What will the future look like? With artificial intelligence and automation impacting business models, customer engagement and operations, insurers know that they need to build a workforce with digital-era skills. But exactly what are those skills and how can the workforce acquire them?

Digital-age insurance demands agility. To stay relevant and to thrive, insurers must be able to respond rapidly to market changes and customer needs. Advanced technologies are part of the solution but so are uniquely human skills—true value will be found where intelligent technology and human ingenuity meet, according to Accenture’s research. To facilitate this human-machine collaboration, insurers’ workforces need to build a very specific set of skills. Accenture calls them ‘missing middle’ skills.

What are these missing middle skills?

Accenture’s research identifies the top skills now in demand and looks at how insurers are responding. To help guide managers and workers in developing the skills needed and to help insurers form teams with the necessary skills, Accenture has also created a skills and intelligence matrix.

How insurers are responding

Globally, financial services companies are clear about the value of intelligent technologies. Accenture’s econometric modelling forecasts that insurers that commit fully to human-machine collaboration will, over the next five years, increase both revenue (by 17 percent) and employment (by 7 percent).

Accenture’s 2018 Future Workforce Survey of senior insurance executives and workers gives us the following insight:

However there seems to be a disconnect.

While most insurance CXOs in our survey said their organisation plans to invest in intelligent technologies over the next three years, only 4 percent plan to significantly increase their investment in reskilling programmes in the next three years.

What if we could build a transformation business case not on headcount reduction but on the growth potential of reskilling the workforce to increase revenue?

What I am seeing is concerning.

In my experience, organisations are building their business transformation business case on headcount reduction. This sparks off a redundancy programme which causes uncertainty and anxiety in the organisation. There is another, better option.

What if we could build a business case not on headcount reduction but on the growth potential of reskilling the workforce to focus on higher value to increase revenue?

With adoption of AI expected to transform the industry and enterprises fast, these skills questions have become a priority in almost every one of my engagements with leading insurers in the UK. However, without insight into how the workforce needs to change, what skills are needed and how they could be acquired, many insurers are stalling. This makes Accenture’s recent research into changing workforce skills very relevant.

To understand the changing skills demand, Accenture reviewed US Department of Labour occupational data, analysing the evolution of jobs and skills over the last decade. We also took a specific look at how jobs and skills are changing in the global financial services arena.

Join me next week as I take a closer look at these results and discuss how skills requirements are evolving and what insurers need to focus on to thrive in the emerging ‘experience era’.

In the meantime, for more on the impact of AI on the workforce and the skills they now need, click through to Accenture’s research: Future Workforce Survey – Insurance, Realising the Full Value of AI, and Missing middle skills for human-AI collaboration.

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