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How C5 are harnessing Azure OpenAI to increase productivity

June 5, 2023
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Unless you have been living under a rock recently, you could not have missed the increased coverage that artificial intelligence (AI) has been enjoying in the media! The release of the AI model GPT-4 and its incorporation in the publicly available service “ChatGPT” has moved the AI game on.

We have been looking at what this might mean for your business, focusing on the Azure Open AI Service. C5 have recently been accepted by Microsoft into this service and as a result, our Data & AI team have spent the last few weeks busy in the lab, understanding exactly how OpenAI can make a positive impact on life at BDO/C5. We have spent the time considering all the concerns that we and  our clients may have about the safe use of AI. The results have been staggering!

If you would like to talk to us about how AI can help your business to work more efficiently, then please get in touch.

Mitigating AI’s Data Privacy concerns via in-house GPT Models

There have been concerns raised about the danger that AI models such as GPT-4 present. There are concerns from a governance perspective around AI making unsupervised decisions, the risks surrounding data protection and security when sharing information with public AI models, and of course the impact these models will have on the work that we do.

These are important concerns which need to be considered carefully. However, models such as GPT are here to stay and if used correctly, can make a significant and positive impact on our lives.

With Azure OpenAI, Microsoft has enabled organisations with an Azure tenant to in-house their own GPT models, secured from public access. Microsoft have made a commitment to ensure that data shared with a model is not kept beyond an active session and is therefore not used in any way to train models for other organisations to use.

Organisations can prompt the model to give it context and safely limit its abilities, and provide it with data, relevant information sources which can be interrogated to answer questions.

The ability to interpret questions and supply eloquent answers (even continued conversation threads) is all GPT!

However, maximising the efficiency of GPT, both in terms of performance and cost, requires some clever indexing of your organisation’s information sources. Azure Cognitive Services provides this indexing and search capability, driven by GPT’s ability to find relevant search terms from the questions asked.

Responsible AI

Governance surrounding the ethical use of AI is a rapidly developing field. Key considerations include fairness, “explainability” & interpretability, security & resilience, validity & reliability, and Data Integrity. BDO’s Risk and Advisory team are working with us to ensure alignment with industry Responsible AI practices.

An Internal Use Case: HR Assistant 

Organisations can apply GPT’s extraordinary cognitive abilities to their own information, creating “expert” assistants, or copilots as Microsoft terms them.

At BDO/C5 we are now trialing an HR assistant. The assistant has access to all employee handbooks. It uses Azure Active Directory authentication and so is aware of who it is talking to. It has access to the organisation’s employee structure, so its responses are tailored to the employee’s role and the assistant even has secure access to the employee’s personal data, allowing it to answer questions specific to the employee’s contract.

Using GPT’s ability to interpret languages, our HR assistant can take questions in almost any language and respond in the same language, even though the information sources it references are all in English! All the information transfer in a chat session occurs safely within BDO’s own Azure tenant, limited to the logged-on employee’s AD privileges, accessing only their own and company-wide information sources.

The costs benefit of our HR assistant are clear. Employees can get immediate answers to their questions without the need to search handbooks, and HR is free to focus on other value-added tasks. Due to the success of our HR assistant, our Data & AI team now has a lengthy list of other use-cases that will help BDO/C5 work more efficiently, which they are now working their way through.

Next on the list is a client relationship management copilot, an assistant with access to our CRM, client contracts, project performance and financial KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which will be able to support the Relationship Management team with instant answers to any client related questions.

Where there is information, there are answers to be found! If GPT can access that information efficiently, the potential use-cases within organisations are endless and the cost benefits are clear.

Further application into the realms of Compliance, Law, and Due Diligence reviews are also clear.

About Chat GPT

GPT-4, developed by the US based organisation OpenAI, is a multimodal (it can consume and understand both text and images) AI model, that shows near-human level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks. Its ability to break down and understand natural language questions, consider the knowledge it has gleamed from being trained on the internet (up to 2021), combined with any other information it is provided during the context of a conversation, is nothing less than astonishing.

If you would like to talk to us about how AI can help your business to work more efficiently, then please get in touch with our Data & AI Team