Artificial intelligence in the financial sector

It has been pleasure being guest author for the DIGIPRAKTIKER, Finanz Colloquium Heidelberg.

What role does the human factor play in times of exponential technological progress?

Author: Jochen Werne, Director Business Development, Product Management, Treasury and Payment Services at Bankhaus August Lenz & Co. AG

I. Introduction

The only constant in history was, is and remains change. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1450 was a milestone on the timeline of human development. Today we still take note of this invention, which was considered an innovation at that time, but we have long lived surrounded by smartphones and cloud applications, in which we can store the most private information and retrieve it from anywhere in the world. Today’s change is being driven by a veritable digital revolution.

Digital change already has fundamental consequences for individuals and their lifestyles, but it is developing its full potential when it comes to interacting with our social environment. In times of smart robotics and maturing systems in relation to artificial intelligence, the question arises again and again what role humans play on the stage of these technologies. Is he …

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A Banker with an (AI-)Mission / Part 2: “The New Now – Everybody Can Make a Difference”

Also in the second part of our interview we do not go directly into the technical aspects of the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Based on the question “How do you get all this under one roof?” we get a look at Jochen’s personal insights and points of view and at how each individual can counter the increasing autonomisation and the change of the working world and society through algorithms with a corresponding attitude.

Jochen Werne is full-time Director & Authorized Officer for Bankhaus August Lenz & Co. AG of the Mediolanum Banking Group and is responsible for Business Development, Marketing, Product Management, Treasury & B2B Payment Services. In addition, he is involved in the development of non-profit organizations and a member of the Learning Systems Platform of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The initiative www.wegofive.net addresses the question of how a unit of man and machine can be created in the working world of tomorrow and how algorithms can be seamlessly integrated into the organization in order to supplement the capabilities of employees.

As an independent interim manager, profile and team coach, Sascha Adam supports people, decision-makers and companies in actively shaping digital change.

More at www.wegofive.net/mission/about or www.sascha-adam.net.

Many thanks to the coast by east Hamburg in the Hafencity Hamburg for the permission to film here. A very recommendable location with obliging service, extraordinary menu and good drinks. Apropos, the background noises also give you the feeling of sitting directly with us 😉

Ein Banker mit einer (KI-)Mission / Teil 2: “Das neue Jetzt – Jeder kann etwas bewegen”

Auch in dem zweiten Teil unseres Interviews gehen wir nicht direkt auf die technischen Aspekte der Einführung von künstlicher Intelligenz ein. Ausgehend von der Frage “Wie bekommst Du das alles unter einen Hut?” bekommen wir einen Blick auf die persönlichen Erkenntnisse und Sichtweisen von Jochen und darauf wie jeder Einzelne mit einer entsprechenden Haltung der zunehmenden Autonomisierung und dem Wandel der Arbeitswelt und der Gesellschaft durch Algorithmen begegnen kann.

Jochen Werne ist hauptberuflich Director & Authorized Officer für das Bankhaus August Lenz & Co. AG der Mediolanum Banking Group und verantwortet dort die Bereiche Business Development, Marketing, Product Management, Treasury & B2B Payment Services. Darüberhinaus ist er am Aufbau gemeinnütziger Organisationen beteiligt und Mitglied der Plattform Lernende Systeme des Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. Die Initiative www.wegofive.net geht der Frage nach wie in der Arbeitswelt von morgen eine Einheit aus Mensch & Maschine geschaffen werden kann und sich Algorithmen nahtlos in die Organisation integrieren, um die Fähigkeiten der Mitarbeiter zu ergänzen.

Sascha Adam unterstützt als selbstständiger Interimsmanager, Profile- und Team-Coach Menschen, Entscheider und Unternehmen dabei den digitalen Wandel aktiv zu gestalten.

