In the formal launch event of BBVA’s new global development center specializing in artificial intelligence, the leaders of the three areas that have worked together to create it – Data, Engineering and Client Solutions – shared with the team their vision and goals to materialize the impact of this technology across the organization.
An opening doesn’t always just mark a beginning: it can also be a turning point, the culmination of years of hard work. "AI Factory is a project that does not start from scratch; it leverages the work that BBVA has been undertaking for years," explained BBVA global head of Data Ricardo Martín Manjón, during the opening of this new center, which is going to centralize the group’s AI efforts.
Martin explained that AI Factory is "a new execution model" that builds on the knowledge that BBVA has acquired and which enables it to understand which work models, cultures and components are necessary to learn how to execute AI projects on a large scale and globally. "AI Factory aims to ensure that the impact of artificial intelligence is felt across the entire organization," added Martin.
David Puente, global head of Client Solutions at BBVA; Ricardo Martín Manjón, global head of Data at BBVA; and Ricardo Forcano, global head of Engineering at BBVA, during the presentation of BBVA AI Factory.
In fact, AI Factory will implement some of the same "ingredients" that have already proven effective in deploying client solutions, such as the 'agile' model that has helped drive the Group’s digital transformation, deliver high-impact results for both the business and customers. In addition, the Factory also integrates BBVA Data & Analytics, the Group’s center of excellence in advanced analytics, and Madiva Soluciones, the unit behind products such as BBVA Valora.
Another ingredient that has paved the way to setting up the factory is BBVA’s work in the deployment of the tech platforms that are essential for the creation of global products and services. "All these advances are combining here today to bring data analytics to the entire organization and to allow us to make its impact also globally tangible," added David Puente, global head of Client Solutions at BBVA.
For Puente, AI Factory will have to strike the right balance between pragmatism - to ensure that the project execution always has a real impact in the business areas – and a long-term vision that guides the bank's transformation process and points at "where we want to go". The four initial lines of work that have been established as a roadmap for the new factory are boosting efficiency of internal processes, taking product personalization to the next level, supporting the bank’s commercial managers in their daily work , and enhancing protection against fraud and cyber-attacks.
To progress toward the achievement of these goals, Puente underscored the importance of measuring the impact of successful AI-based initiatives, as well as ensuring they can be scaled up within the organization and across the Group’s footprint. "The goal is to integrate, into the very design of the solutions emerging from this new model, the vision of how they can be implemented in other countries," added
For BBVA global head of Engineering Ricardo Forcano, the inauguration of AI Factory is also a pivotal milestone in building advanced data analytics and algorithm capabilities and putting them "at the service of the bank.” But it is also a huge step to stay "on the right track towards the organization’s 'agile' transformation, with the creation of cross-disciplinary data & technology teams, with the required decision-making capacity and skills to execute projects."
Looking forward, Forcano stressed that the great challenge will lie in instilling "a spirit of continuous learning" into the company’s DNA, that drives everyone to constantly improve the way projects are approached and the models applied in carrying them out. He also pointed out that the success of this new organization will also depend on AI Factory’s ability to define a culture and a working model that fosters constant evolution. "And this will depend on the teams, who will need to be challenging at all times how we are doing things and collaborating, both within and outside the organization," he added.
The initial team of BBVA’s new AI center consists of 150 people and integrates multidisciplinary profiles, including data scientists, engineers and software developers, data architects, as well as "business translators" whose role is to bridge the gap between analytical capabilities and business needs.
AI Factory data scientists are all members of the Advanced Analytics Community of Practice, and – along the community’s other 800 members - share achievements, knowledge and methodology through the group dynamics that the community has created, and contribute to defining the standards applied in the development of artificial intelligence solutions to create reusable and scalable components. For their part, the architects and engineers of this new organization actively participate in their respective disciplines within the Group.
The initial team of BBVA’s new AI center consists of 150 people and integrates multidisciplinary profiles.