- Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young announced its new EY.ai platform, aimed at helping organizations to “confidently adopt” artificial intelligence as firms seek to capture the benefits of the fast-expanding technology.
- The platform, which follows the investment of $1.4 billion into the technology by the firm, integrates AI into key EY technology offerings and solutions, including its Fabric service, the company said Wednesday in a press release.
- Part of the new platform also includes the rollout of a large language model designed with the purpose of upskilling AI development for EY employees, dubbed EY.ai EYQ.
The Big Four firm will release the EY.ai EYQ platform to the wider company following an initial pilot with 4,200 of its “technology-focused” team members, the company said.
EY’s goal with the platform is to be a “holistic, all encompassing partner with our clients to help them on this journey, because I do think it will take some time for most organizations to get the full value” out of AI, Jay Persaud, global leader of emerging technology ecosystem for EY told CFO Dive in an interview.
Thanks to the launch of ChatGPT last November, awareness of AI has been raised to a level not seen previously, Persaud said — however, EY has been investing in AI for several years at this point, he said, which helped to build the foundation for its newly-founded platform. The $1.4 billion it has funneled into the tool to date used to help support its integration into tools like its technology acceleration platform EY Fabric — which is used by 60,000 of the company’s clients, the company said Wednesday.
The $1.4 billion investment in AI does form part of a larger $2.5 billion pledge in wider technology investments over the next three years, detailed as part of a $10 billion spending push by EY in 2021, the company confirmed to CFO Dive. Its technology investments have a particular focus on AI, according to a September 2021 company press release. Last year, EY announced it would be putting $1 billion into its audit technology capabilities.
“AI’s moment is now,” but successful adoption represents more than just a technology challenge, EY Global Chairman and CEO Carmine Di Sibio said in a statement included in the Wednesday release.
“It’s about unlocking new economic value responsibly to realize the vast potential of this technological evolution,” he said of the EY.ai platform.
The company’s global technology officer, Nicola Morini Bianzino, will be leading the global AI strategy program as well as remaining in his current role, Persaud said in an email. As well as Bianzino and Persuad, Beatriz Sanz Saiz, “as an integral part of her current role — Global Consulting Data and AI Leader — works closely with Nicola to co-lead the program in building and delivering a scalable AI strategy using a globally coordinated approach,” he said in an email.
EY’s heightened focus on AI technology falls into step with similar recent moves by its fellow Big Four firms. Last week, KPMG announced the formation of its AI and Digital Innovation Group, focused on setting a “firmwide innovation agenda” around the use of the technology, CFO Dive previously reported.
PwC, for its part, recently announced strategic shifts at its firm which, though not specifically focused on AI, have synergy with the investments the company is making in that technology, Wes Bricker, vice chair and U.S. trust solutions leader for PwC told CFO Dive in a previous interview. Both PwC and Deloitte have also made commitments to shell out billion-dollar investments in generative AI.
Many financial firms writing large checks to ensure they can cash in on the transformative technology, but as generative AI has continued to evolve, concerns over its security, ethical and regulatory standards and most recently, its cost have begun to emerge.
The technology is “ so powerful that any single stakeholder by itself probably will not come up with the best answer,” Persaud said regarding the wider AI environment. “I think this is where we absolutely have to cooperate.”
Investments in generative AI are not expected to have a “significant influence” on revenue for software provider Salesforce, CFO Amy Weaver said last month during the company’s most recent earnings call.
Salesforce is one of several U.S. software companies that have opted not to hike prices for the use of generative AI technology, alongside Adobe and Zoom, according to a Wednesday Financial Times report. This approach runs counter to that taken by Microsoft which announced in July that it would be charging $30 per user, per month for its AI-backed Microsoft 365 Copilot tool. A large-scale backer of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, Microsoft has also inked partnership agreements surrounding its AI-backed solutions with EY, PwC and KPMG.