How a team of Prague tech-heads are driving AI innovation in the finance sector

Artificial Intelligence is set to transform the day-to-day work of IT experts, including in the finance sector.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 10.06.2024 17:00:00 (updated on 07.06.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Throughout the business world, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is viewed with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The power of the technology has led some to predict a utopian future in which human creativity is unleashed, while others warn of doomsday scenarios.

Amid this speculation, businesses and IT professionals are working out exactly how AI can drive innovation and improve processes. The potential for improvement in automation and in assisting IT development is vast, leading to excitement at financial institutions such as Commerzbank, which is in the process of exploring future uses of AI technology. A team of IT experts working on AI developments is being built at the bank’s Prague Digital Technology Center, a hub for IT activities across every area of its business.

Future AI assistant

For Commerzbank’s Prague DTC, the biggest focus for AI developments is improving the work of the center’s 1000-strong team. One of the principal applications of the AI technology being explored here is the creation of an AI assistant or “copilot” for developers.

“The GitHub copilot is an AI paired developer,” explains Roman Krichebauer, Product Owner for Commerzbank’s AI initiatives in Prague. “Developers make the code, and the copilot is their buddy, making suggestions and providing ideas. The copilot will help developers think about how code can be written. When they open a previous task, it will go through their code, learning from what they did and how they did it. It will then make suggestions, and it’ll be up to developers whether they accept or decline these suggestions.” 

"Another part of the copilot’s functionality works a bit like Chat GPT; you take a function, paste it into a chat, and ask what the function is for. You’ll get an answer with technical instructions and explanations of what the code means.”

“The products we’re working on are designed for internal use, making life for Commerzbank employees easier, especially among the IT community at our Prague DTC, and Commerzbank globally”

-Roman Krichebauer, Product Owner for Commerzbank’s AI initiatives

“Our other main product is called AI Chat. It’s a kind of Chat Bot. There’s a popup window, and users can ask for details regarding a task, such as who the responsible person is for that task in Jira, what the status is, and so on,” Roman adds.

In this sense, solutions being developed at Commerzbank’s Prague DTC bear resemblances to popular consumer AI products, designed specifically to support IT professionals.

Why is AI needed?

The work of Commerzbank’s AI team in Prague influences developments and changes for Commerzbank operations around the world. While confirming the vital importance of the company’s Prague DTC within its global network, this also demonstrates the bank’s strong interest in driving AI developments further.

“AI is important in ensuring that our tech stack remains up to date. We already see results in terms of efficiency from using AI to help people create code, as well as in initiatives around AI Ops. Repetitive tasks could be performed by AI, allowing humans to focus on different jobs where more brain power and creativity is required,” Roman explains.

The goal for implementing AI at a financial institution such as Commerzbank, then, is to improve development processes, ultimately leading to better experiences for customers. At the same time, Roman stresses that Commerzbank is well aware of the need to mitigate the risks of AI implementation, carefully examining each use case in order to ensure that results are consistent with the values and priorities of the bank and its customers.

“AI doesn’t just mean Chat GPT,” Roman emphasizes. “There are a lot of different ways to use it, such as predictive models. If a financial institution is closing the year and knows that it typically faces certain issues at that time, AI could help predict such issues and react to prevent such things happening again.”

Tech sector excitement

Commerzbank’s AI team in Prague is currently in an expansion phase, with plans to have 10-12 developers working on AI solutions within a cross-functional team, collaborating with other colleagues in Germany and Bulgaria. Roman predicts that in the near future, high demand for people skilled in AI will make AI roles “standard positions within our industry.” 

At the same time, he points out that developers with a non-AI background can quickly get up to speed. This has allowed Commerzbank to build its AI team in Prague from within. “Some of our colleagues are really passionate about AI – not just about using it, but also when it comes to the behind-the-scenes aspects, investigating how it works. We’re finding these people within our company and giving them a platform to be successful,” Roman says.

Given the potential for AI to take on more basic tasks previously performed by human developers, it’s tempting to think that IT professionals may feel threatened by the rise of the technology. According to Roman, though, the attitude of developers at Commerzbank’s Prague DTC towards new AI products is overwhelmingly positive.

“People are really excited about AI,” he says. “They’re really keen and open to using it, and they’re excited to see something new in their daily lives. It reflects our ambition as an employer, because developers don’t like using old or ‘prehistoric’ systems and solutions! People are really proud that Commerzbank is adopting the highest AI standards in our daily work.”

This article was written in cooperation with Commerzbank. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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