In this series, we’ve looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the impact of the trends and technologies that were already disrupting financial services (FS). It has also brought bank-customer relations to a crossroads that could see the industry address the low trust of customers in areas like personalized advice.

This presents an urgent challenge to most of the industry to transform its workforce and talent practices to realize the full potential of automation and intelligent augmentation technologies.

We’ve also presented a high-level strategy for starting this process: breaking jobs into tasks and analyzing them through the “build, buy, borrow or bot” framework.

In this final post we’re going to tackle the challenge from the perspective on the ground and present a three-step future-ready strategy for the FS workplace.

Step 1: Continue the conversation that began with COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has created a new paradigm of employee-employer relations by highlighting the vital need for employers to earn and keep the trust of workers. (For more on making this happen, read this report from Accenture.) At some companies, workforce conversations have reached new levels of empathy.

As the immediate crisis fades, this presents a perfect moment to bring intelligent augmentation and automation into the workforce conversation. Successful adoption of these tools will require a major change management effort, and those need to start with transparent, empathetic dialogue.

This will involve:

  • Setting and communicating a powerful vision of the future.
  • Seeking meaningful input from the workforce.
  • Rethinking career frameworks.
  • Mapping skills to jobs.
  • Choosing specific augmentation and automation deployments that are sensitive to company culture and economics.
  • Evaluating the impact of regulation and legislation on automation and augmentation strategy.

Step 2: Pivot the workforce

Once the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to begin the actual workforce transition to working with augmentation and alongside automation.

This transformation must align with the new elastic digital workplace practices that have proliferated since the pandemic. Some workers will be more productive working from home permanently; others feel that it destroys their work-life balance.

The automated and augmented future of work in financial services must also include seamless networking, adaptive security, and other dimensions of elastic digital work to allow every employee to work in the way that maximizes their individual productivity.

Concrete actions should include:

  • Aligning the workforce to use new business models and support new customer experiences.
  • Reinvesting the savings of automation and augmentation into the workforce to fuel growth.
  • Using a “human+” model that employs machines to allow humans to do what they do best.
  • Organizing for agility.
  • Expanding the concept of an employee and building an adaptive workforce.

Step 3: Scale up “new skilling”

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push online workforce learning past the tipping point. This could make a post-pandemic workforce better suited to rapidly absorbing the new skills and information needed to work in a “human+” system.

Scaling up “new skilling” will involve:

  • Protecting humans from displacement from automation to the maximum extent possible.
  • Developing a learning culture to provide the workforce with a continuous, collaborative, highly flexible and personalized learning environment.
  • Leveraging the new generation of experiential learning tools. Deploying design thinking, digital learning boards and other tools to democratize training.
  • Embracing a new digital transformation powered by the cloud to create an engine for continuous innovation.

Grasping the nettle of automation and augmentation

With augmentation and automation poised to deliver up to $140 billion of value to financial services in North America alone, embracing these technologies is a C-suite imperative. Unlocking their full potential will mean overcoming many challenges. The coronavirus pandemic has made this transition more urgent, difficult and rewarding than ever before.

Business leaders will play a crucial role in leading the workforce and the organization through this time of disruptive change. But these technologies cannot be the responsibility of senior executives alone because their impact will reach every corner of the business.

Organizations that are able to grasp the nettle of automation and augmentation will be able to create superior customer experiences and operating models. They will also unlock a more productive and innovative workforce that will define them as winners in tomorrow’s marketplace.

If you’re interested in kick-starting this process in your organization, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached here.

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