Paul Milloy, Business Consultant at Intradiem explores the top AI-enabled automation trends businesses should be aware of in 2024.
Welcome to the future of automation, where artificial intelligence (AI) takes centre stage in redefining how we work and live.
This year, AI-powered automation tools will be more affordable and accessible, integrated into everyday apps. This will lead to increased adoption by consumers and businesses everywhere.
These trends are not just about streamlining processes; they’re about ushering in a new automation-led era of efficiency and new possibilities, where machines and algorithms work in harmony with human ingenuity to provide enhanced personalised experiences. Here are five of the biggest trends in AI-enabled automation we can expect to see this year:
- Greater collaboration between humans and AI
Despite the latest development in artificial intelligence aiming for broader reasoning, creativity and decisioning making abilities, they are still far from replicating human excellence. AI is not meant to replace humans, but rather enhance our capabilities. In the coming months, we can expect to see more humans and AI working together to create new products, services and experiences. Taking this further, AI will play an integral role in professional and personal growth for humans, which will involve providing customised insights.
During this era of stark attrition and heightened skills scarcity[i], taking care of people is undeniably important. With the assistance of automation, this support can consist of tailored messaging and coaching suggestions, empowering individuals to strive for their full potential.
As a result, employees will actively participate and engage in ways that meet their unique needs, leading to improved retention and performance for the entire business. Through this collaboration, the existing workplace will be reimagined to place AI as an insightful ally, helping each employee not just survive but thrive.
To make this a reality, businesses may need to consider restructuring or offering new training and measures that reinforce understanding on the parameters and benefits of an AI-human partnership.
On a broader scale, the rise of ‘AI assistants’ may lead to the need for more accessibility in the form devices that put “AI in your pocket”, either as part of existing mobile device upgrade or a new kind of device!
- AI-powered decision making
The landscape of AI-powered decision-making will expand drastically. Beyond crunching numbers and filling out spreadsheets, AI will become a trusted advisor in our strategic and day-to-day decisions.
In doing so, this will influence employee welfare too[ii]. From recruitment and onboarding to employee support, AI will be on hand to ensure we have a flourishing workforce. Emerging tools now offer insights on employee wellbeing, burnout risks, even forecasting attrition and absence likelihoods, which trigger appropriate interventions to support supervisors and managers across hybrid work environments.
Within a contact centre, using advanced insights into burnout patterns helps supervisors allocate time and resources more effectively. This means they can focus on helping agents who need it most, resulting in higher productivity for everyone. In the year ahead, more businesses will need to lean into using these advanced insights to get ahead of the potentially devasting attrition curve.
Along this journey, AI’s role won’t be just about making choices, it’s about deepening understanding and unveiling opportunities for growth. Unlocking this will require two key considerations from leaders.
Firstly, consider ethical AI deployment and integration into your organisation. Some suggest appointing ‘Chief AI Officers’ for control, while others advocate for safety, compliance, and privacy tools.
Secondly, think about how you can achieve the balance between human welfare and technological advancements especially as these move into mission-critical areas of the business.
The answer lies in putting people at the forefront of decision-making and questioning whether the technology will actually help them. And finally work with transparent partners who provide evidence of actual return on investment which will be realised.
- AI-powered customer service
While AI has been steadily assisting in customer service tasks for years, very soon the latest AI-powered chatbots will surpass their predecessors. Within customer service, this magnified capability will free up human agents to focus on more intricate interactions.
From customers and agents to managers and business leaders, this advancement will benefit everyone. Agents will receive real-time assistance from AI “digital assistants” drawing on vast data and knowledge sources. The emergence of Hybrid AIiv will see AI models act as the brain that interprets what the user wants. They are trained on highly proprietary data, maintaining levels control, and providing easily understandable and actionable suggestions. On the other hand, customers will enjoy more personalised experience through AI tailored strategies.
In these moments, responsible AI deployment will be essential. As we’ve seen with the emergence of the EU AI Act[iii], discussion surrounding accountable AI innovation will be rife this year. And these conversations can lead to collaborative efforts among businesses, government bodies and independent entities to set industry standards, ensuring consumers protection as AI becomes more pervasive in daily products and services.
