Intelligent automation (IA) might be the biggest opportunity for human resources in the financial services industry in a generation. As we’ve seen, IA could enable the industry to make a quantum leap in efficiency and service quality. HR needs to take action now to prepare organisations for the arrival of the IA tipping point.

But these operational benefits are just one aspect of what IA could mean to FS organisations. The technology holds just as much promise for improving the way FS firms recruit and manage talent.

A boost to HR’s capabilities in this area would be timely. A survey of technology hiring managers conducted by the recruiting website Indeed.com late last year found that 86 percent report that finding and hiring technical talent is a challenge. Almost as many feel that a tech talent shortage has hamstrung their business through lost revenue, increased employee burnout, or delayed product development and market expansion.

This shortage is driven by strong demand for cutting-edge technological skills. The digital revolution has brought firms from different industries into competition for the same technical experts. This quote from the CEO of General Motors sums up the situation nicely.

As IA changes businesses around the world, the intensity of this competition is likely to heat up.

More broadly, HR has known for a long time that people do their best work for employers that offer the best experience. A 2015 study from the workplace ratings website Glassdoor found that companies with satisfied employees outperformed the return of the S&P 500 by up to 122 percent between 2009 and 2014. A 2012 study from the American Psychological Association on workforce retention found that enjoying what they do is the top reason why people stay at their job.  

Anything that can help HR recruit the right IA people and make work more enjoyable and meaningful for the entire workforce, then, is likely to help FS firms secure competitive advantage. IA itself offers tremendous benefits here. Research from Accenture suggests that any plan to unlock these advantages needs to meet three criteria.

1 People first

Paradoxically, FS organisations will need to put people first to unlock the power of IA. HR’s initiatives should focus on enabling employees, partners and even customers to accomplish more with technology. Corporate culture should emphasize that IA is an ally for human capital, not a replacement. It will enable people to adapt, learn, and drive change like never before.

2 Technology rich

IA is a constellation of technologies that can create an efficient, adaptable, and agile business. The future of financial services will belong to HR firms who are best able to integrate it into their business function to drive operational improvements and make their organisations more exciting, rewarding places to work.

3 Focused

Human workers usually focus their expertise in a few areas. No one is an expert at everything. As technology advances and becomes more human, the same principle will apply to IA solutions. Each IA system will need specific business domain expertise in order to reason and deliver results.

Machines are hugely powerful, and becoming more capable every day. They will soon become the newest recruits to the digital workforce of FS firms.

The challenge for HR will be to blend human and machine intelligence in a way that brings out the best in both. Implementing the changes needed to make that happen will cause a ripple effect throughout each organisation, remaking the responsibilities of each role from the top of the org chart to the bottom.

HR teams that meet this challenge with focused, technologically rich solutions that keep people at the heart of their organisations will put their firms ahead of the pack. They will also empower their customers and clients in interactive, collaborative, and rewarding ways.

To learn more about how you can get started, please get in touch with me with the information below. Or read the full report on which this post is based, authored by my colleagues Yohann Bollack and Mitch Lassman, available here.

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