Technology

Societe Generale focuses on data and artificial intelligence

Almost 62% of Societe Generale’s European retail clients today regularly use digital channels to access their banking services and conduct day-to-day operations. This figure, which has been increasing for 18 months during the Covid period, is the tree that hides the forest of the digital transformation initiated by the group in 2017.

The digital appetite of customers, both individuals and professionals, and the need to adapt to the competition, lead the company towards a strategy “based on data”, where the use of data becomes central to create new services, improving the at the same time what already exists and transforming businesses and processes in depth.

On the occasion of its Techweek, Societe Generale takes stock of its ambitions in terms of data and artificial intelligence (AI). Globally, the company says it has implemented 330 mature use cases, 170 of which are based on artificial intelligence. According to group officials, these go-to-production use cases should generate about 230 million euros by the end of 2021.

A second generation cloud

“We have come a long way to build a more adequate technological base and we have changed the IT infrastructures, with more flexible and modular applications. But there is still a lot to do in the use of data, ”said Frédéric Oudéa, CEO of Societe Generale, during a press conference.

The group intends to continue until 2025 its first cloud strategy started in 2017 based on a hybrid model. To support this transformation, the group has created data warehouses and placed some of its data in the public cloud. By the end of 2020, 80% of the servers were hosted in the combined 1st and 2nd generation cloud. By 2025, Societe Generale wants 75% of its cloud to be second generation, that is, based on PaaS platforms.

“The idea is to redirect all of our applications to the second generation internal cloud or the public cloud,” says Christophe Leblanc, director of resources and digital transformation. In three to four years, the footprint of the external cloud should represent almost 25% of the infrastructures. Keep in mind that AWS and Azure are the group’s top two cloud providers on the public side.

Christophe Leblanc adds that the cloud of trust remains an option on the table. “Maybe we will go to the trusted cloud for our individual data and for some use cases,” he says. The company intends to closely monitor how companies like Bleu will develop and how they will charge for their services as well. However, “a large part of the applications and data will remain stored in the internal cloud”, specifies Christophe Leblanc.

A technological asset within the reach of companies

“This technological asset is available for companies to transform,” says Christophe Leblanc. A necessary transformation, says Claire Calmejane, director of innovation at Societe Generale, who points out that companies are being digitized in part due to pressure from new entrants and fintechs, whose business models are, according to the Director of Innovation, “very focused on its industrial capacity to sell data ”.

Societe Generale does not sell data to third parties, but it also wants to generate value through its data and AI use cases. “We are studying how to adapt to fintech offerings, which use data to provide personalization and services in real time,” explains Claire Calmejane.

Societe Generale, for example, has created chatbot models, like Sobot since 2018, which is offered to retail banking customers in France to facilitate contact. This virtual assistant relies in particular on speech-to-text and automatic language processing technologies to more effectively answer the questions posed to it.

But the group also insists on responsible AI. In particular, the group has signed the Digital Responsibility Charter of the Responsible Digital Institute, and is also conducting a reflection on ethics and biases in AI models.

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