- Greater use of AI to automate complex tasks
The sophistication of AI has grown at an exponential rate, meaning it can now automate increasingly complex tasks. For example, AI adoption streamlines processes in customer service, using multimodal capabilities that combine various data types (image, text, speech, numerical data) with intelligent processing algorithms for broader application. It’s taking charge of tasks like claims processing, overseeing application workflows and even identifying and crafting responses to customer complaints.
In the next stage of this evolution, we can expect to see AI being used to automate further complex tasks, such as predictive customer support and real-time multilingual assistance, as well as fraud detection and prevention. Yet, reaching this point won’t be completely smooth sailing.
Businesses will need to balance adopting AI for a competitive edge with handling its unexpected risks, such as the generation of inaccurate information. However, correct integration, well-trained systems and regular reviews of the processes can help minimise risks.
- The rise of AI-powered automation as a service (AaaS)
With ongoing scrutiny of already dwindling budgets, automation as a service (AaaS) is set to continue making it easier for businesses to adopt AI-powered automation in multiple ways.
AaaS is a subscription-based model that allows businesses to access AI-powered automation tools without having to heavily invest in their infrastructure. This model offers advantages like expert guidance to avoid implementation pitfalls, reduced spending and industry specific adaptations.
For example, a business may use AaaS to streamline the roll out of updated company messaging. This means as new information arises, AI-powered automation can assess an employee’s workload and alert them to review the new company materials during quieter periods.
Over the next 12 months, AI-enabled automation will continue changing our lives. Whether it’s developing a partnership based on human ingenuity and technology or elevating abilities and experiences, AI-powered automation will boost productivity, efficiency and available opportunities throughout the business environment.
With 49 per cent of business leaders expecting AI to impact their bottom line in 2024, and an additional 36 per cent set to agree by 2029[iv], here’s to an AI-enabled 2024!
 Oxford Learning College: https://www.oxfordcollege.ac/news/skills-gap-statistics-uk/#:~:text=Digital%20and%20technology%20skills%20gap%20statistics&text=Data%20shows%20that%20over%20a,pay%2C%20promotions%20and%20career%20progression.
5 Channel-Impacting AI Predictions for 2024 : https://realize.icertis.com/the-future-of-generative-ai/
Social Engineering Tactics Are Evolving, Enterprises Must Keep Pace to Mitigate
By Jack Garnsey, Subject Matter Expert – Email Security, VIPRE Security Group
Social engineering attacks by cyber criminals are not only relentless, but they are rapidly evolving with new tactics being deployed too. However, phishing remains the preferred social engineering tactic. This is demonstrated by research that has processed nearly two billion emails. Of these, 233.9 million emails were malicious – showing that cybercriminals are increasingly adopting foul links that require ever more investigation to uncover. This is possibly because current signature-based investigation tools are now so effective and ubiquitous that threat actors are forced to either engineer a way around them or get caught.
Furthermore, the research detects these malicious emails due to content (110 million) and due to links (118 million) – almost evenly split between these. Following content and links, malicious emails were also discovered due to attachments, standing at 5.44 million.
Common approaches to social engineering
Criminals are using all manner of approaches for social engineering. They are using spam emails to fraud, especially business email compromise. With the use of AI technology such as ChatGPT and others, phishing emails are becoming even harder for people to identify. The tell-tale signs of poor sentence construction, spelling mistakes, lack of subject context and so on, no longer exist.
PDF attachments as an attack vector is gaining favour with criminals. Majority of devices and operating systems today have an integrated PDF reader. This universal compatibility across all platforms makes it an ideal weapon of choice for attackers looking to cast a wide net. One reason is because malicious hackers can make us think that there’s payment-related information inside. Once opened, the PDF potentially contains a link to a malicious page or releases malware on to the PC. Criminals are using malicious PDFs as a vehicle for QR codes too.
Stealing passwords is another commonplace phishing technique. Many of us will recognise emails urgently alerting us to update the password for the applications we use on a daily basis in our professional and personal lives. An example is a password update request from Microsoft – “Your Microsoft Office 365 password is set to expire today. Immediate action required – change or keep your current password.” In fact, Microsoft was the most spoofed name in Q3 of 2023.
