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OCBC's new HR app includes AI-powered chatbot

OCBC Bank has launched a comprehensive human resource mobile application, HR In Your Pocket, which includes an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that is integrated with the bank’s HR information system to provide immediate and personalised responses. This places OCBC as the first bank in Singapore to have launched such an app.

According to a media release, HR In Your Pocket was developed in-house and through feedback from employees wanting 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.

The app will benefit the 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. It will be rolled out in OCBC Malaysia by the end of the year.

HR In Your Pocket includes the following functions:

  • 1. Easy submission of leave applications and claims
  • 2. Status of HR submissions
  • 3. Opportunity to take charge of their careers within the bank
  • 4. Availability of colleagues’ contact details
Additionally, the app will feature an in-built chatbot, "Buddy", which will be able to answer employees' HR-related questions instantly.

Employees can ask ‘Buddy’ questions by either typing the questions in the chat window or using voice commands. ‘Buddy’ has human-like conversational skills and natural language processing capabilities, and is able to interpret questions and answer them in plain English.

Being fully integrated with the bank's HR system, "Buddy" can respond to individualised questions - for example, annual leave balance or expense claim status - with personalised answers.

Other questions that ‘Buddy’ can answer include those related to staff entitlements and practices, HR policies and OCBC Bank’s employee code of conduct.

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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.

Jason Ho, head of group human resources, OCBC Bank, said: "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.”

ALSO READ: The future of HR technology in Asia

The HR app and ‘Buddy’ was developed in-house by the bank’s dedicated team of five mobile developers in collaboration with the HR team. Adopting the Agile project management approach, the team has 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, with both the app and chatbot completed within two months instead of the typical five months that chatbots in the market typically require.

Praveen Raina, senior vice president, group operations & technology, OCBC Bank, said: "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."

While HR In Your Pocket is currently available on iOS devices only, it will soon be rolled out on Android devices.

Plans are also 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.

READ MORE: Getting staff on board with new HR technology

Photo / OCBC

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