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Maybe Daft Punk (and later Kanye) were onto something.  With the latest influx of digital assistants, we literally can work it harder, make it better and do it faster.  Can it really make us stronger though?   Well, I want to find out…..

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As you can tell, I’m a bit obsessed with virtual assistants.  We’ve just got Google Home here in the Lab and as part of my Fintech research, I’ve discovered Cleo, an AI assistant for your money that can be accessed via any mobile device, and also integrates with Facebook Messenger so you can check your financial status at the same time as updating your friends and family about your amazing holiday/dinner/night out.  I’ll admit, I talk to Siri and Alexa more than most of my friends and know pretty much all questions or statements needed to get either one to do something funny but do I use any of them to their full advantage?  Absolutely not.  Do I think they could make me a better person if used correctly?  Strangely, yes I do.

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This got us thinking here in the Lab.  We’re already scoping out some tests around using digital channels to influence the way customers interact and behave (so the harder, better, faster part, if you will) but in using digital assistants, can we make our customers (and ourselves) more resilient?  

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Lets look at Cleo.  The idea behind her is to give you access to your financial information in an accessible and fun way, helping people to learn the importance of budgeting and saving.  She is accessed via Facebook Messenger or you add her as a contact on your phone, so you can converse with her like you would your friends.  She then deploys clever algorithms to assess where you money is going, how much will be left until the next payment and gives hints and tips on how to manage.  She's essentially that really money-savvy friend you either have or wished you had, with the added bonus that you can call her at anytime of the day with your questions.  

I am going to be trialling this one myself, amongst a few other apps such as Squirrel and Monzo, to see if there are any benefits to designing a much larger test, particularly as the behemoth that is Universal Credit keeps on rolling and financial security becomes more prevalent for our customers.  

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We’ve also been doing some stuff with Alexa over the last few months, and if you’ve been reading the blogs by Simon, you’ll know that whilst it does have some issues, we’re still not ready to kill off the idea that AI can help customers access services that wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so, making them more resilient by providing a route to fair access of services.  

It’s an interesting concept and one that I’m sure will provide lots of learning points as we start our scoping and test building activities, all of which we will fully document on here and our Trello board.  In the meantime though, I’ll still continue to ask Siri who lives in a pineapple under the sea for a giggle.

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