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2021: The Year We Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Shayne Skaff, CEO,  Blooma, Inc.Shayne Skaff, CEO, Blooma, Inc.
I believe we’re going to see artificial intelligence embraced at a new level by lenders in 2021. This is partly a result of where technology has been heading for a while now but also a response to the new necessity of operating in a world where disruptions like the pandemic must be accounted for.

This year I believe we’ll be celebrating the end of monolithic technology and truly embracing modularity. With the ability of cloud platforms to integrate systems and utilize many sources of data, banks will embrace the fact that in order to provide the speed and value that their customers now demand, the ability for quick decision making is essential. At Blooma we talk about the way that artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to take us to a place where we’re going to have answers before we’ve even asked the questions.

Think of all the ways that 2020 affected the commercial real estate business. Every day the pandemic went on, the potential revenue generation of many types of properties continued to shift, sometimes in ways that had never been seen before. One thing that worked well, for those that embraced it, was using technology to keep closer track on their existing portfolio than might have been possible just a few years ago. Adapting our technology to help lenders monitor their existing portfolios was a major evolution in Blooma’s functionality that will continue into 2021.
Systems that analyze assets and loans every day and were able to measure the ways that a changing environment is affecting them became much more valuable and now seem like something that banks can’t do without going forward. There’s a lot of value in AI systems that can continuously crunch data to provide humans with results that they can make decisions around on a real time basis, and going forward, there’s really no way around that.

2021 will also be the year of understanding that the nature of this new technology means there is no longer a steep learning curve or sizable commitment to be made up front to try it out. Companies like Blooma can launch a platform and allow a bank to get comfortable with it for a while before going into a commercial agreement. The flexibility with which technology is being consumed and purchased is something totally new that may have snuck up on some technology officers. Implementation can be incredibly rapid, which means there is very little upfront cost and the efficiency and savings gains become a reality almost right away. Likewise, recent breakthroughs in private AI means that systems can learn from confidential data across entities without ever sharing it between them in any way, and have fully accounted for security and compliance concerns, and the latest privacy legislation.

I’m also hopeful this year that the stigma of AI as no more than a potential automation replacement for human beings will finally fall by the wayside. This is technology that will truly improve the lives of employees, in the same way that most of the technological advances of the last century have. Lenders especially have to remember that they have a changing workforce right now – to some degree the people that have been doing their underwriting and analysis for the last few decades are moving out, and there’s a new workforce moving in that looks at technology differently and are much more likely to demand something new and advanced to make their jobs less rote. We’re already in this new age, and although the events of 2020 might have been cause to delay forward advancement for a lot of us, that bill is likely coming due in 2021.
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