Intelligent Automation: Creating the Workforce of The Future
Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | Raleigh
The Bloomberg Intelligent Automation Roadshow takes a deep dive into creating the workforce of the future. From mass relocations to mass resignations to massive changes in work processes, the future of work continues to change rapidly. To meet the demands of these changes — from both employees and clients — businesses are turning to technology solutions, and in particular to automation bolstered by AI. Digital solutions have always allowed workers to accomplish more with less, but while the digital transformations of the past few years were focused on mitigating shortages in labor and skills, the future is about using automation intelligently to actively close those gaps.
The pervasiveness of the labor shortage has increased the already rapid pace of digital transformation. Every aspect of business – customer service, manufacturing, operations, and research – has looked to automation to make up for the losses and the skill gaps in the workforce. Businesses are applying the latest innovations in intelligent automation to drive efficiency throughout the enterprise.
This enterprise-wide approach to optimizing operational efficiency allows businesses to dismantle data silos and connect systems so that information flows seamlessly, enabling timely responses to changes in demand and other events impacting the business.
Raleigh, North Carolina is known as a hub for advanced companies doing cutting-edge work in CleanTech, Advanced Manufacturing, and Life Sciences. These industries and others are integrating intelligent automation into the workflow to help with planning, predict customer needs, and alert workers to potential performance issues, for just a few examples.
The business and IT executives gathered for this briefing will share how their businesses have been impacted by the ongoing labor shortage, and how they have managed to overcome these challenges while maintaining, and in some cases even increasing, workplace efficiency and customer satisfaction.
- Joshua Bomba, Chief Information Technology Officer, State Employees’ Credit Union
- Troy Bryenton, Vice President, Information Technology, Syneos Health
- Jerry Cuomo, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Technology and Consulting
- Madhu Kochar, Vice President, Product Development, IBM Automation
- Amy Lewis, Senior Director, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, DICK’S Sporting Goods
- Trevor Pratt, Lead IT Architect, Duke Energy
- Agam Upadhyay, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, GSK
- Tim Young, Senior Vice President of HR Operations and Payroll, Pearson
- Sanjay Pal, Global Managing Director, Accenture Technology
- Diana Lee Caplinger, Executive Vice President, Head of Enterprise Enablement & Intelligent Automation, Truist
- Bryson Koehler, Chief Product, Data, Analytics & Technology Officer, Equifax
- Janet Wu, Anchor & Reporter, Bloomberg
- Brody Ford, Reporter, Bloomberg News
How has automation and AI integration changed how you do what you do?
As each speaker shared specifics about their individual roles within their companies, it became apparent that the human component of integrating automation was a challenge that they all face. Joshua Bomba, Chief Information Technology Officer, State Employees’ Credit Union said, “My role now is convincing the hearts and minds that we can leverage technology to solve these complex business problems…There is a good deal of herding and wrangling the cats.” The perceived threat that automation will replace them, rather than make their lives easier, is alive and well for many workers.
Madhu Kochar, Vice President, Product Development, IBM Automation said, “The hard thing is not the technology. It’s all about bringing people, the processes and the tech together…Everyone wants to be automated until it happens to you.” ”Trevor Pratt, Lead IT Architect, Duke Energy spoke of how IT leadership has a responsibility to impress upon staff that AI makes jobs better and even creates them, rather than replacing them. Pratt said, “Instead of spending all of their time focusing on the noise and just getting learning fatigue and everything else, allowing them to focus on the strategic part.
In response to whether human and digital workers could actually co-exist, Jerry Cuomo, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Technology and Consulting commented that while many companies would say that this is the future of their workplace, a company like Truist (who is already highly automated) would say it’s their present. Diana Lee Caplinger, Executive Vice President, Head of Enterprise Enablement & Intelligent Automation, Truist said, “Our job is to digitize and modernize the bank.” Part of that responsibility is “articulating the art of the impossible” to those outside of IT. Caplinger went on to say” IT used to be notetakers; now they are trusted advisors.” Cuomo said, “The hybrid workforce is not as far out as folks think.” The speakers agreed that although we all know humans are superior to machines, there is nothing more superior to a human and a machine working together.
What is the most common problem companies come to IBM to solve with automation?
Cuomo expressed that many companies come to IBM to help them bridge the chasm between IT and business saying, “There is a sense of the left hand not talking to the right hand. We are actively working on building an AI brain that has both business and IT awareness.” Amy Lewis, Senior Director, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, DICK’S Sporting Goods agreed, pointing out that many workers still don’t see that IT is a necessary and integral component to the business side of things. Lewis explained that it is all about demystifying technology saying, “I’m not just here to fix your computer. Dick’s is a technology company that also sells things.” Cuomo added that closing that gap “is the last outpost.” Sanjay Pal, Global Managing Director, Accenture Technology said “Technology is now everywhere but at the same time everyone wants the technology to be simplified. How do we ensure that all the enablement underneath the foundation is there so the scale is there.” He submitted that being able to demonstrate that success to the business people is critical.
How has the pandemic and resulting Great Resignation impacted your business?
The Great Resignation has impacted hiring and retention to previously unseen degrees. Lewis discussed how the pandemic forced us away from work/life balance to work/life integration. That is a key retention piece. Lewis said, “The people have spoken. We want flexibility.” She talked about how churn has always been there but that “people are being more bold. People want to be in charge of their own destiny. Troy Bryenton, Vice President, Information Technology, Syneos Health added, ““Employees are now in control. They can work anywhere. And with remote work, they can work anywhere.”
This impacts recruiting and the ability to fill positions with talent from a much larger and more diverse pool. Tim Young, Senior Vice President of HR Operations and Payroll, Pearson talked about how that wider recruitment effort benefits that company but also impacts what a company does to appear attractive to talent. Young said, “Now you can recruit in any geography so you have a much broader talent pool. So the reputation of your company becomes even more imperative.” Bryson Koehler, Chief Product, Data, Analytics & Technology Officer, Equifax wondered if media coverage of the Great Resignation has actually made the impact greater than it needed to be. Koehler said he ”thinks we could be creating problems because it’s being talked about so much in the media.”
New talent entering the labor market for the first time bring with them a host of unique skills and comfort levels with automation but they also bring unique challenges in terms of communication. Agam Upadhyay, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, GSK said that “I don’t think they require social skills. They have a conversation style; it’s just unique to them.” He shared that he understood the younger generation’s desires to be more immersed in technology. Upadhyay said, “You put on the Oculus and you are in a different world. I want to live in that world!” Tim Young, Senior Vice President of HR Operations and Payroll, Pearson submitted that automation could be useful in this capacity as well, making the hiring process a more enjoyable one. Young said, “You shouldn’t have to cringe when we have to deal with HR. It should be a pleasant experience…you need to make sure that engagement is a good one.”
The entire group seemed to agree that a mixture of in-person and remote work is the best way forward. Brody Ford, Reporter, Bloomberg News, emphasized that to do that successfully, we have to “create more collaborative spaces virtually.” That being said, for many there is no substitute for that of real human connection. Janet Wu, Anchor & Reporter, Bloomberg drove that emotion home saying, “There’s something magical about being here together, sharing ideas.”
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