Focus on internal problem solving, security and scalability underpins Ally’s foray into generative AI
Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) announced today the launch of Ally.ai, a proprietary, cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform that has the functionality of traditional and generative AI tools, including foundational models, along with the specialized human touch and data security protections essential for a financial services company.
Ally’s roadmap for AI is focused on strategic problem solving and future scalability with significant emphasis on human training, feedback and oversight. The Ally.ai platform allows Ally to integrate any type of AI capability, including generative AI and large language models, into business operations at an enterprise scale.
“Generative AI has the potential to be a game-changer in financial services and global business in general,” said Ally Financial Chief Executive Officer Jeff (JB) Brown. “As a digital-first company, we are going to do it right with AI – exploring the technology in a responsible manner with core principles and controls firmly in place. In just a few months, Ally teammates have moved quickly and prudently to anticipate how this new technology can positively support our business. We are known for being relentlessly focused on our customers, and those values won’t change – it’s a matter of how generative AI can be integrated to support our vision for what digital banking can become.”
Within the roadmap and in the exploration of the technology, Ally is emphasizing three core principles: initially focusing on use cases that support employee productivity and optimizing internal business processes; providing human intervention and controls for oversight and training; preventing the disclosure of personal identifying information and restricting external generative AI models from learning or training with Ally data.
“As part of our long-term One Ally technology strategy, we have been advancing our data ecosystem end-to-end and using deterministic AI models and frameworks for many years,” said Ally’s Chief Information, Data and Digital Officer Sathish Muthukrishnan. “The launch of the Ally.ai platform is the next evolution framing how we power deeper and more meaningful digital experiences while also unleashing productivity and new efficiencies. We’re being thoughtful about where and when to leverage its capabilities.”
A Spotlight on Security, Governance and Risk Mitigation
As a digital-first organization, Ally takes seriously the issues of security and customer data privacy. The Ally.ai platform is built in a secured environment on Ally’s dedicated cloud infrastructure with its own private network.
Ally also has a robust governance structure in place, which includes an AI playbook from which the entire enterprise can operate – it defines common policy, details processes that must be followed, and highlights ethical guidance and considerations. In addition, Ally has established an AI Working Group, an internal team of professionals in financial service fields such as product, data, security, risk, compliance and audit, who collaborate with Ally’s AI tech leaders to carefully review and advise on use cases.
“Our teammates are being actively trained and involved in the evaluation and use of generative AI technology,” Muthukrishnan said. “Any time we launch a pilot program or explore the use of generative AI in any setting, human intervention and oversight mechanisms are fully defined ahead of time. The AI Working Group and business leaders will agree to how the use case will be tested and what will be measured, and if there’s value in the outputs. It’s these types of risk mitigation strategies that help us carefully and consistently identify processes, people and potential outcomes that must be addressed before any use cases are fully deployed.”
“We’re Not Standing Still”
While the advancement and adoption of generative AI technology has been fast worldwide, Ally’s leadership team has taken a deliberate, but proactive approach to understand and activate generative AI capabilities. Ally.ai, built on the cloud by the in-house technology team at Ally and powered by Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, went online in June 2023 with the goal of launching the first pilot program with Ally’s Customer Care and Experience team later the same month.
“The consensus is that generative AI has staying power,” Muthukrishnan said. “As a forward-thinking digital bank, we must constantly see around corners and be on the forefront of exploration – we’re not standing still. Embedding generative AI into our business, with proper data privacy and security protocols in place, allows us to test and learn how it fits into our current technology landscape and how it might positively impact business processes.”
With the debut of the platform, Ally launched a customer call summarization pilot program that supported more than 700 associates. Over the next 30 days, Ally.ai assisted associates in transcribing and summarizing live customer service phone calls in real time. Associates provided real time feedback on their experience, which helped refine the prompt engineering and model further. They gave positive commentary around the accuracy and convenience of the capability. Now, approximately 82 percent of summaries coming back from Ally.ai do not require any human modification – a metric that increased steadily during the pilot. They also said that Ally.ai summarizations have helped them focus their energy on meaningful customer interactions and have reduced the amount of time needed to document the conversation and toggle between screens.
Learn more about the Ally Call Summarization use case and watch a short demo: LINK
Just one month after the pilot began, Ally leaders conferred, reviewed feedback, and saw the value of the summarization capability made possible by Ally.ai. Call summarization has been moved to production and is now a feature in the portal used by associates answering customer calls. Plans are underway for the next set of generative AI use cases.
“Generative AI is already making an impact in how we work and how we serve our customers,” Muthukrishnan stated. “We will be thoughtful and cautious, but nimble and growth-minded enough to seize the opportunities that AI can bring to our business.”
For more insights from the technology team at Ally, including how the team is doing it right with AI and exploring new innovations like quantum computing and digital accessibility, visit https://ally.tech.
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