Heard of callback phishing? Cybercriminals send an email to an unsuspecting employee, posing as a service or product provider. Instilling urgency, these emails prompt the individual to “call back” on a phone number. So, when the user calls them, they are duped out of their information over the phone, or they are given “sign in” links to verify information and end up losing sensitive data in the process. The absence of malicious files within the content of either the email or attachments makes it easier to slip past the radar and evade detection.
A relatively new trend that is gaining momentum is the utilisation of LinkedIn Slink for URL redirection. To allow its platform users to better promote their own ads or websites, LinkedIn introduced LinkedIn Slink (“smart link”). This “clean” LinkedIn URL enables users to redirect traffic directly to external websites while more easily tracking their ad campaigns. Clearly a useful feature, the problem is that these types of links slip through the net of many security protocols and so have become a favourite of social engineers.
Education, education, education
All hands on deck, the saying goes! In that vein, a comprehensive strategy is needed to ensure protection – from timely patching, archiving or backing up data, monitoring and auditing access controls and penetration testing through to properly configuring and monitoring email gateways and firewalls and phishing simulations.
However, underpinning all this must be regular security education and awareness training to ensure that employees are always up-to-date on knowledge and vigilant against the newest social engineering techniques that criminals are deploying to fraud them with. It helps to embed a cybersecurity conscious culture and security-first attitude in the workplace.
A key focus of the education and training programme must be on motivating employees to take an active role in threat detection and protection. Good cyber hygiene knowledge is about giving employees peace of mind that their organisation and job are secure, but also that they have the knowledge to protect their friends and loved ones.
Employees need regular training reinforcement throughout the year if they are to be expected to remember and apply best practices over this time. Single, annual courses or classroom sessions are not sufficient given that people forget training shortly after these sessions. If adult learning best practices and techniques, such as spaced learning, are not implemented as part of a security awareness training program, then it will not succeed.
Additionally, targeted training must be designed for role types – far too often, a broad-brush approach to cyber training and education is undertaken, making it a tick-box exercise. For example, a company’s risk and compliance team needs cyber training that takes into account the demands of regulatory bodies, business development teams need to know all about incident reporting, the product development department must be trained on how best to secure the software supply chain, security teams must be trained on advances in threat detection, end users must understand how to spot a phishing email or deepfake, and so forth. Training that is tailored specially for business leaders is equally important.
There is no end in sight when it comes to social engineering attacks. End users of technology are constantly under attack, vigilance supported by security education and knowledge to help intuitively spot social engineering is a critical defence – be that in the form of deceitful emails, malicious QR codes and links, or any other such techniques.
Navigating the Ethical Landscape: A Guide for Small Businesses Embracing AI Technologies
By Stefano Maifreni, COO and founder of Eggcelerate
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have revolutionised how businesses operate, offering countless benefits and opportunities for growth. From streamlining processes to improving customer experiences, AI has become an essential tool for small businesses. However, with these advancements come ethical challenges that must be addressed. This article will explore the ethical maze small companies face when leveraging AI technologies. We will delve into the key considerations they need to make to ensure they make ethical choices and maintain transparency throughout the process.
Ethical Considerations in AI Implementation
Embracing AI technologies responsibly can bring numerous benefits to small businesses. AI can automate repetitive tasks, freeing time for employees to focus on more complex and creative work. It can also enhance decision-making processes by analysing large amounts of data and generating valuable insights. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can improve customer service, providing prompt and personalised support. By adopting AI technologies responsibly, small businesses can increase efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Ethical AI refers to the responsible and unbiased use of artificial intelligence technologies. It involves ensuring that AI systems are designed and deployed in a manner that respects human values, privacy, and fairness. Ethical AI also emphasises transparency and accountability, making it crucial for small businesses to align their AI practices with ethical principles.
When implementing AI technologies, small business owners must consider various ethical factors. One crucial consideration is the potential bias in AI algorithms. Machine learning models are trained on historical data, which can unintentionally reflect societal biases. Small businesses should ensure that their AI systems are audited and monitored for fairness. They should also strive to diversify their data sources to minimise biased outcomes and be transparent about their algorithmic decision-making processes.
