Creating the Workforce of the Future
March 30, 2022
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, and what the future will look like in terms of processes, jobs and customer experience.
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- Paul Antony, Senior Vice President of Technology, The Home Depot
- Sammy Assefa, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Innovation, U.S. Bank
- Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Head of Customer Lifecycle Data and ESG Technology, Deutsche Bank
- Angela Hood, Founder/CEO, ThisWay Global
- Bridget Karlin, Senior Vice President, Information Technology Operations, Kaiser Permanente
- Simon Letort, Chief Digital Officer & Head of Innovation, SG Americas
- Xingchu Liu, SVP, Enterprise Data Analytics and Tech, Macy’s
- Dinesh Nirmal, General Manager, IBM Automation
- Satyan Parameswaran, President, Information Technology, UPS
- Sean Reilley, Managing Director, Head of Process Optimization and Agile, Morgan Stanley
- Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer, Verizon Business
- Lisa Abramowicz, Anchor, Bloomberg TV
- Woo Jin Ho, Senior Hardware Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence
- Scarlet Fu, Anchor, Bloomberg Quicktake
- Caroline Hyde, Anchor, Bloomberg TV
- Mandeep Singh, TMT Team Lead & Senior Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence
Panel Discussion: Transforming the Enterprise for Optimal Efficiency
It’s a journey; one that commerce has been on since well before the pandemic. Panelists agreed it was a timely leg up on the sudden and dramatic shift. Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Head of Customer Lifecycle Data and ESG Technology, Deutsche Bank and Sean Reilley, Managing Director, Head of Process Optimization and Agile, Morgan Stanley spoke about challenging the norms; using AI such as chat bots, taking the tedium out of internal processes and improving customer experience.
At retailer Home Depot, the pandemic also meant dealing with supply chain issues and rolling out customer delivery. Paul Antony, Senior Vice President of Technology, said they had been working on an automated system for a while, but didn’t feel it was ready. The pandemic forced them to take a leap.“For 40 years, we’ve been building tech on top of tech, and we have been disassembling it more recently to build on a more modern stack.The earlier work came to fruition and helped us through the pandemic. It was a win-win.”
Dasgupta said Deutsche Bank is using AI to an extent to read and analyze documents, and an innovation team was formed to look at progressing AI, while mitigating fears about job losses.
At Morgan Stanley, their Centers for Expertise provides skills training and tools for governance. “You have to have all that together to move forward,” Reilley said.”We’re democratizing automation.”
All three stressed that human workers are not being phased out. Instead, they are trained to do higher-level tasks, can focus on resolving the more complex customer issues and are inspired by tech advances.
IBM Sponsor Spotlight: Can intelligent automation accelerate unbiased recruiting?
A deep dive into human resources and recruiting was promised by Dinesh Nirmal, General Manager, IBM Automation, particularly the need to accelerate recruitment of a diverse workforce and eliminate discrimination.
IBM partners with ThisWay Global, whose CEO, Angela Hood, started the company in response to her realization that “The world wasn’t what I hoped it was.”
Fresh out of engineering school, she was getting no responses to her resume, like her male counterparts, until she replaced her first name with her initials, A. L. “Everyone assumed I was a man and the phone started ringing.” Differences in background, scholastic and life experiences have proven to not be a factor in how workers accelerate their careers. AI removes the experiences “that make us look different on paper,” Hood said.
She added that when AI plays the role of an assistant, doing the work employees don’t want to do, it frees them to focus on high-value tasks and what they are passionate about. “That’s where you will see your workforce excel.”
Case Study: Verizon Business
Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer, Verizon Business said a reinvention of their workforce had much to do with AI, including workers being retrained to use a laptop rather than climbing a pole, At the same time, a significant percentage of their workers are relatively new – thousands hired during and after the pandemic regression, coming onboard as Verizon tackles new technology that includes a transition to customer-centric equipment setup. Now, they use AI to help employees like call center workers get up to speed quickly, and they accommodate customers who want a technician to come to their home or office, as well as “those who say, ‘Just give me the equipment.’ I wish we had done it years ago.”
What is he most excited about? 5G, of course. The ultra high bandwidth is a game-changer for users in kiosks and construction trailers, Sowmyanarayan, offering just two examples. It’s just in time for infrastructure upgrades needed as offices gear back up. “When we left two years ago, it was all voice communication. Now, we’re all on video, and demand for bandwidth is immense.”
Panel Discussion: Leveraging AI to Enhance the Customer Experience
How is automation offering a more meaningful customer experience?
It’s often the little things, Simon Letort, Chief Digital Officer & Head of Innovation, SG Americas, talked about using Natural Language Programming to assist in trading floor chat requests for quotes; a “big efficiency gain.”
At Macy’s online store, AI is connecting data and engaging with customers to help them enjoy an enriched shopping experience, and is empowering them to own their own style, said Xingchu Liu, SVP, Enterprise Data Analytics and Tech, Macy’s.
In their banking app, ranked 12th in the industry, AI drives communication to help customers achieve their goals, according to Sammy Assefa, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Innovation, U.S. Bank.
A now-familiar story is the key role AI played in developing and delivering the Covid-19 vaccines, said Bridget Karlin, Senior Vice President, Information Technology Operations, Kaiser Permanente. “Because of that, AI is now a core competency for drug development, and for overall healthcare, it’s helping us with patient engagement, which has been an issue in medicine.” She spoke further about connected wellness-monitoring devices, stating that the near-future will see 50 or more in the average home, and about “digital health twins.”.
Case Study: United Parcel Service
Every day, 250 million packages to eight to 10 million locations in 220 countries, that’s the biggest problem-solving challenge of them all, said Satyan Parameswaran, President, Information Technology, UPS, an engineer who spoke passionately about finding his niche in logistics.
AI has shifted the game, although UPS, in its 115 years, has always adapted to change, he said. “We were the first to use barcodes. We always try to push the envelope.”
Their proprietary platform, Harmonized Enterprise Analytics Tool (HEAT) translates 27,000 data transactions per second to create a birdseye view to assist human decision-makers at distribution hubs. It allowed UPS to shift dramatically during Covid-19 when deliveries went to homes instead of offices. It tracks external impacts, such as weather, to help adjust transit routes. Goals include saving costs,as well as the environment. Hundreds of millions in cost savings from advanced route planning also translates to several metric tons of emissions savings, Parameswaran said. And employees, especially drivers, benefit from carefully-planned delivery schedules, getting them home on time and assuring a work/life balance..
Will AI replace humans? “We don’t think so, Parameswaran said. “We will always have a need for the planner at the end-point.”
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