Mehr unter www.wegofive.net/mission/about oder www.sascha-adam.net

Ganz herzlichen Dank an das coast by east Hamburg in der Hafencity Hamburg für die Genehmigung hier filmen zu dürfen. Eine sehr zu empfehlende Location mit zuvorkommender Bedienung, außergewöhnlicher Speisekarte und guten Drinks. Apropos, die Hintergrundgeräusche geben einem auch gleich das Gefühl direkt bei uns zu sitzen 😉

Keynote announcement: International Banking Innovation Forum, Vienna

Banking Professionals are faced with many new challenges as PSD2 & Instant Payments in Europe at center stage which are driving automation and Innovations. It will be a great pleasure representing Bankhaus August Lenz with a keynote on the importance of the combination of all aspects of HUMAN, DIGITAL & CULTURE to create valuable business models for future banking. Looking forward joining other Top Industry Experts to tackle these topics with them.

Small talk with Siri, Alexa & Co.

What role does humans play in times of exponential technological developments and how does this influence our society?

Author: Jochen Werne / first published May 2019 @LinkedInPulse

Siri or Alexa? Who can offer us more help in our daily life? Who provides the better answers and leads the more eloquent conversation? A legitimate question, because both Smart Devices are now so technically mature that it is difficult to make a simple distinction. Alexa was only launched in November 2014 in the USA and at the end of October 2016 in Germany.

Our world is changing from analogue to digital. While the invention of the printing press in 1450 by Gutenberg was a true milestone on the timeline of human development, we now live surrounded by smartphones and cloud applications in which we can store, share and retrieve even the most private information from anywhere in the world. Smart support is omnipresent: Siri accompanies us through everyday life in the form of Apple products and Alexa awaits us – Amazon powered – with a familiar voice when we get home. The intelligent speech assistance systems are only one of many modern applications of Machine & Deep Learning technologies and are therefore more broadly defined by artificial intelligence. With the extremely dynamic and rapid development of smart robotics and learning systems, some people are asking themselves what role humans will play on the stage of these technologies in the future.

The emerging technological possibilities, like all technological achievements in the past, have an impact on our daily personal lives, but their potential unfolds when we consider this impact in a scaled way and when it comes to our society as a whole. The Tübingen professor of media science, Bernhard Pörksen, even speaks of the fact that we have long since been able to be described as a “digital society” – this change took place in an extremely short time and without us being prepared for it. As a result, we would first have to learn competences to understand our actions in this new digital world and also to learn how to deal with the resulting effects. The learning of these skills takes place at different speeds in the case of digitisation issues, even against a demographic background. In contrast to the digital natives of the 21st century, some parts of our population with fewer points of contact with digital media find it more difficult to deal with the challenges of new technological standards and to adapt to the changed conditions in the service sector. The efficiency of the technical possibilities that permeate all areas of our lives is impressive, but it is crucial for success in the service sector not to ignore one factor: human empathy. 

An example of this is the financial sector. Your own money is an issue that most people are most personally concerned about. However, plagued by fears of loss, personal biases and an extremely complex oversupply of investment alternatives, many investors seek personal support that goes beyond enumerating facts. We are talking about human support and empathic accompaniment, which machines (so far) have not been able to provide. A service that ideally covers not only the technical aspects of financial consulting, but also the behavioural finance aspects.

Undoubtedly there are already developments like Google Assist, in which attempts are made to incorporate empathic components into the developments, but the ability of the machines to simulate emotions and accordingly cause emotional reactions in humans (still) reaches its limits.

The upcoming technological developments will help us to solve many hitherto unsolvable problems in e.g. medicine, in environments hostile to humans or in a World Food Programme in a relatively short time. But as always with new technologies, it is also important to limit the abusive possibilities of use and to educate population that have little contact with modern instruments and technologies, because otherwise there is the danger of creating a feeling of inequality, which in turn can lead in extreme cases to a division of society. The desired progress would thus be reversed into its opposite: a step backwards based on a lack of communication at the micro and macro levels. 

“It will certainly be our task in the future to ensure that developments in technological progress, artificial intelligence and the role of man go hand in hand. To advance optimizations through technology and digitization, as well as a parallel enlightenment of the individual with regard to his uniqueness in relation to technological development, as well as his social responsibility in this context.” 

Jochen Werne

The following comparison should simplify the problem between strengths and limitations of automated systems: In 2012 an autopilot would probably not have let the Costa Concordia collide with a rock – the reason was human, emotionally driven behaviour. But an autopilot could not have landed an Airbus 320 on the Hudson River in 2009 either. This required human experience and spontaneous creativity. Something that our brain can do, but that still allows the technical possibilities of AI to reach hard limits for the foreseeable future.