Data privacy is another significant ethical concern. Small businesses must handle customer data with utmost care, ensuring it is collected and used in compliance with relevant regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Businesses should obtain informed consent from users, clearly communicate how their data will be used, and implement robust security measures to safeguard sensitive information. Prioritising data privacy builds customer trust and demonstrates a commitment to ethical practices.
Transparency in AI decision-making is also crucial. Small businesses should communicate when AI is utilised and explain automated decisions whenever possible. This transparency helps build customer trust and ensures that AI is not perceived as a black box but as a tool that operates ethically and aligns with the business’s values.
Balancing Automation with Human Touch: Ensuring Ethical AI Practices
Small business owners should follow certain best practices to embrace AI technologies responsibly. Firstly, they should conduct a thorough ethical analysis before implementing any AI system. This analysis involves identifying potential risks and biases and considering the impact on stakeholders.
While AI provides automation and efficiency, balancing technology and the human touch is essential. Small businesses should consider the impact of AI on their workforce and ensure that AI systems do not replace employees but rather support them. It can involve upskilling employees to work collaboratively with AI technologies or reallocating resources to more meaningful tasks that require human ingenuity and empathy.
Small businesses should also establish clear guidelines and policies for AI usage, ensuring that employees understand the expected ethical standards.
Regular and ongoing training is crucial for employees involved in AI implementation. It ensures they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate the ethical complexities of AI. Small businesses should also encourage a culture of transparency and accountability, where employees feel comfortable raising ethical concerns and discussing potential biases or risks associated with AI technologies.
Building Trust and Transparency with Customers through Ethical AI
Ethical AI practices play a significant role in building trust and transparency with customers. Small businesses should communicate their AI usage and data practices to customers in a clear and accessible manner through privacy policies, consent forms, and public statements that outline the steps taken to protect customer data and ensure ethical AI practices.
Additionally, small businesses should be responsive to customer concerns and feedback related to AI technologies. Addressing customer questions and providing mechanisms for redress decisions can foster trust and demonstrate a commitment to ethical practices. Small businesses can differentiate themselves in the market by prioritising transparency and building long-lasting customer relationships.
Resources for Small Business Owners to Learn About Ethical AI
To navigate the ethical complexities of AI, small business owners can access various resources. Online courses and tutorials, such as those offered by universities and technology companies, provide valuable insights into ethical AI practices. Industry-specific conferences and webinars offer opportunities to learn from experts and share experiences with other small business owners.
Furthermore, engaging with professional organisations and communities focused on ethical AI can provide a supportive network for small business owners. These communities often offer forums for discussion, access to research papers, and guidance on best practices. By actively seeking out resources and staying updated on the latest developments in ethical AI, small business owners can make informed decisions and drive positive change within their organisations.
Conclusion: Embracing Ethical AI for a Sustainable Future
As AI technologies continue to evolve, small businesses must navigate the ethical maze to embrace these technologies responsibly. By understanding the ethical implications of AI algorithms, prioritising data privacy, and following best practices, small businesses can leverage AI to drive growth and innovation while maintaining transparency and accountability.
Building trust and transparency with customers through ethical AI practices is essential for small businesses to succeed in the long run. Small business owners can ensure they are making ethical choices and fostering a sustainable future by considering the impact on stakeholders, balancing automation with the human touch, and integrating ethics into AI-driven decision-making.
With the right mindset, resources, and commitment to ethical AI, small businesses can embrace AI technologies’ potential and become ethical leaders in their respective industries. Let us navigate the ethical maze together and unlock the true potential of AI for a better future.
Top four compliance trends to watch in 2024
Robert Houghton, founder and CTO at Insightful Technology, discusses the top trends financial institutions should look out for in 2024
As financial institutions gear up for the next 12 months, it’s time to reflect on the key trends and developments, considering how they’ll shape the year ahead. While the financial landscape is constantly evolving, we believe there are four important issues that will shape 2024:
- AI-powered compliance
AI and automation are the buzzwords of the year, significantly changing our work landscape and set to transform our economy and social norms.
