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Artificial intelligence and machine learning; exploring the possibilities

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Hi, I’m Mark Holl and I’m leading a programme looking at the possibilities of using some artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to support our work in HMRC.

We recently held our first Automation and Artificial Intelligence event; a high energy, interactive, innovative day to bring digital, technology and business experts together in one room. The aims of the day were to:

  • demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ through the latest technology
  • start to understand some of the broader challenges that HMRC faces and areas of focus for improving customer experience and augmenting how we make decisions
  • explore opportunities in HMRC to exploit automation technology and machine learning to help address those challenges

AI and machine learning are hot topics at the moment, appearing everywhere from factory manufacturing processes to intelligent personal assistant devices sitting on your own coffee table at home. For HMRC, this isn’t about replacing people with machines, it’s about automating repetitive tasks and freeing up our people for more satisfying work helping our customers – this is people and machines working powerfully together.

We’ve already had a lot of automation success here at HMRC since we opened our Automation Delivery Centre last year. We’ve made great progress with our goal to automate 10 million processes by the end of 2018 so the next logical step is to move into AI and machine learning as well. We’ve already used it with contact handling, casework decision making and helping customers through effective self-service to positive effect.

So to feel the palpable buzz of excitement in the room was really encouraging. Ideas came thick and fast as people had their own lightbulb moments about how AI and machine learning could be used to address some of their business challenges. Some people I spoke to started the day only vaguely aware of the technologies in this space but left with a much greater understanding of the scope of their application possibilities.

We’ll explore some of the ideas that came out from the event and we’re planning  to test them with colleagues across HMRC. We also want to work with and share our learning and experience across the rest of government.

We’ll let you know how we get on.

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