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Technology-driven challenges, both existing and emerging, require banks to invest in IT capabilities, especially in artificial intelligence (AI). Digital options theory presents a valuable guide rail for these investments. However, the nature of AI as a moving frontier of computing requires certain extensions to established digital option thinking. Based on interviews with 23 experts in the retail banking industry, we highlight the importance of thinking broadly when laying the foundation for AI options and being mindful of the dynamic effects of contextual factors. Drawing from digital options theory and the Technology-Organization-Environment framework as dual lens, our study adds a structured approach to consciously balance resources and AI-related capability investments with a broader consideration of the banking industry’s complex environment. In this way, our study complements recent research on the interplay between incumbents’ resources and digital opportunities.



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