Creating the Workforce of the Future
September 13, 2022 | Singapore
Companies across all sectors are leveraging the latest advancements in automation and AI to create seamless workflows between employees and lines of business. At this briefing, business and IT executives shared stories about how they have transformed operations to break down silos and optimize efficiency. They also discussed the ways in which workplace culture is changing and what processes and customer experience will look like in the future.
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- Gautam Aggarwal, Regional Chief Technology Officer, Mastercard
- Sham Arora, Global Head, Enterprise Technology, Standard Chartered Bank
- Alex Costa, Program Director, Cloud Operations & Engineering, PROS
- Kevin Lam, Head of TMRW and Group Digital Banking, UOB
- Rajat Mittal, Managing Director, Digital & Technology, Mercatus Co-operative Limited
- James Tan, Director, Smart District Division, JTC
- Dennis Wong, Vice President Enterprise and 5G Platforms, Singtel
- Michelle Jamrisko, Senior Asia Economy Reporter, Bloomberg
- Janet Wu, Anchor and Reporter, Bloomberg
Intelligent automation: “That’s the only way an enterprise can survive and succeed in the next decade. I truly believe that,” said Dinesh Nirmal, General Manager, IBM Data, AI, and Automation. From dishwashers that free up time for high-value tasks to voice recognition that can facilitate the delivery of fast-food orders, automation creates happy customers, Nirmal said. Change, he continued, is inevitably coming for all aspects of life. His guiding philosophy: “If everything in life is a workflow, then life can be automated.”
Panel Discussion: Transforming the Enterprise for Optimal Efficiency
“What it comes down to is, how do you continue to serve your clients in a predictable manner to provide safe and secure services which they are able to enjoy all the time,” said Sham Arora, Global Head, Enterprise Technology, Standard Chartered Bank. He pointed out that even as client demand is growing, regulations are increasing at an even faster pace. Arora recalled his team building the first global payment system 20 years ago, and celebrating when it was processing one-million payments per month.Today, that system generates more than 2,000 per second.
Rajat Mittal, Managing Director, Digital & Technology, Mercatus Co-operative Limited, described creating front-end agility and digitally connecting millions of customers as key tools used by his real-estate company. A culture of experimentation led his team to paperless processes. “It sounds simple, but when you start to peel the onion, you find ways to automate things that have never been thought about before,” Mittal said.
The panel spoke about automation being an exponential job creator, not a destroyer. Arora noted that as paying digitally becomes more convenient, demand rises rapidly, and huge teams are needed to maintain the processes and avoid risk. Standard Chartered established a learning culture early on, he said, recognizing that there will be a degree of job loss. Daily learning also has culled the workforce. “There will always be job-jumpers. But the real knowledge-hungry workers want to stay with us.”
With automation and data collection comes a host of regulation needs. “Tech is changing faster than the regulators can keep up, ” Mittal said. “And when you inject ethics, it’s not law, but what a company thinks is the right thing to do.”
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Dinesh Nirmal spoke with Alex Costa, Program Director, Cloud Operations & Engineering, PROS, about the “huge opportunities for automations on the IT side.”
Costa began with a fun fact; while PROS may have relatively low name-recognition, the company processes more transactions than Visa. Thirty years ago, PROS was launched with the goal of solving the problem of airline overbooking, Costa said. PROS software has evolved now into a technology that can analyze every data entry point every time a user does a search for a booking. Nirmal and Costa also talked about deployment and finding a balance between need and over-provisioning resource-management systems. “You need to use automation to gain visibility into your operations, to take action in deployment, toward optimizing,” Costa said.
Leveraging AI to Enhance the Customer Experience
On where automation is headed, Gautam Aggarwal, Regional Chief Technology Officer, Mastercard, said his company understands that payments are just one piece of the value chain. “We will take it to more data-enabled analytics, figure out fraud and, more importantly, how we upscale/cross sell for the merchants.”
Understanding the tech evolution in the telecom industry, said Dennis Wong, Vice President of Enterprise and 5G Platforms, Singtel, means recognizing that telecom providers must be more than just telcos. Singtel is constantly examining its business from various perspectives, including data analytics, AI and security. “We believe that working is not just about providing connectivities to the customer. It’s about going through the digital journey with the customer,” Wong said.
Kevin Lam, Head of TMRW and Group Digital Banking at UOB, said his organization’s goal is to build one platform for customers across Asia. But that’s quite a task, given the different regulations, languages, cultures and service expectations. “You need a lot of patience if you want to build something across Southeast Asia, whether it’s technology or any other business,” Lam said. Key is having a diverse team, he continued. UOB hires from multiple markets in the region, as well as from other parts of the world.
The panel also spoke about measuring the success of improvements to client services, spending more than a billion dollars on new technology, saving money with automation and differentiating from the competition. Another topic: why 5G is a critical technology, when it will become more affordable in Singapore, and dealing with customer skepticism.
Keynote / Case Study
JTC is building the first smart district in Singapore, now set to be completed in 2024, and James Tan, Director, Smart District Division at JTC, offered lots of intriguing details. The goal, he said, is to attract the best talent and tech companies to the district and to make it a place where people want to work and live. One strategy: create unique functionality and connectivity that goes beyond standalone systems. Businesses, residents and visitors will become co-creators as their needs are met with smart solutions, Tan said. Buildings and the environment will be managed by AI and digital twinning, and all connectivity will be free. A “very critical” layer of connectivity will allow all systems to communicate.
Tan said the District’s primary goals are sustainability, convenience, improving the regional economy and creating a model to be used elsewhere in the country. Similar projects are planned “everywhere,” he said. “Which is why we need to do this. If not, we will be left behind.”
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