Intelligent Automation: Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty | Sept 19

Intelligent Automation
Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty
September 19, 2023 | London

Companies large and small find themselves unsure how to harness the power of artificial intelligence to benefit their businesses. The Bloomberg Intelligent Automation Roadshow made a stop in London to take a deep dive into how organizations can implement AI and intelligent automation systems to enhance observable, predictable operational efficiencies and help create a path forward during a time of increasingly rapid technological evolution.


  • Kristen Bennie, Innovation & Partnerships Director
  • Ebru Binboga, Director, Data, AI & Automation, IBM UK
  • Amy Challen, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence, Shell
  • Tony Coleman, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Temenos
  • Thomas Düecke, Chief Operating Officer, Digital, BT Group
  • Alex Harvey, Chief of Advanced Technology, Ocado
  • Kathleen Peters, Chief Innovation Officer, Experian
  • Dr. Arun Thiyagarajan, Global Healthcare Transformation Director, Bupa
  • Emmanuel Treny, Vice President for Automation, EMEA, IBM
  • Marc Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, T-Systems

Bloomberg participants:

  • Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live Experiences
  • Tom Mackenzie, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
  • Amy Thomson, Technology Team Leader, EMEA, Bloomberg

Event Highlights:

Opening Remarks

The digital employee, or AI, is augmenting the capabilities of the workforce, Emmanuel Treny, Vice President for Automation, EMEA, IBM, said, touching on the topic that would resonate across almost every conversation. It’s a “big, bad term when you talk about automation, because people think about jobs disappearing and, of course, there will be some of that.” More importantly, AI will be about making sure the human employees can deliver better service, and make more informed decisions. The investment in automation – the one solution to uncertainty in business markets – is paying off. “We are surveying, every year, hundreds of CEOs across the globe, and the results show that those who have embraced AI automation are growing their top line twice as fast as their competitors.”

Panel Discussion: Putting Artificial Intelligence to Work

Once a solution has been determined, embedding it into a business requires “not putting AI into a corner,” but a more mixed approach, said Tony Coleman, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Temenos. “We’re not going to build out the nuts and bolts. There’s a great deal of open source out there we want to use. But, pulling it all together is where the magic happens.” All product and engineering teams need to be able to use this capability. “We may well change over time, and that’s why we put a platform over the top of it so that they can then build our core banking IP over the top of those models, regardless of what the underlying AI tech is.”

Everyone is essentially building their AI in-house now, according to Amy Challen, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence, Shell. “The components you get from outside are just so good now, you’d  be crazy to try and do it on an island.” She added that at Shell, they think in terms of their core IP – producing, processing, distributing and trading energy – using market standard for anything beyond that. Cloud is an obvious choice. “It’s always a patchwork of taking what you have from the market, building what you need internally and just being really clear about the best use of your time and resources”. As for Chat GBT, Shell is using Microsoft APIs to create services, and, along with other vision and text models, is exploring its operations for ways to improve efficiency and quality.

Asked about data confidentiality, Alex Harvey, Chief of Advanced Technology, Ocado, said they don’t track their retail partners’ customers. “They hold all of that data in their own systems, and what we get is effectively tokenized and anonymized data. We can use that to improve the systems without having any access to individual customer information.” Open AI is not currently used within their systems. Caution is necessary because everything there is in the public domain. “However, our teams of engineers do leverage it to support their work. I have a team of engineers 3D printing a robot arm, and we used ChatGBT to explore different permutations with different types of print technology by posing it a series of questions.”

IBM Sponsor Spotlight: Transforming Work and Customer Experience with AI

At NatWest, the digital labor solution is about empowering employees to improve customer care. Kristen Bennie, Innovation & Partnerships Director said that from ideation to impact, she focuses on the“3 Cs: ”the right commitment and sponsorship with the organization, capability (reskilling and upskilling), and change, particularly on the cultural side. “How do you create that culture that embraces AI technologies?”

She spoke about Ask Archie, the NatWest internal support application and an AI application – a “co-pilot solution” – used across the dynamic mortgage processing environment.

Creating customer trust of generative AI is a multifaceted challenge, especially for a financial services organization. “It’s paramount when we’re introducing any new application or technology.” Approaching it from two different angles involves ingraining trust by developing it with the help of their user groups and colleagues, and building trust down through the application stack, covering the bases of data security, explainability, ethics and bias. 

Case Study: How Bupa uses technology to make sure that patients’ healthcare experience is as personal, secure and productive as possible 

The transformation in how people want to receive care began before the pandemic, noted Dr. Arun Thiyagarajan, Global Healthcare Transformation Director, Bupa. In their Spanish business alone, virtual consultations initially totaled about 500 a day. The pandemic escalated that to 5,000, where it remains. It has become an integral part of the transformation of this “massive international healthcare organization” that is more than an insurer, operating hospitals, clinics and other patient services, he said.

Its transformation goals are a “continued broadening of services” to level up its role as a “healthcare partner,” beginning with preventive care, and making the entire patient experience more bespoke and personalized. One approach is AI-powered mental health therapy that includes wearable devices. “We’re making sure that we can receive information about how patients are sleeping, how they’re exercising, for example, acting in advance to predict when they might have an episode of low mood and providing them with personalized therapy.”

Panel Discussion: Advanced Automation and ROI

Where do company leaders start when implementing generative AI? Marc Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, T-Systems said they need to understand its capabilities, the risks and how the technology can help them. “One of the pitfalls is knowing, ‘What are the guardrails you can put around generative AI?’. It’s extremely important.” 

Among its AI talent recruiting methods is to form and dig into multiple pools in different areas of the world, and to partner with universities to find students to bring on board during the summer to work on their various AI programs. “It’s getting them interested in the wide scope of what AI is today. And it’s absolutely massive.”

Kathleen Peters, Chief Innovation Officer, Experian noted their AI talent has been working for most of a decade toward advanced neural networks, embedded learning, AI and machine learning. “We’ve had that core, but then this democratization capability that comes with AI, especially the most recent, generative AI, is very exciting. So, instead of limiting the power of AI to the data science teams and the analytics teams, there’s an opportunity for all of us to see some benefit; some productivity that’s going to help us do our jobs faster and free up time to do more creative problem-solving and collaboration.”

On balancing the potential of automating roles and human expertise, Thomas Düecke, Chief Operating Officer, Digital, BT Group offered the example of improving customer service. The need for call center agents will be reduced, but they’ve invested heavily in retraining, successfully upskilling some to engineers and coders. “Who better to code than those who actually know what customers feel and do? There are not significant job losses at all.” 

“Overall, if you look at the 80s, when the Internet started, we didn’t put it back in the box. It’s happened, it’s here. Nobody’s asking today for a business case for the Internet. It’s an essential commodity. We strongly believe that AI and generative AI will be the same in the next few years.”

Business, he said, needs to explore how to make it work and ethically exploit the benefits.

This Bloomberg briefing was Proudly Sponsored By


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