'

Exclusive: 61% of financial services companies will use AI this year

The financial sector is outpacing others in terms of artificial intelligence adoption, according to an Adobe and Econsultancy report.

Financial services and insurance companies are delivering on digital transformation promises faster than other industries, according to a Thursday report from Adobe and Econsultancy. Of 700 senior industry leaders surveyed, the majority (61%) are either already using artificial intelligence (AI), or plan to adopt the technology within the next 12 months--putting the industry far ahead of other sectors (44%).

Among the 20% of financial service companies already using AI, 43% said they are tapping the technology for data analysis, the report found. A sizeable number of others are already using AI for on-site personalization, optimization, testing, and automated campaigns (about 20% each).

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

No hype, just fact: Artificial intelligence in simple business terms

AI has become one of the great, meaningless buzzwords of our time. In this video, the Chief Data Scientist of Dun and Bradstreet explains AI in clear business terms.

Read More

The financial services industry has been impacted by many of the same digital trends that have upended other sectors, Chris Young, director, Adobe Experience Cloud, said in a press release. For example, declining foot traffic in retail banks has opened the door for digital-only brands to take market share. That means industry incumbents must take advantage of technologies customers want, such as mobile apps and digital assistants, to compete.

Senior leaders in the industry understand this challenge: 28% ranked optimizing the customer experience as the single most exciting opportunity for their organization in 2018, the report found, compared to 18% of organizations in other industries. Another 37% said targeting and personalization will be top priorities for the next year.

"Decision makers realize the urgency, and are ramping up investments in key areas like data, personalization and AI," Young said in the release. "In financial services, brands are no longer competing with each other; they are up against the best-in-breed for digital. And we see that investments in digital initiatives are starting to pay off, as established brands are starting to disrupt themselves."

These companies are also thinking long term: More than a third of all financial services leaders surveyed said that customer experience--and specifically, making the experience on their properties easy, fun, and valuable--will be the primary way they seek to differentiate themselves in the coming five years, according to the report.

SEE: IT leader's guide to achieving digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)

Financial services companies are also more likely (81%) than their peers in other sectors (69%) to regard customer journey optimization as "very important" over the next few years, the report found.

"Moving forward the experience they continue to deliver must be as seamless and intuitive as the best e-commerce, ride sharing or food delivery app; consumers will expect no less," Young said in the release. "And in order to do that, senior leaders must continue driving their organizations to make better use of data and orchestrate experiences so that the right content is delivered to the right person, at the moment it counts."

Despite the need for providing strong digital customer experiences, barriers including lack of internal knowledge remain for many companies, according to the report. In response, 33% of financial service organizations said they plan to "invest significantly" in digital skills and education this year, while 50% said they would invest "somewhat" in these efforts.

Also see