In the latest episode of Talking Agility, guest Luis Diaz Gutierrez looks at what happens at the intersection of people, work and technology—and shares four keys to effectively managing change.

$140 billion. That’s how much, according to Accenture research, that the North American financial services market could gain from artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. The gains are two-fold, from cost savings (automation) and productivity (augmentation). That same study also found that in financial services alone, up to 48 percent of jobs could be augmented by 2025. The study’s focused on financial services in North America, but there’s a lesson for other geographies and industries.

Key takeaway: Technologies like AI and automation are going to intersect with people, skills and roles. And in general, those technologies are going to enable people to do their jobs more effectively. For example, automating routine tasks so people can spend their time focusing on client needs.

In other words, think of Wolverine or Iron Man, who are amplified and augmented by technology, and who are still deeply human.

And that raises the question: How can you equip people to work with new technologies? And more important, how will you enable the workforce of the future to achieve their potential, which is critical to unlock the promise of new technologies?

Workforce transformation is often an afterthought of technology change, rather than a strategic value driver. Despite the size of this opportunity, most automation projects are still small-scale and siloed in nature, and this often dilutes the full value capture.

—Luis Diaz Gutierrez, global lead for Accenture’s Future Workforce practice

On the latest episode of Talking Agility, Luis Diaz Gutierrez joins Elitsa Nacheva to talk about the future of the workforce, and specifically what happens at the intersection of people and technology.

Luis is a managing director with Accenture Consulting, a global lead for our Future Workforce Practice and a good friend of mine. He’s based in Madrid, where the incredible disruption and fallout of the 2009 financial crisis has sparked lots of innovation in financial services.

In the podcast episode, Luis offers four keys to effecting real change:

  • Luis shares an example of a company where leaders at all levels—the C-suite and team leaders across every business and support function—genuinely believe that people are a core part of business transformation. And leadership alignment has been a priority for the company from the start. It’s also notable that the company’s current Global Head of Engineering (what they call their IT department) was previously its Global Talent & Culture Lead.
  • Agility, agility, agility. It’s a methodology but also a mindset, and Luis explains that within high performing companies, people are empowered to interpret what agile means for their role or function. That’s an example of aligned autonomy, in which people are able to take ownership for their work and make decisions within reasonable constraints.
  • Luis shares real-life examples of what a true learning organisation looks like. For example, one client encourages people to be entrepreneurs of their own skills and share knowledge with others. It couples that with a gamified program that rewards learners with credits that can be exchanged for additional, exclusive training. In other words, learning begets learning—and in this organisation, is a key skill for career advancement.
  • The workforce of the future will require both analytical and human skills. Luis explains how a client has been addressing this on two fronts: by reskilling current workers and hiring new talent from diverse backgrounds, including STEM but also humanities and the arts. The combination of the two enables the organisation to design more meaningful customer and employee experiences.

I especially appreciate his comments at the end of the conversation, about the connection between technologies and people. Specifically, that automation and AI will augment the workforce and boost productivity, and that does mean that some jobs will be lost. The key is for organisations to try to anticipate those job losses and reskill people into new roles in the organisation.

As Luis says, “It makes sense from a business perspective—and it’s also the truly human thing to do.”

 

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