OCBC Bank Introduces First Artificial Intelligence-Powered HR Mobile App
Singapore, 5 June 2017 – OCBC Bank has become the first bank in Singapore to launch a comprehensive human resource (HR) mobile application (app) to meet the needs of its employees. The app, HR In Your Pocket, includes an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot that is integrated with the Bank’s HR information system. This chatbot can provide immediate responses that are specific to each employee.
HR In Your Pocket is set to benefit OCBC Bank’s employees in Singapore by giving them access to a holistic HR resource centre for leave applications, tracking of employee medical and lifestyle expense reimbursement claims, internal job postings and OCBC Bank’s people directory.
Employees can also ask the app’s in-built chatbot, ‘Buddy’, HR-related questions and get an instant response. As ‘Buddy’ is fully integrated with the Bank’s HR system, the questions can be individualised: The employee can ask if he or she has met mandatory leave requirements or enquire after the status of an expense claim. Buddy can then provide accurate and personalised answers.
HR In Your Pocket was developed in-house and feedback was gathered internally, with employees sharing that they wanted to be able to access HR information and perform HR-related matters anywhere and anytime, without having to contact the HR team or be seated at their desks.
HR In Your Pocket’s In-Built Chatbot, ‘Buddy’
‘Buddy’ complements OCBC Bank’s HR team to deliver an enhanced employee experience, reducing the time and effort employees need to spend on HR-related matters. As it is integrated with the Bank’s HR information system, ‘Buddy’ provides accurate answers specific to each employee, such as his/her annual leave balance or medical expenses reimbursement claim status. Other questions that ‘Buddy’ can answer include those related to staff entitlements and practices, HR policies and OCBC Bank’s employee code of conduct.
Employees can ask ‘Buddy’ questions by either typing the questions in the chat window or using voice commands, as with Apple’s virtual personal assistant, Siri. ‘Buddy’ has human-like conversational skills and natural language processing capabilities, and is able to interpret questions and answer them in plain English.
‘Buddy’ and the HR app was developed in-house by the Bank’s dedicated team of five mobile developers in collaboration with the HR team. They adopted the Agile project management approach, which gave them the flexibility to continuously improve and respond to changes or feedback instead of following fixed processes. As a result, they were able to expedite the whole development process; both the app and chatbot were completed within two months whereas chatbots in the market typically require almost five months.
After the development process, ‘Buddy’ was put through two months of rigorous pilot testing and programming and then fine-tuned to ensure that its responses are comprehensive and accurate.
Besides ‘Buddy’, HR In Your Pocket includes the following functions:
1. Easy submission of leave applications and claims: Employees can apply for leave – such as annual, medical, childcare or family leave – on the go. They can also submit their claims for outpatient medical and dental expenses, dependents’ medical expenses as well as other lifestyle expenses, by simply taking a photo of their receipts and uploading them using the app.
2. Status of HR submissions: This will allow employees to easily track the status of their expense reimbursement claims and leave applications. Managers can also approve their team members’ leave applications through the app, even when they are on vacation themselves.
3. Opportunity to take charge of their careers within the Bank: Employees can browse the available job vacancies across the Bank and its subsidiaries, and apply for internal postings that interest them. On average, more than 20% of vacancies are filled internally every year.
4. Availability of colleagues’ contact details: This will enable employees to conveniently search for the phone numbers and email address of anyone across the Group on the go.
OCBC Bank employees can access HR In Your Pocket with OCBC OneTouch™, which leverages Apple’s Touch ID technology to enable employees to log in to the app using fingerprint recognition.
Said Mr Jason Ho, Head of Group Human Resources, OCBC Bank: "We are always exploring new initiatives that make employee experience and engagement superior. 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?’ This is all the more apt as mobile phones have become an indispensable gadget for everyone, and the HR app readily complements this modern lifestyle."
Said Mr Praveen Raina, Senior Vice President, Group Operations & Technology, OCBC Bank: "The app helps to boost productivity as it frees up resources and time that could be used for other purposes. 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.
"I am pleased that our mobile developer team that is behind some of our breakthrough applications such as OCBC OneTouch™, the open Application Programming Interface (API) platform, voice biometrics authentication and the enhanced OCBC Pay Anyone that leverages iMessage and Siri, is again the first to create a fully integrated HR chatbot in the market."
HR In Your Pocket is currently available on iOS devices only. It will be rolled out on Android devices. Plans are in place for the next phase of development for the app, for instance by integrating it with the learning management system so that employees can apply for courses and track their learning and development journey through the app. The app will be rolled out in OCBC Malaysia by the end of the year.
Quote from employee
Said Ms Lee King Lan, Vice President, Global Corporate Banking: "People are on the move and using their smartphones much more than before, so this app is very useful as I can get instant and accurate responses from the HR chatbot, wherever I am and at any time of the day. I don’t need to wait till I’m back in the office to search for the information on the Intranet or contact HR. This makes it so easy for me to plan my leave and submit my claims even when I’m not in the office."