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PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) today unveiled grand plans to invest $1 billion in expanding and scaling its artificial intelligence (AI) portfolio over the next three years. The significant investment aims to assist clients in completely reimagining their business workflows through generative AI.
In a bid to revolutionize the tech space, the firm has announced a major partnership with tech giant Microsoft. The partnership aims to develop scalable AI solutions, harnessing OpenAI’s cutting-edge GPT-4/ChatGPT technology alongside Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service. PwC believes this unique partnership will usher in a new era of innovation, propelling the company to greater heights by unleashing generative AI’s full potential.
“AI is already transforming business, and generative AI has not only captured the world’s attention, but it also represents an important tipping point in bringing this powerful technology to everyone,” Joe Atkinson, chief products and technology officer at PwC, told VentureBeat. “We believe that AI, used in a responsible and trusted way, will revolutionize how we all live and work. This is why we decided to invest $1 billion over the next three years to expand and scale our artificial intelligence offerings.”
The investment will enhance the company’s internal platforms, incorporating an all-new generative AI environment that will streamline the firm’s tax, audit and consulting services.
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Just last month, PwC’s global legal practice announced that it is embracing the OpenAI-based Harvey application, which helps automate and enhance various aspects of legal and tax work for clients.
PwC has already hit the ground running, implementing advanced capabilities within Azure OpenAI Service for clients across an array of industries, from insurance to aviation, healthcare and beyond.
Recently, the company built a custom generative language model for a pharmaceutical company that automated its drafting of safety narratives and claims that this solution resulted in over 50% savings in end-to-end processing time, enabling clinicians to focus on higher-value work.
“We are excited that PwC will utilize Azure OpenAI Service to transform the way they work, and to deliver innovative customer solutions that take advantage of the world’s most advanced AI models, backed by Azure’s trusted enterprise-grade capabilities and AI-optimized infrastructure,” said Eric Boyd, corporate vice president, AI platform at Microsoft, in a written statement. “Our collaboration with PwC and OpenAI will be a game-changer that opens the floodgates for businesses to experience generative AI applications in a safe and secure manner.”
The ambitious plan also includes a major upskilling program for PwC’s 65,000 employees, allowing them to leverage the full potential of AI tools and capabilities through the company’s proprietary My+ program.
PwC’s generative AI focus
PwC’s Atkinson said that the company is proactively working with Microsoft to implement Microsoft 365’s generative AI capabilities as they become available.
“We believe generative AI has the potential to transform virtually every aspect of how work gets done,” Atkinson told VentureBeat. “We are building AI for ourselves and clients in a secure, enterprise environment on Azure OpenAI, and we are leveraging our responsible AI framework to ensure that we do this with sufficient focus on bias, ethical use and data privacy and to adapt to changing regulations.”
The company is now taking a bold leap forward, using generative AI to revolutionize how it serves clients. It claims that the technology is already yielding impressive results, saving time and costs while accelerating revenue growth for its clients.
“We recently applied AI to an auto insurer’s claim estimation process and helped them realize 29% efficiency savings,” Atkinson explained. “We have also worked with a Fortune 500 telecom company to develop end-to-end data and analytic modeling to improve their tech support call center experience. Our work yielded an estimated Year 1 saving of $18 million with 2% revenue acceleration for the client.”
Talking about the upskilling program, he said that nurturing its talent through AI is integral to PwC’s current vision, and the company recognizes that the best way to ensure that its teams continue to deliver exceptional work is by equipping them with cutting-edge technology and expertise.
“Providing our team with a better understanding of AI, its continued evolution, and how it can be applied in trusted and responsible ways will be key to helping solve our clients’ most complex problems while at the same time helping our people grow professionally throughout their career,” Atkinson said.
Streamlining business workflows through responsible AI
While AI presents immense opportunities, it is also fraught with risks, and proper governance is crucial in mitigating these risks. PwC believes that tapping into the power of AI technology — in a responsible and trusted way — will be a key challenge for businesses across every sector and geography.
New data from the company’s latest Trust Survey paints a fascinating picture of the current state of affairs in the tech world. The survey reveals that almost every business leader is investing in AI-related initiatives and systems in the short term, signaling a clear trend toward the integration of AI in various industries.
However, upon closer examination of the report it becomes evident that a mere 35% of executives have intentions to prioritize the improvement of governance for AI systems and reporting on AI model performance.
“Across the portfolio of services we provide our clients, we believe AI holds the power to create greater efficiency, to improve quality, and to unlock our people’s capacity, freeing them from more routine tasks and allowing them to focus on creating the value and trust our clients and stakeholders expect,” Atkinson said. “Helping our clients understand and apply this technology — not just with point solutions, but at enterprise scale — will help create competitive differentiation for organizations and help them manage their businesses more efficiently.”
In 2019, the company made waves with the launch of its Responsible AI toolkit, offering clients a customizable suite of resources to help them adopt ethical and responsible AI practices. PwC’s framework for responsible AI is centered around promoting governance and accountability for clients as they develop and deploy OpenAI’s cutting-edge generative AI technology for various use cases.
“Responsible AI at its core is good data science, governed by key guiding principles from strategy to execution,” he said. “Our Responsible AI (RAI) team helps clients build AI their stakeholders can trust from wherever they are on their AI journey.”
He emphasized that It is essential for every organization to align on an ethical AI framework and create a responsible-use policy.
“Transparency and trust are critical to the application of any technology, but it is particularly true with AI,” he said. “The guardrails should extend beyond good intentions and policy statements — they must align on practices and actions that serve the organization and their constituents, not only in their current state, but as the technology continues to evolve.”
An AI-driven future
Atkinson believes that over the longer term, every industry will be transformed by the continued advances in AI.
“Every company will face decisions on how quickly to embrace and adopt these technologies, and they’ll face the challenges of doing that responsibly. PwC is uniquely positioned to help,” he said.
He believes that empowering professionals to harness the full potential of emerging technologies, such as generative AI, will be the key to driving innovation and achieving organizational goals.
“While AI will likely impact every role in some way, we believe that with the right skills and tools, the advance of these powerful technologies will create more opportunities not just for companies, but for their people,” he said. ”By unlocking the capacity of these technologies, professionals across all roles can perform their duties more effectively, paving the way for continued growth and career advancement.”
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