AI is one of the urgent agendas for the world, apart from climate change, which will bring about significant changes and impact a large number of people globally, including Thailand.
Especially with the arrival of Generative AI, which represents an advanced level of intelligence that is expected to grow significantly in the near future, it serves as a warning signal about technological advancements and the potentially profound impacts expected.
Consequently, many major organizations worldwide are gearing up, adjusting their strategies to harness the positive potential of AI while safeguarding against and mitigating negative consequences.
This new wave of AI is creating disparities in various dimensions, particularly among individuals, organizations, and nations. Those who are aware, prepared, and have the ability to adapt, learn, and leverage AI technology will continue to progress. Conversely, those who are unaware, unprepared, or lack the necessary skills risk being left behind. Therefore, AI literacy has become an urgent priority.
In its role as a leading technology company in Thailand and as a pioneer in AI-First companies, KBTG is committed to taking on a significant mission to become a flagship that will help create AI literacy throughout Thailand.
This involves inspiring everyone, every organization, to join the movement and Let’s Get M.A.D.
How a Thought Begins
KBTG firmly believes in the harmonious coexistence of AI and humans. AI functions as a second brain, enhancing human capabilities and potential on an immense scale.
“We are entering the era of Exponential growth, where the progress of the next 10 years will surpass that of the previous decade. AI will become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe, an indispensable part of our lives. In the coming decade, we envision that children will have the ability to design spacecraft, edit genes, or create entirely new things that are beyond the reach of today’s generation,” said RuengrojcPoonpol, Chairman of KASIKORN Business-Technology Group (KBTG).
“In the next 10 years, it’s an incredibly exciting time for the younger generations. Today marks the dawn of a new era in AI, and there’s still time to shape the future of AI,” said Ruangroj.
He mentioned that AI has been developing for several decades, and it has gone through multiple AI Winters. The most recent one was about 4-5 years ago when people weren’t interested in AI at all; they were more focused on blockchain and crypto.
However, the emergence of Generative AI has brought AI back into the spotlight, and this time it’s returning with a strong foundation. The key is the abundance of data generated during the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic when people shifted their lives to the digital world.
For example, K PLUS has seen tremendous growth, currently supporting transactions worth over 23 trillion Baht. It manages more than 30% or 1 in 3 of Thailand’s data. Data has become the lifeblood of AI.
Many companies, including KBank and KBTG, have embarked on data-driven transformations. The next step in this journey is automation, specifically, end-to-end automation of all processes within the organization. This includes enhancing the computing power of computers, enabling them to process vast amounts of data seamlessly.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, has been saying since 2019 that the world is transitioning from the Mobile-First era to the AI-First era. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and in 2021-2022, there was a surge in blockchain and crypto growth. This brought AI back into the spotlight, and by the end of 2022, the launch of Chat GPT made it clear that the world had indeed shifted from Mobile-First to AI-First.
KBank and KBTG take pride in being at the forefront of the Mobile-First world, backed by substantial evidence. K PLUS, KBank’s mobile banking application, holds the number one position in Thailand with nearly 21 million users. Furthermore, LINE BK boasts over 4 million users, Khunthong has 1 million users, and MAKE by KBank has more than 1 million users as well. These achievements underscore our leadership in the Mobile-First landscape.
KBank and KBTG have been laying the foundation for the AI-First era since 2019, with the vision of Cognitive Banking.
“We aspire to become an AI-First bank, and to achieve this, we have prepared our data through data-driven transformation and automation across all processes,”said Ruangroj.
This includes software development, software testing, and the launch of new products, all designed to be fully automated. Our AI-First transformation encompasses every stage, from research to real-world implementation, including the development process, workflow, and marketing efforts.
Let’s get M.A.D.
To emerge as winners in the AI-First era, the key is to be M.A.D. To become an AI-First company, we must “Let’s get M.A.D.” This means having Machine Learning, AI, and Data/Data Analytics as the foundation. Some challenges may require Machine Learning, while others may require AI, but all of them rely on a robust database.
KBank has leveraged Machine Learning in the K PLUS app, resulting in a four-fold increase in the customer credit base over the past 3 years. This initiative has enabled the bank to extend over 10,000 million baht in additional credit limits and acquire twice as many new customers for its products. This has translated into an added revenue of 450 million baht in 2022.
Additionally, Machine Learning is used for recommending various promotions to customers, resulting in a two-fold increase in sales closures and an added revenue of 200 million baht in 2022.
KBank has implemented AI technology across various aspects, including KBTG’s identity verification technology, Thai ID OCR, and Fraud Detection. They have also collaborated with Muang Thai Insurance to introduce Car AI. With this system, when making insurance claims, customers no longer need to wait for claims agents, which used to incur a cost of 800 baht per claim. Users can take pictures of their vehicles themselves and use Car AI to assess the damage. Furthermore, KBTG has been honored with the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023 in the AI category, particularly for Car AI.
AI chatbot technology has significantly automated customer service at the call center, handling up to 80% of the total conversation volume. This has saved call center employees approximately 300,000 hours of time and reduced costs by 130 million baht.
KBTG has collaborated with MIT Media Lab on joint research projects, including the proof-of-concept “Future You” (currently in closed-group testing) and the collaborative effort known as K-GPT, a knowledge-based Chat GPT in the Thai language expected to be released as a product in 2024. Additionally, they have engaged in research to create AI characters aimed at assisting and training humans, as well as the development of Explainable AI, which can provide reasoning for its decisions.
“In the future, SMEs will be able to have AI-powered CFOs that provide guidance,” said Ruangroj.
He added that all data used for training AI at KBTG is de-identified to protect customer privacy and comply with legal regulations, including PDPA, Privacy Data, and customer data protection standards, similar to those of banks.