It remains to be said that smart devices like Alexa and Siri provide valuable support and even provide entertainment with the increasingly mature question-and-answer game. We can ask the digital companions anything. We also get – within the scope of technical possibilities – a cheeky answer. But we have to deal with the extent to which these answers provide us with what we expect, also on an emotional basis. Because our expectations often go beyond a technical answer. 

More in-depth insights on this topic can be found, for example, at the Platform for Learning Systems (https://www.plattform-lernende-systeme.de/home.html ).

German Stevies committee is awarding innovations and human creativity

The German Stevie Awards are a top-class business award for the German business world. Outstanding achievements are rewarded in over 80 different categories: from Manager of the Year in over 30 industries, to Marketing Campaign of the Year, to Product of the Year, and more.

It’s greatly inspiring seeing the different approaches companies are going to be innovative and a step ahead of their competition in a highly dynamic business environment

Jochen Werne
German Stevie Awards Jury Member
Management & Human Ressources


Jury member Jochen Werne about the importance of the human factor in a digital world

Human. Digital. Culture. Our life in times of exponential technologies

16 January 2019 – Author: Jochen Werne

Almost every day, experts in the media try to create a historical analogy for us in order to explain the dynamics and speed with which changes are taking place today at all levels of our lives – from private consumption and our working world to international politics. Often analogies are drawn to different decades of the 20th century. The prominent British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson contradicts these comparisons and sees an analogy rather in the effects that the invention of the printing press in the 15th century had on our lives and on our society. Only that today the changes due to exponential technologies and the Internet take place much faster.

For us as the HUMAN Factor, these comparisons are incredibly important. In times of uncertainty, they help us to better assess the changes and thus at least maintain a certain reassuring feeling of security and explainability. However, if we do not succeed in setting the right filters in times of social media and “information overload”, we run the risk that this feeling of understanding does not materialize and that we all too easily become victims of supposedly simple explanations and “fake news”. Ferguson uses a striking example to illustrate that this is not a new phenomenon and that serious technological changes have also brought major and often turbulent changes to society. In times of the invention of book printing, knowledge was spread more cheaply and a broad part of the population gained access to higher education. One of the first books to be printed in large numbers was the Bible. But also other writings, like “Malleus Maleficarum” or in English the “Hammer of Witches” became famous. The “Fake News” book served to justify the persecution of witches, appeared in 29 editions and has been second place on the book bestseller list for 200 years.

At the latest since the end of the 1990s, since the mass “democratization” of the Internet, our lives have been shaped by the exponential progress of modern technologies. The associated digitalization – the DIGITAL Factor – is not only a technical and economic challenge, but also a societal one. However, the enlightened man began, not to accept everything that a “Beautiful New World”, sometimes reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s novel, promises. This is shown by citizen projects such as the so-called “Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights” of the European Union.

The word “exponential” automatically hides the logical conclusion that change will take place even faster in the future. These changes affect almost every industry and what is seen today as a billion-dollar future market can quickly become a basic business with significantly lower costs and thus significantly lower profit margins tomorrow. The camera chip of our smartphones costs today only about two to three Euros, a Spotify subscription, and thus the access to an incredible amount of music, only a few Euros a month.

The conclusion for companies in the 21st century is simple: Those who do not understand these exponential dynamics of technical development or do not take them sufficiently into account in their business model can quickly lose touch – not only with customers but also with potential business partners. But why is it so difficult for us to correctly assess the development potential of the technologies? The answer: People think linearly. This is why technologies are usually overestimated at the beginning of their development, but tend to be underestimated in the long run. This was first described in 1965 by the Intel engineer Gordon Moore – later known as Moore´s Law, one of the essential theoretical foundations of the “digital revolution”. In times of exponential technologies, our society risks a split between the group of people with an affinity for digital and digital natives and a group of people who have growing difficulties with the speed of change of our time. The latter have not learnt to keep pace with fast-moving digital innovations due to their low affinity, age or lack of points of contact in everyday life.

