Hong Leong Bank Berhad had just signed a partnership with IBM which would see the bank employ the technology giant’s IBM Watson platform.

The financial services organisation is the first bank in Malaysia that will be using this platform. For those who don’t know, IBM Watson is a cognitive learning system, basically a system that can ‘learn’. With IBM Watson, Hong Leong Bank will have better customer support for its credit card services. The programme is broken down to a few stages, where the first one will see the cognitive technology behind IBM Watson used as an online customer self-service advisor. Using the technology to in place of a human staff allows Hong Leong Bank to service its customers 24/7. At the same time, it will be able to support the Bank’s call centre service advisors. Additionally, the system is able to analyse large volumes of data, so that it can identify a customer’s needs and thus respond with the best option; this is, essentially, Big Data Analytics.

“Customers have come to expect higher levels of integrated and timely service, with an increasing need for exceptional phone and online experience. We need to ensure that our systems are able to anticipate customer needs so that we may proactively provide solutions. The IBM Watson technology provides us this advantage by allowing us to understand the context of customer needs and preferences, which will reduce call waiting time and ensure greater consistency and accuracy of information” said Edward Pinto, Chief Operating Officer for Customer Experience & Analytics, Hong Leong Bank. Pinto also commented that the implementation of the IBM Watson system is a crucial part of the bank’s goal towards digitisation.

IBM Malaysia’s Managing Director, Chong Chye Neo, who was present at the signing, said: “Cognitive banking builds upon the personalisation and digitisation trends in banking over the last decade. The future bank is knowledge driven and convenes operations and offerings around its customers and their economic choices. This strategic partnership with Hong Leong Bank Berhad allows them to anticipate and respond to the changing market; and transform the relationship between the bank and its customers.”

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