AI Revolution: A Year of Transformative Impact and the Road Ahead

As we return to the office after an excellent summer break, it's clear AI has touched many parts of our lives.

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If you’re an engineer you may have experimented with an AI hobby project, or maybe you explored a new AI App, or maybe you’ve have noticed AI-driven features in your everyday apps and devices.

"It’s imperative we – our bank, our industry, our region – are at the forefront of this revolution."

In just a year Generative AI has started to profoundly reshape our world. However, this transformation has only just begun.

In the last days of 2022, OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT and we all started to realise the dramatic capabilities afforded by Large Language Models.

Within a week it became the fastest-growing app in history; by the beginning of 2023 the innovation pace increased further.

Major global companies made major dramatic strategic shifts, fortunes were made by chip companies that fuel these models, and software vendors globally began enhancing their products. 

All consumer technology - your iPhone, your browser, your PC, your home devices – all have new AI capabilities being added now to make them even better. 

Major industries have begun to embrace gen-AI, and we are now seeing wholesale shifts in wide sets of activities:  the majority of companies that write software are now embracing gen-AI and seeing double-digit productivity improvements. That’s only the beginning as more consumer-facing services are released augmented with gen-AI.

But 2023 was primarily a year of experimentation and exploration, setting the stage for a far more transformative year ahead.

At ANZ we are committed to shaping a world where people and communities thrive.  As the Chief Technology Officer, I see technology directly enabling that purpose.  I’m firmly of the opinion that our bank, our industry and in fact our region must think about how we will be at the forefront of the AI revolution, enabling the best outcomes for our community. 

What is generative artificial intelligence?

Generative artificial intelligence (or AI) is a leap forward in technology that could radically alter the way we make content – including writing, video, imagery and even coding.

It is enabled by algorithms – most famously ChatGPT – which experts say could deliver large productivity gains.

Consultants McKinsey say Generative AI could add trillions of dollars in value to the global economy.

It projected it could add the equivalent of between $2.6 trillion and $4.4 trillion annually when it considered 63 use cases.

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ANZ’s progress in 2023

Last January we were all talking about ChatGPT.  In truth many of us initially perceived this as an amazing toy. Writing speeches, learning quantum physics, or replacing Google searches were the shared holiday anecdotes. This swiftly turned to how this could help ANZ in our purpose.

Things moved pretty quickly.  We started with a bold position not to block ChatGPT, enabling our teams to explore and learn about this game changing technology.

In March we established an AI Centre of Experiment in Bengaluru to build a virtual team tasked with exploring AI proof of concepts. We connected with major technology partners, ran a hackfest and built a backlog of ideas.  One of the capabilities we delivered was our private and safe in-house chatbot, Z-GPT.

Our engineering teams developed an experiment with GitHub Copilot (a sophisticated software generation tool), demonstrating up to a 55 per cent timesaving on certain programming tasks.  We immediately started the rollout of this AI tool to some 3,000 engineers – and our largest take-up has been in the ANZ Plus team delivering our markedly new way of banking.

We have explored a range of business concepts, from augmenting our customer experiences through to helping us with our cybercrime defences.  We have seen uncanny improvement in how we can search through documents and policies using an AI pattern called Retrieval Augmented Generation, which allows us to ask natural language questions to find information. We also saw half a dozen groundbreaking concepts demoed at Unconference 2023, our premier internal engineering event.

Finally, we capped out the year with a limited activation of Microsoft 365 Copilot, a desktop AI tool. 

What's Coming in 2024

Predicting the future is hard, but the following  are for certain:

  • Our approach to AI will be deeply steeped in our need for responsibility. Ensuring data security and privacy remains our top priority. AI does not alter in any way our commitment to our values; it reinforces them. AI has the potential to identify bias more effectively than traditional systems, it allows us to make banking safer. The risk of AI abuse by criminal elements is acute, and to protect the banking system's integrity we must harness AI as a tool to counteract these threats.  Our Data Ethics principles have been used in ANZ for well over five years and continue to be applied to every single AI use case.  We’ve also established a multi-disciplinary AI Risk Advisory forum to review all gen-AI use cases to ensure all concepts meet our risk appetite and values.
  • 2024 will be a year where we drive value from AI to advance ANZ’s purpose, aligned to our strategic priorities.  Our mission in ANZ is clear, our objectives concrete:  we will pursue AI as a mechanism to help us in move more swiftly to achieve our goals.  

As I reflect on the past year's journey into the realm of AI, I’m tremendously excited about the year ahead as we apply this technology to our business.  I see AI being deployed as a powerful augmentation tool for our staff across all parts of our business.  It will enable us to do more with less, freeing our people up to have more time to spend with customers and on the things that make us stronger.  We will see this applied to counter cybercrime, to strengthen our internal risk controls, to empower our software engineers to build better technology more quickly.  I’m also excited about how we might use this in a way that can enhance our customers’ financial wellbeing. 

It’s imperative we – our bank, our industry, our region – are at the forefront of this revolution. Embracing AI responsibly and innovatively is our commitment to a future where technology empowers us to thrive. Together, we are shaping a world where people and communities flourish, and technology is a key force behind that purpose.

Tim Hogarth is Chief Technology Officer at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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