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Exclusive! Driving Efficiency and Innovation: OCBC’s Journey with Generative AI

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In an exclusive interview with OpenGov Asia, Bryan Lee, Managing Director, Group Technology Architecture at OCBC, shared comprehensive insights into the bank’s innovative generative AI tool, OCBC GPT. He delved into the objectives behind its development and illuminated the significant impact it has had on the bank’s operations and employee productivity.

Since 2022, OCBC has been at the forefront of implementing generative AI productivity tools, resulting in substantial efficiency gains. Bryan detailed how, in November 2023, the bank captured global attention by introducing a cutting-edge generative AI chatbot to its 30,000 employees worldwide.

This pioneering tool, developed in collaboration with Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI, aimed to transform the way employees write, research, and ideate, ultimately enhancing productivity and significantly elevating the quality of customer service.

The introduction of OCBC GPT followed a successful six-month trial involving 1,000 employees from various functions, including the front office, investment research, and product and marketing teams. Participants in the trial reported remarkable results, with task completion times reduced by up to 50%. This significant improvement underscored the tool’s potential to revolutionise daily workflows.

OCBC GPT’s capabilities are impressive. The chatbot can analyse queries and generate comprehensive responses based on readily available text-based information from the web. It operates within a secure environment that ensures data privacy, maintaining the confidentiality of information and preventing any sharing with external entities. Since its launch, OCBC GPT has demonstrated its value by answering over 1 million prompts as of May 2024.

Discussing the employee experience with OCBC GPT, Bryan emphasised the bank’s intentional approach to upskilling its workforce, particularly in the area of prompt engineering and using generative AI tools responsibly.

OCBC GPT epitomised the bank’s intentional approach to upskilling its workforce, particularly in the area of prompt engineering. The Group Data Office created customised training programmes aimed at educating employees on the efficient utilisation of OCBC GPT and enhancing the quality of their prompts to achieve maximum productivity. In the last six months, more than 4,000 employees have participated in these courses.

Nevertheless, OCBC GPT has its constraints. It may be less proficient in addressing inquiries about very recent events or questions regarding individuals with minimal online presence.

For OCBC’s internal knowledge base and queries,  another AI-powered tool called Buddy is specifically trained for more precise responses to internal queries.

OCBC firmly believes in the empowering potential of AI. The bank views the relationship between AI tools and human expertise as symbiotic, with AI acting as a co-pilot rather than a replacement. For example, AI-enabled call centre agents provide real-time assistance, enhancing both customer service efficiency and satisfaction.

Bryan offered valuable advice to the industry on embracing AI, emphasising the importance of a risk-based approach and a focus on curated use cases that deliver tangible value. He highlighted the necessity of continuous education and engagement to overcome apprehension and ensure successful AI adoption. Implementing rigorous controls and continuous education initiatives to mitigate potential risks may be time-consuming, but Bryan stressed that these measures are essential.

OCBC’s commitment to nurturing AI talent is evident through several initiatives. The bank established its AI Lab in 2018 and introduced a postgraduate AI scholarship in 2019. Additionally, the Data Certification Pathway programme underscores OCBC’s dedication to developing a skilled workforce equipped to leverage AI technologies.

Looking ahead, OCBC is poised to expand its AI deployment significantly. The bank projects an increase in AI-driven decisions from the current 4 million daily to 10 million by 2025. This ambitious goal reflects OCBC’s commitment to harnessing the full potential of AI to drive innovation and efficiency across its operations.


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