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          The Ripple Effect of AI Innovation in PBZ, part of Intesa Sanpaolo Group

          clock7 minute read


          Technological advancements are constant disruptions that reshape our world, presenting both challenges and opportunities as they permeate through society. Imagine technological change as a water droplet disturbing the surface of a pond, offering a profound perspective on the impact of innovation.

          The surface of the pond represents the familiar state of technology and society, our comfort zone. It’s where we feel at ease and accustomed to the existing systems and routines.

          The new drop of water symbolizes fresh technology or innovation. Much like a droplet that disrupts the serene pond, new tech upends the status quo, initiating waves of change. However, this initial disruption often triggers resistance and uncertainty, as it challenges and alters established norms and practices.

          The ripples in the water represent the far-reaching effects of technological change, and they radiate outward, affecting various aspects of life, business, and culture. These ripples symbolize the impact that innovation has on the broader environment, creating both positive and negative consequences.


          AI Hackathon - Structured Management During Times of Disruption

          Privredna Banka Zagreb (PBZ), part of Intesa Sanpaolo Group, one of the leading banking Group in Europe,  recognized the importance of embracing and integrating AI capabilities into its organization. In 2023, they embarked on an ambitious journey by hosting one of the largest AI hackathons in the CEE region, with more than 1,000 interested participants from three different companies.

          Eventually, 266 participants formed 65 teams, supported by 21 coaches, with the common goal of pushing the boundaries of creativity in the realms of business and IT innovation. These teams were diverse, spanning across departments such as Retail, Corporate, Risk,  Customer Support, etc.

          DevOps Enterprise Summit in Las Vegas

          The CROZ team played a pivotal role in organizing and delivering this format. We collaborated closely with PBZ and their colleagues, with Ivan Krnić sharing insights about the hackathon (or „haCHATon“ as we like to call it) concept at the DevOps Enterprise Summit in Las Vegas.

          Moreover, Draženko Kopljar,  PBZ’s Chief Operating Officer shared their thoughts on this initiative.

          Motivation for "Playground"

          “Considering that PBZ has always been a leader in recognizing and using new technologies, the arrival of generative AI seemed like a logical and natural step to organize such an experiment in the form of a hackathon. This is actually an ideal mix of team building and getting acquainted with new technology through everyday challenges. Through the hackathon, we also strengthened the synergy between the business and IT sectors, encouraging them to work as a team to come up with new improvements based on generative AI to further enhance the products we offer or will offer to our clients.”

          New Business Ideas

          “The hackathon definitely exceeded our expectations. After the hackathon, we received 60+ fresh ideas with the potential for further development. We made significant progress in a short amount of time in terms of acquainting our employees with the possibilities of generative AI and how it can help them in their daily work. We definitely see opportunities for continuation, and this is just the beginning. Many excellent ideas emerged through this hackathon that are worth further development. As generative AI is currently in the hype, and new initiatives, tools, and applications emerge on a daily/weekly basis, it was definitely a great step to organize a hackathon and stay up to date with everything it offers. Of course, as a bank, we must be very cautious about regulatory and security aspects, but that is our daily routine and should not be an excuse for the evolution of our business.”

          Partnership Synergy

          “CROZ has been our strategic partner for the last 15 years, and we have worked on innovative initiatives before. It was very helpful to have such a trusted partner in organizing the hackathon, raising awareness about the possibilities of generative AI, and developing the submitted ideas. With their expertise, knowledge, and dedication, they definitely increased the likelihood of the hackathon’s success and achieving the results we have today.”


          To conclude with a reflection on our metaphor from the beginning of this story. The ripples eventually subside, and the pond finds a new equilibrium. Similarly, tech change leads to a new normal, but it’s temporary, as the cycle repeats with each new innovation. Having structured ways to embrace it, makes the organization stronger and more resilient.

          Beside taking care our largest clients from financial domain are benefiting from CROZ's full potential, Luka is hooked on added value creation, business creativity and methodological pragmatism.

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