The leaders of the future are already looking at how they will harness the next generation of disruptive technologies to reinvent work and jobs in a way that drives exponential improvements in business performance.

Over the course of this blog series, I’ve looked at how automation and augmentation could potentially disrupt the financial services (FS) workforce. With this concluding post, I will offer a practical action plan for taking advantage of intelligent technology and the capabilities it gives the organization.  

To build their new machine-augmented workforce and drive optimal value from artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation, FS firms should leverage predictive analytics and AI to understand and shape their future workforces. And they must nurture a culture of lifelong learning. 

To keep pace with a changing world, organizations must take a deliberate approach to designing the jobs, skills and tasks of the future. They will need new tools and the organizational structure to accommodate new ways of working—for example, organizing skills and tasks around projects and project teams rather the traditional “one role, one worker” job description.  

There will always be a need for people with full-time jobs, but the assumption that one role equals one human being is being eroded every day. FS organizations thus need to map jobs, roles, tasks and processes, and gain an understanding of where they should build, buy, borrow or bot 

  • Build the workforce’s competences from within; 
  • Buy capabilities through external recruitment;
  • Borrow by creating multidisciplinary teams with capabilities acquired from other departments from within the organization or external partners; or 
  • Automate by assigning specific tasks to a robot or AI.  

Continuous learning opportunities—customized for the individual in an on-demand digital environment—are essential in keeping the workforce prepared for the changes and challenges tomorrow may bring. The transition will be complex—many of the new-age skills cannot be easily taught in the classroom and must be acquired through practical application and experience. (We explore this theme in more detail in our Future Talent Platform report.)    

Accenture identifies three key steps in the journey towards the automated and augmented FS workforce of the future

1. IGNITE THE WORKFORCE STRATEGY DISCUSSION 

  • Set and communicate the vision: Paint a vision of the future of a transformed organization powered by new technology and people with highly-valued skills, meaningful roles and promising careers. 
  • Start a dialogue with the workforce: Seek views from them about how they view the future of work, their fears, and their aspirations. 
  • Decompose jobs into tasks. Allocate work to machines and people, balancing the need for automation and augmentation. 
  • Move beyond legacy job descriptions and create new skills profiles. Unbundle tasks and skills-based responsibilities, then reconfigure them into new, fluid roles. Free people from functional roles and build project-based teams. 
  • Map skills to jobs. Assess the internal capabilities required and map them to existing skills. Then reskill, new-skill and source new talent. 
  • Rethink career frameworks. Shift from vertical career paths to a career matrix that offers movement in more directions for members of the workforce.  
  • Evaluate how the complete build, buy, borrow or bot picture will look in your business.  
  • Taking company culture and economics into account, prioritize augmentation and automation deployments.    

2. PIVOT THE WORKFORCE

  • Align the workforce to new business models. Orientate it to support new customer experiences.  
  • Make the business case. Use automation to fuel growth by reinvesting savings in the workforce.  
  • Use the Human + Machine concept (augmentation) to have humans and machines doing more of what they do best. 
  • Organize for agility. Create flexible processes; build the structures that support the assembly and disassembly of teams.  
  • Expand the concept of an employee and build an adaptive workforce. Creative sourcing of talent must now include digital platforms, as well as creative engagement with talent ecosystems. 
  • Build rapid prototypes, test, learn, improve, refine, then kill or scale. 

3. SCALE UP ‘NEW SKILLING’

  • Prioritize skills for development. Strike the balance between technical, judgment, and social skills.  
  • Target newskilling. Assess different levels of skills and willingness to learn. Cater to these different levels. 
  • Protect humans from displacement from automation to the extent possible. Create a culture of self-directed, continuous learning that empowers people to develop the new skills and capabilities they need to thrive in a changing world.  
  • Develop a learning culture: Provide the workforce with a continuous, collaborative, highly flexible and personalized learning environment. Curate on-demand learning experiences for the individual. 
  • Structure learning for employees’ busy lives. Techniques such as microlearning can help cultivate lifelong learning in the workforce. Microlearning entails breaking up large, complicated concepts into small chunks that easily fit into the schedule of a busy professional. 
  • Leverage the new generation of experiential learning tools and technologies. Experiential learning is active, immersive, and based on real-world experiences. It encourages learners to experiment and incorporates teamwork and other social interactions. Use  virtual and augmented reality to accelerate the speed and scale of effective training. Deploy design thinking, digital learning boards and other tools to democratize training. 

The time for pilots, proofs of concept and piecemeal automation projects is over. FS organizations must take a strategic approach to augmentation and automation of work if they are to emerge as the winners from this period of unprecedented change and innovation.  

Read Workforce 2025: The Financial Services Skills & Roles of The Future for more insight into how your organization can respond to the opportunities of a perfect storm of industry and technology change.

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