As leaders in financial services think about outside-in change, they must remember that digital transformation needs a human edge and reconcile for a digital+human future.

As financial services (FS) firms look to leverage outside-in change and develop their roadmap for true digital transformation, it is also crucial to remember that this revolution has a human edge. I’ve recently blogged about the growth of digital skills and our research into the impact of AI on the workforce. In this blog I look at how the future of work is both more digital and more human.

According to Accenture research, 54 per cent of business leaders believe human-machine collaboration is important to achieve their strategic priorities. 61 per cent expect the share of roles requiring collaboration with artificial intelligence (AI) to increase in the next three years. Major growth opportunities exist, if we pivot the workforce and equip people to work with intelligent technologies. Our research shows that three out of four FS firms will significantly automate tasks and processes in the next three years and almost all believe AI will used to augment human capabilities. 67 per cent of employees believe AI will create new opportunities for work. In short the future of banking and insurance will be ‘human+machine’.

Leaders in FS need to begin thinking of ways to prepare for a digital and human future. Digital transformation can be scary – people often fear change and feel like their jobs are at threat. To overcome this, leaders need to recognise with constant innovation and disruption, it is key to value, nurture, respect and empower people.

Outside-in change will transform the FS workforce and work itself in several ways. Digital will radically disrupt how work is organised, driving open operating models and collaboration within organizations but also with the outside world. It will also impact what work is performed as automation replaces and augments the human worker, but also as ecosystem partners combine together to form new financial services value chains. And as digital democratises everything it will change who performs the work, with more tasks and activities sourced from the market, around a consistent core set of roles and wider adaptive workforce.

Here are some key considerations for FS leaders to preserve the human edge in digital transformation:

  • Foster an environment for innovation. Get people talking and playing together. Bringing the outside in through the ecosystem isn’t just a resource supply; networks and partners are also crucial sources of new ideas. Traditional FS players also need to let go of their allegiance to hierarchy and empower decision-making at different levels. They will then need to work on moving innovation from ‘cool’ to ‘value’ to ‘at scale.’
  • Cultivate a living business culture. As I’ve noted before in this series, digital transformation is not merely about technology, it’s also about culture. Leaders in FS need to tell a story and vision that connects with purpose. Leadership at all levels will need to inspire that vision for change across the whole organisation. Handling disruption positively and with integrity will be key to nurture human workers. Digital transformation needs more authentic leaders ready to serve their customers and colleagues.
  • Accelerate change and develop true agility. This is about co-creating new change with customers and colleagues. Change from the outside in will require FS firms to create adaptive organisations and infrastructure capable of responding to disruption and opportunity, including fluid organization structures and multi-disciplinary teams that can reshape around new priorities.
  • Grow your new workforce. The digital+human future will lead to more contingent labour and robots in the workforce. For the existing workforce, FS leaders should foster learning and a mind set for growth – it will be necessary for individuals and teams to skill and reskill multiple times over in new careers. Key talent will go away from the organization and come back, sometimes multiple times over. While not employees in the legal sense, firms need to understand the talent supply in the contingent workforce and know where they are and what they are doing inside the organization.

Future value lies at the intersection of digital+human. A people-first culture will enable a successful digital transformation for FS firms and a more outside in approach to change.

To find out more about digital transformation in FS or join one of our Change Director Forums run around the world, please contact me here, or on Twitter @AndyYoungACN.

With special thanks to Elitsa Nacheva and John Watson.

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