December 19, 2014

UBS Issues Innovation Challenge, Lands on Artificial Intelligence

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Bloomberg News reports that UBS has embarked on an ambitious project to use artificial intelligence for help delivering personalized advice to the bank’s wealth management clients.  After issuing an “Innovation Challenge”, UBS chose Singapore-based Sqreem Technologies to extract information most relevant to an individual client and deliver tailored content to the clients’ mobile devices.  The article explains:

“Fine-tuned for financial services, the technology allows Sqreem, which stands for Sequential Quantum Reduction and Extraction Model, to build a profile of an individual showing potential match-ups with different types of wealth management products.”

The Personetics View: Using behavioral patterns derived from Big Data to identify opportunities to connect with customers… that sounds awfully familiar!  While the path UBS is on with this Innovation Challenge is indeed an exciting one, the details of how this effort is executed will be central to its success.  There are a ton of technology companies out there right now promising to harness Big Data, draw actionable insights from it and help companies tap into a treasure trove of predictive analytics.  We’re truly in the golden age of data science.  But turning that science into real-world behavior requires both skill and art.

If, as the Bloomberg article says, the UBS customer data will be used to match customers with wealth management products, the impacts of this exercise may be limited.  To truly reap the power of Big Data to find and keep customers, financial service providers need to think more broadly than just the sales tool kit.

Unless big data is leveraged carefully, the risk is that customers will grow weary of getting an old-fashioned sales pitch in a new-fangled package.  The key to success will be to teach and guide the customer based on their unique situation, interest and need, not simply match them to a product that you want to sell.