With much discussion around AI developments in the finance industry, it was fitting that so many leading banks were represented at The AI Summit last month. Having spoken to key figures from Lloyds and Nationwide following the event, AI Business were excited to hear from Noel Lyons, Director of Digital Design at Barclays.

Noel’s team comprises digital designers and design researchers and is responsible for the design and user experience of Barclays’ UK digital channels, as well as collectively designing the websites and apps that their 22 million customers access.

Noel shared his thoughts on The AI Summit, AI’s overall impact on business, and told us a bit about the future of AI at Barclays.


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Noel Lyons of Barclays


Stepping back from the banking sector first of all, Noel speaks broadly about the effect of AI on the business world in terms of user experiences: “AI is going to have a huge impact on creating more personalised, smarter experiences. The ability to deliver services that are tailored to users based on their relationship with businesses will change how businesses communicate with customers in many ways. It allows us to speak with relevance and greater usefulness to our audiences. It means businesses can much better partner on an individual basis with customers”.


We discuss the challenges ahead of the enterprise as it looks to adopt AI technologies. Once again, to Noel it is the experience that is key. “At the moment the technology is still maturing, and as a result the performance isn’t quite there yet”, he says. “We’re still in a world where the service breaks and as a result is a poor experience. Until the services can mature to the point where they don’t break, or alternatively can be designed so the break points are handled in a neater way, we’re going to experience a resistance to general acceptance from our customers”.


Noel tells me he had “lots of takeaways” from The AI Summit, but one message stood out above all others: “The real lesson was seeing just how revolutionary AI is going to be, and how fast it’s going to happen. It seems that it’s reached critical mass, and to see it positioned alongside the industrial revolution and information revolution really gives a sense of the impact and scale”.


Discussion turns to the banking industry, and the change that AI adoption will bring. User experience remains at the forefront of Noel’s mind as he speaks for the sector as a whole: “We will definitely be able to provide a better, more proactive service, and one that will hopefully put users in more control. I think, with movement into conversational interfaces and distributed services, we’re likely to find a greater interaction across a wider variety of channels, as customers look to use us at their convenience”.


And what about Barclays specifically? Noel says AI is in an experimentation phase: “We’re experimenting with AI currently, looking at processing data, and providing smart interfaces. A crucial element of this is how our customers get on with these interfaces.”


Noel’s approach to this is interesting – some of the work Barclays are doing is designing for AI experiences before the actual AI is ready. “As part of our Launchpad initiative, we have conversational UI which allows customers to converse with us”, he explains. “This is prior to implementing AI, but lets us design with our customers the most useful experiences, so we can design our AI solutions to fit our customers (and not the other way around).”


We spoke to Noel after he attended the inaugural AI Summit in London on 5 May together with over 400 other influential AI and business leaders. The second, larger AI Summit takes place in San Francisco on 28-29 September. To find out more, and to join us at the Fort Mason Center in September, visit: theaisummit.com


AI Summit San Fran print screen


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Feature image credit: http://www.newsroom.barclays.co.uk/Media/MediaLibrary.aspx?id=26502706379