Singapore bank launches AI for HR – an SG first


Singapore’s OCBC Bank has launched a human resources mobile app, embedded with an interactive artificial intelligence ‘chatbot’ – a first for a Singapore-based bank.

The iPhone app, named ‘HR In Your Pocket’, includes an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, ‘Buddy’, that taps into the bank’s central human resources (HR) information system. This allows the ‘bot’ to give “instant and individualised responses” specifically tailored to an employee’s unique profile, the bank said.

The app, currently accessible for OCBC’s Singapore-based staff, provides access to a range of HR resources, including leave applications, tracking of employee medical and lifestyle expense reimbursement claims, internal job postings, and OCBC Bank’s people directory.

The ‘HR In Your Pocket’ app was developed in-house, shaped by employee feedback. According to OCBC, employees had been demanding easier access to HR information and the ability to perform HR-related tasks  without going through the exhaustive process of consulting HR staff.

“We are always exploring new initiatives that make employee experience and engagement superior,” said Jason Ho, Head of Group Human Resources, OCBC Bank. “These initiatives, including the development of ‘HR in Your Pocket’, are often moulded with input from our employees.”

“The internal feedback was that our apps for customers are innovative and useful, so we thought: ‘Why not channel our bank’s digital capabilities and technological expertise into developing intuitive and easy-to-use apps for our employees too?’

The app is currently only made available to iPhone users; however, subsequent releases may be offered for Android.

According to Praveen Raina, Senior Vice President, Group Operations and Technology, OCBC Bank, the bank was not only conscious of reducing the time and effort spent on HR-related matters, but also in serving the demands of today’s increasingly time-pressed employees.

“The app helps to boost productivity as it frees up resources and time that could be used for other purposes,” Raina said.

“We recognise that in this digital age, everyone has come to expect instant gratification – everything is just a click away. It is the same for this app. We made sure that it is comprehensive and user-friendly so our colleagues have the HR information they need at their fingertips 24/7.”

AI implementations are set to explode within the next three years, with the global artificial intelligence market forecast to reach more than US$47 billion by 2020, according to IDC research.