The blend of human and artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining the work environment, opening new business opportunities and creating new value for financial services firms and their customers—at an accelerated pace and scale. This trend is reshaping both the way people work and fundamental business processes and practices.

However, many firms have yet to embrace this transformation and are still focusing on the potential of AI alone, often to achieve efficiencies. These are the firms that will be left behind as forward-thinking competitors understand and leverage the power of “applied intelligence”—the integration of humans and intelligent machines across the enterprise with the aim of solving complex problems, developing new products and services, and breaking into or creating new markets.

The good news and the bad news

In the new workplace of applied intelligence, humans and machines no longer simply work side-by-side. Rather, they’re collaborative partners, creating more than the sum of their parts. The good news is, many employees see the potential in this new model and they’re ready to embrace this new work relationship. The bad news is, many employers have not recognised the importance of employee readiness and so have not stepped up to the plate to enable the “new skilling” I described in my previous post—an effort that is critical to making the applied intelligence workplace a reality.

The fundamental issue is not one of technological capability. Rather, it’s about changing mindsets and helping leaders and others understand that the real opportunity of AI is machines and people, not machines instead of people.

Leading the charge

While workforce transformation may have been traditionally rooted in the HR function, the transformation to an applied intelligence work environment requires an enterprise-wide strategy. This initiative is not an HR project, although HR has the opportunity to be a strategic leader. The call to action for HR professionals and their firms is to create the future workforce now, and to do so from a new perspective that requires the following three significant shifts in thinking:

  1. From workforce planning to work planning. As I explained in post two of this series, crafting the workforce of the future requires a different approach—one based on reimagining work. Things to think about include how work will be reconfigured based on AI implementation, how human roles will change, and what impacts this will have on the firm’s operating model. Understanding what work will be done, whether it needs to be supported by humans, machines, or AI, who those humans should be and the best model for sourcing and accessing those pools of human talent are foundational to this effort.
  2. “New skilling” for future value. Firms will need to project into the future to understand the skills that will be required as the business world shifts to an applied intelligence model. Training will play a primary role in this transformational effort and must become a critical strategic initiative—much more so than it’s been in the past. HR representatives play an important role in making sure firms leverage all talent pool assets, including the liquid workforce, in staffing their organisations with employees who have the right skills to fully execute the applied intelligence value proposition.
  3. Positioning for the full value of AI. The most fundamental paradigm shift is to view AI as the truly transformational force it is—one that elevates human possibilities not just in the workplace but in the market as well. Human-machine collaboration will reshape the competitive landscape in ways we might not yet realise. Firms must be forward-thinking in envisioning potential new markets, products, services, and customer experiences that can result from the applied intelligence workplace.

Accenture’s banking- and insurance-specific reports on the workforce of the future make it clear that leaders and employees alike are recognizing the potential in AI-human collaboration. Employees who are ready and willing to make this transformation need the tools and skills that enable their full participation. Firms that are able to make the leap to an applied intelligence workforce model will be the winners in the era of intelligent machines. Make sure your firm is one of them.

For more information about applied intelligence and the impact of AI on financial services, please see Accenture’s banking and insurance reports:

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