Take generative AI. It’s a game-changer for financial institutions in streamlining and securing compliance processes. Imagine a trading floor where every call and message is monitored. Certain phrases or words will trigger an automated alert to the compliance team.
These alerts are typically sorted into three tiers of concern. A low-level alert might be triggered by a trader swearing in a conversation. These are common occurrences that result in hundreds of daily alerts, usually reviewed manually by offshore companies. This traditional review process is time consuming, open to mistakes and inconsistent.
Enter generative AI, with its dual capabilities. Firstly, it can spot the misdemeanour in real-time. Secondly, it can understand the context to see what risk it poses. If someone swore, perhaps because they were quoting a strongly worded news story, it’s not a risk. Generative AI can tell the difference between that and someone using bad language in anger, thereby reducing false positives.
In the coming year, financial institutions will look at how these AI and automated decision-making processes can be explained, recorded and saved. However, it can’t be a “black box” that holds the fate of a trader within. By creating an audit-friendly trail, businesses will improve their chances of avoiding regulator penalties.
- A smarter monitoring for the hybrid era
In today’s work-anywhere culture, monitoring employees in regulated sectors like finance is key to managing risk.
But it shouldn’t turn into a nine-to-five spying game. It’s a mistake to treat remote work as if it mirrors an office setting; this can damage trust. Instead, monitoring should aim to understand work patterns, just like a heart monitor detects irregularities, signalling when the compliance team should take notice.
In the shadow of US banks facing over $2 billion in fines for unchecked use of private messaging and personal devices[i] – with the SEC imposing a $125 million penalty earlier this year[ii] – the UK’s financial sector is on alert. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is already looking into the matter and questioning banks about their use of private messaging, as the watchdog decides whether to launch a full probe.
Financial firms must be proactive and ensure their Risk Review includes the provision to document all comms channels used by those personnel affected. From there clearly documented policies can be presented to the regulator. Ensuring review of those policies are adhered to is an important part of the process. They need to maintain a delicate balance between productivity, employee wellbeing and strict adherence to regulations in the hybrid work era.
- A demand for transparency
In 2023, the banking sector was shaken by a wave of raids on giants like Société Générale, BNP Paribas and HSBC, as part of a large tax fraud probe in Europe[iii]. Over $1 billion in fines looms as the industry, still shaky from significant bank failures[iv], faces a heightened demand for transparency.
Investigations into banks are essential when there’s evidence of criminal conduct, but they must be conducted with care. Raids can expose vast amounts of sensitive data, affecting not just the banks but numerous customers. Authorities should focus only on specific accounts with clear signs of foul play rather than casting a wide net.
The Paris raids, in particular, were an alarming example of the vulnerability of personal information, with hundreds of thousands of accounts indiscriminately scrutinised. These raids have set a dangerous standard where privacy is secondary.
As we approach next year, the financial sector must grapple with this double-edged sword: pursuing fraudsters while safeguarding individual privacy. The presumption of guilt will remain rife in the financial sector, however this will be partnered with a call for institutions and regulators to be more transparent with their activity.
- A one source advantage
As the stakes for non-compliance get higher and regulators scrutinise financial firms more closely, institutions will need to have a more comprehensive and centralised approach to data integrity, management, access and risk management. This includes creating ‘one source’ of data, which is a single, authoritative source of truth that can be used for risk analysis, proof of adherence to policy, reporting, analysis, and compliance.
Currently, many banks have a patchwork of data silos, which are collections of information that are not easily accessible to the bank because they are recorded or stored differently. This makes it difficult for banks to get a complete picture of their data and to comply with regulations.
Historically, this would have required a significant investment in time and resources. Now, modern solutions simplify this process, offering a more efficient path. In the long run, having a single source of data will help banks reduce costs, improve compliance and make better decisions. For those who continue to turn a blind eye to this issue will face financial penalties, operational risks, and irreparable reputational damage.
Overall, it’s safe to say that 2024 will continue to prove the need to strike a balance between technology and people in a bid for demonstratable compliance. As financial institutions prepare, they must consider their position on the work-anywhere spectrum, and how the combination of AI, automation, transparency and leadership can ensure they’re living by the letter of the law next year.
Roll on 2024!