Throughout history, new technological possibilities have always come with threatening concepts that have been published and discussed on all media channels available during this period. Today it is: “total transparency”, “transparent consumer”, “constant availability” or even job loss due to ongoing automation and artificial intelligence. At the social and state level, attempts are being made to counteract such fears, to increase competitiveness and to involve the population in the process of change. Two of the many good examples referring to Germany are the strategy on artificial intelligence put in place by the Federal Government and the Platform for Learning Systems initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

It is important never to forget, that every change – even if the trigger is a rapidly developing technology – requires a certain time horizon to be implemented and to create broad acceptance. Here the “CULTURE Factor” often comes into play. One example is cash. While the Scandinavian countries, above all Sweden, are about to digitalize their payment systems to a large extent, in Germany currently about 80 percent of all transactions are carried out with cash.

In every business model, global trends need to be identified, changes need to be driven, and local conditions need to be taken into account in order to be successful in this market. The same formula applies to societal change. Especially when it comes to creating an agenda for the use of new technologies for the benefit of our society.

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Photo from Niall Ferguson and Peter Robinson discuss networks and hierarchies throughout history in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge. Quote from the New York Times article “‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It” by David Streitfeld

Human. Digital. Culture. Unser Leben in Zeiten exponentieller Technologien

16. Januar 2019 – Autor: Jochen Werne

Fast täglich wird von Experten in den Medien versucht für uns eine geschichtliche Analogie herzustellen, um die Dynamik und Geschwindigkeit zu erklären, mit der sich heute Veränderungen auf allen Ebenen unseres Lebens – vom privaten Konsum, unserer Arbeitswelt bis hin zu internationaler Politik – vollziehen. Oftmals werden hierfür Vergleiche zu den 1930ern oder 70ern gezogen. Der bekannte britische Historiker und Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson widerspricht diesen Vergleichen und sieht eine Analogie vielmehr in den Effekten, die die Erfindung der Druckerpresse im 15. Jahrhundert auf unser Leben und auf unsere Gesellschaft hatte. Nur, dass sich heute die Veränderungen durch exponentielle Technologien und das Internet wesentlich schneller vollziehen. Für uns Menschen – also den HUMAN Factor – sind diese Vergleiche unglaublich wichtig. Sie helfen uns in Zeiten der Unsicherheit, die Veränderungen besser einschätzen zu können und somit zumindest ein gewisses beruhigendes Gefühl der Sicherheit und Erklärbarkeit zu erhalten. Wenn es uns jedoch nicht gelingt in Zeiten von Social Media und medialem „information overload“ die richtigen Filter zu setzen, laufen wir Gefahr, dass sich dieses Gefühl des Verständnisses nicht einstellt und wir allzu leicht Opfer vermeintlich einfacher Erklärungen und „Fake News“ werden. Dass dies kein neues Phänomen ist und gravierende technologische Veränderungen auch große und oftmals turbulente Veränderungen auf die Gesellschaft mit sich brachten, macht Ferguson an einem prägnanten Beispiel fest. In Zeiten der Erfindung des Buchdrucks kam es zu einer  kostengünstigeren Verbreitung von Wissen und somit zur Möglichkeit, dass breite Bevölkerungsschichten Zugang zu höherer Bildung erlangten. Eines der ersten in großer Auflage gedruckten Werke war die Bibel. Doch erlangten auch andere Schriften, wie „Malleus Maleficarum“ oder zu deutsch der Hexenhammer Berühmtheit. Das eindeutige „Fake News Werk“ diente zur Rechtfertigung der Hexenverfolgung, erschien in 29 Auflagen und belegte für immerhin 200 Jahre den zweiten Platz der Bücherbestsellerliste. 

Spätestens seit Ende der 90er Jahre, seit der massenhaften „Demokratisierung“ des Internets, ist unser aller Leben durch den exponentiellen Fortschritt moderner Technologien geprägt. Die damit einhergehende Digitalisierung – also der DIGITAL Factor – ist nicht nur eine technische und ökonomische Herausforderung, sondern vor allem auch eine gesellschaftliche. Dass der aufgeklärte Mensch jedoch beginnt, nicht alles einfach unreflektiert hinzunehmen, was eine an Aldous Huxley erinnernde „Schöne neue Welt“ zu versprechen scheint, zeigen Bürgerprojekte, wie die sogenannte „Charta der Digitalen Grundrechte“ der Europäischen Union. 

