Automation is clearly a two-edged sword. While applying automation, robotics and artificial intelligence capabilities to business processes can help businesses boost efficiency, quality and profitability, the resulting displacement of human workers can also inflict damage to the very fiber of the organization.
Rather than focusing on how these technologies will replace humans, however, I prefer to concentrate on how—as with other technologies—robotics and AI can augment the continuing evolution in the scope and scale of human intelligence.
The fact is, while automation will cause certain jobs to disappear, similar fears arose decades ago when computers began to proliferate. And while some jobs did go away, new ones were also created—more, in fact, than were lost.
A more pertinent question, then, is what the role of human workers will be relative to technology going forward. As AI and robotics take hold in the midst of Digital Disruption 2.0, fascinating job opportunities are emerging in areas such as data science, predictive analytics and digital marketing.
These new jobs will demand different capabilities, a need that presents businesses such as banks with opportunities to reskill their people. As routine tasks increasingly move to automated kiosks and digital interfaces, for example, tellers could be retrained as relationship managers who focus on engaging customers, not just completing their transactions.
As we move further into the future, AI and robotics will open up further opportunities for innovation. Considered in a strategic light, these technologies could augment the considerable human work required to evolve into the next era of digital banking. Even robo-advisors—which might seem threatening to the future of work for human financial advisors—were imagined and built by people. We’re seeing financial services organizations today tread the middle ground by using a hybrid advisory approach, called “bionic advisory,” in which robo-advisors fulfill basic activities, such as portfolio allocation and recommendations, and human financial advisors help clients make more strategic and complex decisions, in such areas as wealth planning, trusts and mortgages.
Uncertainty is an unavoidable outcome of change. In my next post, I’ll discuss how to navigate the what ifs and maybes of the digital transformation now underway.