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Societe Generale accelerates data and artificial intelligence strategy

French investment banking giant increases its focus on data and artificial intelligence as digital transformation matures

Societe Generale (SocGen) is increasing its focus on becoming more data driven, with increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) for the benefit of customers, regulators and staff.

By using AI, the French investment bank wants to make existing business models more efficient and effective, while also creating new ones.

It already has huge human resources in place, with 1,000 data experts and 65 chief data officers managing 330 AI and data use cases across the business. Of these, 170 are in AI, such as facial and biometric recognition functionality, automatic credit ratings and analysis tools for market activities.

“SocGen has been engaged in a cultural and technological transformation for many years and has laid the necessary key technological and cultural foundation to reinforce its digital maturity in all the group’s businesses, functions and geographies,” said Frédéric Oudéa, CEO of the bank.

“The increased and responsible use of data, notably with AI, is a strategic asset on which SocGen is continuing to capitalise to adapt and improve its existing distribution and production models, but also to invent and develop new alternative business models. Becoming a data-driven bank, with a responsible use of data, is at the heart of our strategic agenda,” he added.

SocGen said the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated digital transformation and changed the use of AI and data in the finance sector.

“Becoming a data-driven bank, with a responsible use of data, is at the heart of our strategic agenda”
Frédéric Oudéa, Societe Generale

It said AI and data technologies are used in four main areas: the creation of personalised customer products and services through customisation; improving responsiveness through being able to understand what customers are requesting through all channels; automating to increase operational efficiency; and enabling it to control risk through better detection.

The bank has already built a hybrid data lake, which uses public and private cloud infrastructures, and is using tools to improve data quality and allow appropriate access and sharing across the banking group.

SocGen’s cloud-first strategy, first implemented in 2017, has allowed the company to accelerate its digital developments. By the end of 2020, 80% of its servers were cloud-based. It will increase its cloud use further to take advantage of further automation and security.

The bank is also ensuring that it takes its people on the journey with a cultural revolution. To this end, there will be support for staff in the phase of changing business models. Nearly 5,000 staff in 25 countries will be trained in less than a year.

The company said its management team would take part in a programme to “foster an in-depth understanding of AI and its implications to develop the ability to make strategic, data-driven decisions”.

SocGen is also deploying a reskilling programme to help staff train in new professions. 

Read more about Societe Generale

  • SocGen merges two of its French retail brands to cut costs and enable it to focus on a single IT system.
  • SocGen says relocation software is helping it to attract talented employees.
  • The rogue trader who cost SocGen £3.6bn has been accused of using computer hacking techniques.

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