12 minute read 1 Apr 2019
man holding phone

How EY’s AI journey created a major business impact

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

12 minute read 1 Apr 2019
Related topics Alliances

In its AI journey, EY successfully deployed a cognitive chatbot at EY firms around the world, which resulted in a big business impact.

The EY organisation has 250,000 professionals located across continents, and the number is constantly growing. The organization receives more than 2 million employment applications each year and hires, on an average, one person every eight minutes. At this pace and scale, the support needed for employee onboarding and performance management is extensive.

Expectations of professionals in the Transformative Age are also changing. Nearly 75% of EY people are Millennials. Having been immersed in a digital world most of their lives, Millennials have high expectations around a workplace. They prefer an easy-to-navigate, digital work environment.

Yet, to start and manage their EY careers, professionals must interact with multiple disconnected pieces of technology. EY recognized the need to change these dynamics and create an exceptional HR experience for its people. Doing this required a step change in the way EY people experienced and interacted with HR.

How EY and IBM co-created a step change in HR interactions

EY was guided by two principles as it embarked on its HR user experience transformation. The teams made a conscious decision to:

  1. Put the end user first
  2. Bring consumer technology into the enterprise

To bring the user into the design process, EY followed a “design thinking” approach. This human centered approach to innovation uses elements such as empathy and experimentation to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for businesses success. Design thinking enabled EY to make decisions based on what future users really want rather than on historical data or instinct.

EY also leveraged the strategic relationship with IBM to gain access to leading-edge digital solutions, including IBM Watson and virtual reality. IBM Watson was a natural fit for EY’s needs. The exceptional EY and IBM strategic relationship made teaming on this engagement a wonderful business fit as well.

How Goldie was deployed

IBM technologies provided a completely new way to engage EY people. They equipped EY people with the tools that they needed to start and manage their EY career journey. The teams started with a proof of concept (POC) named “Buddy.”

This POC delivered a digital cognitive buddy to complement real-world buddies for new professionals. It gave new joiners another channel, a chatbot, to support their onboarding experience. For example, new joiners could ask Buddy questions such as, “How do I record my time?” or “How do I connect to the printer?”

The POC proved to the stakeholders that AI could be applied to HR processes and could improve employee experience by providing quicker and more accurate answers to their questions. This paved the way for a more extensive AI deployment: an enterprise-wide chatbot, named Goldie.

Goldie was to sit alongside EY Success Factors Performance Management solution and help professionals find answers to a variety of performance management questions. Using the same design thinking and business collaboration approach applied in the POC, along with the lessons learned from the Buddy experience, EY successfully deployed Goldie for more than 250,000 EY professionals across 150 countries in just 31 days.

Powerful business impact

EY is experiencing an unparalleled employee engagement with Goldie. More than 500,000 questions were answered in Goldie’s first 28 days. Calls to Shared Services have reduced, allowing the EY Talent teams to focus on the more complex needs of the EY professionals across the globe. With such rapid adoption, EY achieved its return on investment in just seven days.

Even more exciting is how Goldie has set a path for changing how EY engages its people. The user-centered design thinking gave EY professionals a consumer-like digital experience. The approach, combined with IBM technology, helped EY deploy a new solution faster than it ever has. Through this experience, EY has learned to achieve the right people/digital combination to improve productivity while helping teams to better understand the future of their roles with AI.

The way forward

EY continues to train Goldie on new content to expand its cognitive capabilities. Based on Goldie’s success, EY is exploring a broader use of cognitive solutions across its Talent processes as well as other functions, such as Finance and Risk. EY recognizes that every action to create an exceptional employee experience contributes to greater retention, greater productivity and greater revenue. These are strong motivations for EY to continue its AI journey. 


In 2017, a breakthrough cognitive chatbot, “Goldie,” was deployed for more than 250,000 staff members at EY firms around the world. Powered by IBM® Watson™, this solution resulted in unparalleled employee engagement, rapid return on investment and substantial annual savings. It has transformed the way EY firms provide HR services globally. Goldie has kick-started an expansive artificial intelligence (AI) journey across EY operations.

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

Related topics Alliances