand the con­text of an email or a mes­sage, and they route it to the right per­son or the right busi­ness unit. And in that sce­nario, the AI sys­tem is act­ing as a man­ag­er of allo­cat­ing work­load to indi­vid­u­als who need to act on that.

So those are the four stages. So when we hear about com­pa­nies invest­ing in AI in our dig­i­tal trends report, essen­tial­ly they are using one or more of those stages, specif­i­cal­ly in the finan­cial ser­vices sector.

SP Vijay, thanks very much.

VJ My pleasure.

SP Well for more insights and to see our oth­er inter­views, you can go to

Topics: Digital Transformation, authentication, banking, facial ID, fingerprint recognition, First Direct, HSBC, Lemonade, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA