Creating the Workforce of the Future
April 13, 2022 | Boston
Companies across all sectors are leveraging the latest advancements in automation and AI to create seamless workflows between job functions and lines of business. Business and IT professionals shared how they have transformed their operations to break down silos and optimize efficiency, how workplace culture is changing, what the future will look like in terms of processes and customer experience, and the jobs that will remain.
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- Amy Brady, Chief Information Officer, KeyBank
- Bill Lobig, Vice President, IBM Automation Product Management, IBM
- Sears Merritt, Head of Technology & Data, MassMutual
- Nick Perugini, SVP & CIO, Corporate Functions & Capital Technology, General Electric
- Brad Sorenson, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Boston Scientific
- JoAnn Stonier, Chief Data Officer, Mastercard
- George Warner, Founder, Horizon View Services
- Mandeep Singh, TMT Team Lead & Senior Analyst & Host, “Tech Disruptors,” Bloomberg Intelligence
- Janet Wu, Anchor & Reporter, Bloomberg
Offering perspective, sponsor of the event, Bill Lobig, Vice President, IBM Automation Product Management, IBM, opened the session with a history lesson. Automation may seem the stuff of the future, but it goes back to the wheel and printing presses, boats and airplanes, he said.
Going forward, the most important aspect is to improve human productivity. “IBM wants to help people be their best,” Lobig said. “How much time in your day is devoted to that?”
Enabling Efficiency: How Much Work Can be Automated
Panelists addressed the question that underscores everything; What jobs will be phased out? The unanimous answer was “none,” with solid rationale to back it up. Amy Brady, Chief Information Officer, KeyBank said they started automation “back when it was believed all jobs would be eliminated,” and they have not lost one yet. “It’s about restructuring.” Brad Sorenson, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Boston Scientific spoke about the crucial, yet highly-tedious task of inspecting artery stents, and how their machines have learned what good and bad looks like; they now make decisions, freeing up human professionals to pursue their greater potential.
When it comes to customer experience, the infallibility of machines is part of the due diligence needed when producing life-saving devices, Sorenson said. Brady added that while KeyBank may not be in the life-saving business, people get passionate about their money. “Consumers want their banking app to be as easy to use as any app on their phone.” The groundbreaking innovation in banking? The digital signature. It had impact across the board, and during the pandemic, led to KeyBank writing the third-highest number of community loans in the U.S..
On the sheer volume and instant-accessibility of data, Brady called it the fuel for digitization, but warned that it “increases the attack surface.” Sorenson agreed and said that data has to be protected as an asset.
They spoke also to talent, mainly to leveraging employee knowledge of processes and pain points by reskilling. Sorenson was struck by the similarities between the two very different industries, when it comes to moving their workforces forward, advising that automation and upskilling be parallel processes, so employees trust in job preservation. “The goal is not to eliminate them,” he said, adding that when encouraged, “they will seek out opportunities to make their jobs more efficient.”
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Lobig was back on stage to talk with George Warner, Founder, Horizon View Services, who had compelling tales to tell of working with state agencies in New York. Addressing the “chaos” of invoice processing, with each of 57 agencies using their own method, brought efficiency and economic improvements at many levels, but the most important success for automation in their systems is keeping children safe, he said. Background checks for adoptive parents, for instance, once took four months. Now, robots do it overnight.
Working with Veterans Affairs meant expediting health services simply by untangling the paperwork snarl, getting information where it needs to be in less than two days, instead of months. And instead of eliminating jobs, “Thousands of workers are now available to do other things due to automation. Every organization has important things there is never time to do.”
Bloomberg Intelligence Presentation: How Could Metaverse Enable Automation & Transform Work
Mandeep Singh, TMT Team Lead & Senior Analyst & Host, “Tech Disruptors,” Bloomberg Intelligence unpacked the mysteries of Metaverse, calling it simply the “evolution of the Internet.” The 3D environment offered by VR/AR, and the entertainment quotient of the gaming world, is coming into play for business meetings and presentations.
Singh offered charts that spell out every nuance of this brave, new world of online engagement. Expect it to show up across industries, including travel, home-buying, factory floor monitoring, NFTs and tokens, and virtual/live concerts, with 5G connectivity “almost table stakes.” Singh pointed out top companies changing the game in this space include “Unity, Roblox, Verizon.”
He predicted Metaverse will scale up ecommerce, already a $4 trillion market, and be the next iteration of social media. “This is why Facebook changed its name to Meta.”
AI, Data, Automation: The Digital Roadmap to Transform Work
Have we been asking for too much? It was a compelling question from JoAnn Stonier, Chief Data Officer, Mastercard. Businesses are not seeking less-capable workers, but a diversity of talent and experience “to create products and solutions for the next generation.” Stonier suggested being more flexible about college degrees and other job requirements, and talked about using AI to create “Unlocked,” a program that allows employees to try different fields within the company.
When a 171-year-old insurance company is buying cryptocurrency, they’ve left “old school” behind. Sears Merritt, Head of Technology & Data, MassMutual spoke about instating new policies in minutes, instead of weeks, tracking customers to introduce them to services when they need them, and using AI at the top of the funnel to speed up marketing campaigns.
With a workforce of almost 200,000, spread across the globe, upping efficiency at GE has been a tough, yet rewarding endeavor, made easier by employees themselves. “It does start with that lean mindset and culture,” said Nick Perugini, SVP & CIO, Corporate Functions & Capital Technology, General Electric. Engaging 1,400 associates in a Waste Walk Week, they asked them to look at the work they do, the outcome, and how it could either be simplified or automated. “Just in the course of a week, we eliminated over 25,000 non-value hours.”
The “quote of the day” came from Stonier. She heard it from a colleague years ago, but it could not be more relevant today. “Work the margins of your ignorance.”
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