Bereits im Wort „exponentiell“ verbirgt sich automatisch die logische Schlussfolgerung, dass sich Veränderungen in Zukunft noch schneller vollziehen werden. Diese Veränderungen betreffen nahezu jede Branche und was heute ein milliardenschwerer Zukunftsmarkt ist,kann morgen schnell zu einem Basisgeschäft mit deutlich geringeren Kosten und somit auch deutlich geringeren Gewinnmargen werden. Der Kamera-Chip unserer Smartphones kostet heute nur noch rund zwei bis drei Euro, ein Spotify-Abo, und somit der Zugriff auf eine unfassbar große Menge an Musik, nur wenige Euro im Monat. 

Die Schlussfolgerung für Unternehmen im 21. Jahrhundert ist sichtlich einfach: Wer diese exponentiellen Dynamiken von technischer Entwicklung nicht versteht oder nicht ausreichend in seinem Geschäftsmodell berücksichtigt, kann schnell den Anschluss verlieren – Anschluss an Kunden aber auch an potenzielle Geschäftspartner. 

Doch warum fällt es uns so schwer, das Entwicklungspotenzial der Technologien richtig einzuschätzen? Die Antwort: Menschen denken linear. Deswegen werden Technologien zu Beginn der Entwicklung meist überschätzt, langfristig aber tendenziell unterschätzt. Dies wurde 1965 durch den Intel Ingenieur Gordon Moore erstmals beschrieben – später bekannt als Moore´s Law, einer der wesentlichen Theoriegrundlagen der „digitalen Revolution“. 

Unsere Gesellschaft lebt in Zeiten exponentieller Technologien natürlich auch mit der Gefahr einer Spaltung zwischen der Gruppe digital affiner Bevölkerungsschichten und Digital Natives sowie einer Gruppe von Menschen, die wachsende Schwierigkeiten mit der Veränderungsgeschwindigkeit unserer Zeit hat. Letztere haben aufgrund geringer Affinität, teilweise des Alters oder fehlender Berührungspunkte im Alltag nicht gelernt, mit den schnelllebigen digitalen Innovationen Schritt zu halten. Mit allen technischen Möglichkeiten geistern zudem Begrifflichkeiten durch die Medien, die vielen Sorgen bereiten und Ängste schüren: „Totale Transparenz“, „gläserner Konsument“, „ständige Verfügbarkeit“ oder gar Arbeitsplatzverlust aufgrund anhaltender Automatisierung und Artificial Intelligence. Auf gesellschaftlicher und staatlicher Ebene wird versucht solchen Ängsten entgegenzuwirken, Konkurrenzfähigkeit zu steigern und die eigene Bevölkerung in den  Veränderungsprozess miteinzubeziehen. Zwei der vielen guten Beispiele in Deutschland hierfür sind, die von der Bundesregierung verabschiedete Strategie zu Künstlicher Intelligenz oder die vom BMBF initiierte Plattform für Lernende Systeme.                  

Es gilt bei jeder Veränderung – sei der Auslöser auch eine sich schnell entwickelnde Technologie – nie zu vergessen, dass es einem zeitlichen Horizont bedarf um Neues zu implementieren und eine breite Akzeptanz zu schaffen. Hier kommt der „CULTURE Factor“ oftmals ins Spiel. Ein Beispiel ist Bargeld. Während die skandinavischen Länder, allen voran Schweden, davor stehen ihre Bezahlsysteme weitgehend zu digitalisieren, werden in Deutschland aktuell noch rund 80 Prozent aller Transaktionen mit Bargeld durchgeführt. Es gilt also in jedem Geschäftsmodell globale Trends zu erkennen, Veränderungen zu treiben, jedoch auch lokale Gegebenheiten zu berücksichtigen, um in diesem Markt erfolgreich zu sein. Dieselbe Formel gilt für unsere gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen und das Ziel neue Technologien zum Guten für unsere Gesellschaft einsetzen zu können.