Developing an AI ecosystem
Starting with the transformation of KBTG into an AI-First company through M.A.D., then transitioning KBank into an AI-First Banking platform. Following that, creating AI products to assist customers, nurturing AI talents, and establishing an AI ecosystem for Thailand and the region
“In the next 10 years, everyone must be survivors and winners, capable of enhancing work efficiency. KBTG has a significant mission. We can’t walk this path alone. We need to create an ecosystem that encompasses KBTG, KBank, KBTG’s customers, KBank’s customers, and the entire nation. Everyone must be winners and survivors,” said Ruangroj.
KBTG has been continuously working on building the AI ecosystem, and one of its key efforts is the development of AI talent. Over the past 2 years, they have offered 20 online courses, with 14,000 participants and a total of 273,000 viewers. Moreover, there have been 30,000 hours of re-skilling, and several bootcamps have been organized, including one on Cyber Security, which attracted over 600 applicants.
KBTG has collaborated with universities to nurture the next generation of AI enthusiasts through a 4P approach: Project-based learning, Peer collaboration, Passion-driven learning, and Playful education. They have also partnered with leading international universities for research initiatives and collaborated with MIT Media Lab to create AI Literacy Guidelines, ensuring that Thai citizens have up-to-date knowledge about AI.
KBTG’s Center of Excellence, known as MAD and located at KBTG Labs, conducts research in three key areas: Machine Learning, AI, and Data Analytics. With a team of PhD experts, they have developed several innovative products and research projects, including AINU, the Chatbot K-GPT collaboration, MAKE, Khunthong, Car AI, and recently launched an AI Venture Builder to support AI startups.
“We will go MAD together. We must imagine together, explore together, think together, and create together,” said Ruangroj.
KBTG’s AI landscape, which has been evolving since 2019, encompasses a broad spectrum of initiatives and ongoing endeavors. These efforts span the utilization of AI in product development, the refinement of organizational workflows, and the augmentation of technological capabilities within both KBTG and KBank.
This multifaceted vision involves implementing AI technology in Sales & Marketing functions, including Lead Generation, Product Preference analysis, and Promotion Reference utilization. AI also plays a pivotal role in Credit & Risk management through techniques such as Risk Modeling and Alternative Scoring.
Furthermore, AI is employed across various business operations, such as E-KYC, Document AI, Car AI, and ATM Cash Replenishment. Additionally, Generative AI Chatbots are employed to enhance customer service, exemplified by platforms like KBank Live, LINE BK, and K+ Connect.
The overarching objective is to leverage AI to drive innovation, streamline organizational processes, and deliver exceptional services to customers, all while adapting to the ever-evolving technological landscape.
Furthermore, there are numerous ongoing projects in various stages of development, experimenting with the application of AI in different domains. These initiatives are aimed at bolstering KBank’s transformation into an AI-First Banking institution, emphasizing KBTG’s pivotal role as an AI-First Company. This emphasis extends across strategic functions, Business Intelligence, IT Development and Operations, and the expansion of product development efforts. The overarching goal is to enhance organizational workflows, increase technological capabilities, and align with the AI-First vision across the board.
Almost every industry is expected to be impacted by the emergence of Synthetic AI, especially industries such as media, influencer marketing, entertainment, education, customer service (across all sectors), and logistics.
However, amidst this disruption, there are also opportunities. Ruangroj emphasized that to become an AI-First company, one must first adopt an AI-First mindset. It’s essential to recognize that AI is becoming a reality for everyone, and organizations have approximately two years to prepare.
The Generative AI bubble, which is at the top of the AI Hype pyramid, is expected to burst no later than 2024. After that, AI will enter the mainstream.
He explained that around 90% of startups in the Generative AI space worldwide are expected to falter by no later than 2024. This is because many of them ventured into areas where they lacked expertise, such as competing with major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others.
However, moving forward, the surviving startups and new entrants in this field will collaborate with business organizations in specialized industries to create AI solutions that address the Long-tail Problem. This refers to the myriad of small but significant challenges within specific industries. For example, in the semiconductor industry, which is complex, ancient, and highly specialized, there are vast amounts of data to tackle.
“Startups should collaborate with players in the industry to design processes with a deep understanding of the industry itself. This way, they can effectively apply AI technology to create tangible benefits,” said Ruangroj.
In the near future, a notable approach it will see in Let’s Get M.A.D. is AI startups partnering with real businesses across various industries, especially those considered unsexy, very dirty but highly profitable. These industries are particularly suitable for collaborative AI solutions that can address significant challenges within the sector, ultimately transforming these industries into AI-driven companies.
There are examples of AI startups that utilize data to make predictions and decisions in various industries. For instance, there’s a startup that uses 61,000 data points to forecast which flavor of beverages will be popular in the future.
Similarly, companies like Netflix leverage machine learning and data analytics to optimize their content selection. They analyze data with AI to determine if a particular show or movie will be popular and plan their production schedules accordingly.
Furthermore, they use AI-driven analysis to identify the key components necessary to make their next production trendsetting.
AI literacy is another crucial aspect of AI adoption. There will be a significant gap between those who understand and effectively use AI and those who do not. According to predictions from the World Economic Forum, there may be up to 400 million job displacements globally due to AI.
However, at the same time, it is also predicted that there will be the creation of 1 billion new jobs worldwide. This is because AI will lead to a large-scale repositioning of job roles.
Therefore, every country, organization, and individual should prepare themselves for this shift. They should equip themselves with AI literacy and ensure that their organizations and countries are ready to embrace this change rather than being left behind by it.
“Thailand and the Thai people must strive to survive and thrive in the AI era of the future. Let’s Get M.A.D. together,” said Ruangroj.
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