Banking on an automated world

Banking on an automated world

How the Cognitive Era will affect the financial services industry.

Principal Advisor, People & Change

KPMG in the UK

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The cognitive era has arrived, and automation is poised to make enterprise innovation more accessible than ever before. But how, exactly, that innovation is best positioned in an organization is a specific question defined more by the nuances of various industries than by broad strokes.

And one sector that’s no stranger to transformation is banking.

Banking organizations have undergone many periods of disruption in the last few decades, from the rise of debit to e-commerce and on through home banking technology. These, however, have been largely consumer-focused transformations, with each one intended to make life easier on the service side. In such a service-focused industry, cognitive automation provides opportunities to better meet customer expectations through increased efficiency or better outcomes.

But cognitive automation will not only shake up how people expect to do business with financial institutions, but also how financial institutions expect to operate at every single level internally, and even how those organizations plan to hire new talent for the future.

The manual entering, re-entering and verification of data behind the scenes at financial institutions makes banks an ideal benefactor for the cognitive revolution. Typically, no matter how diligent a worker is, there will always be some errors introduced, while automated services would allow these repetitive operations to be more standardized, performed quicker, and with less risk. As a result, workplace talent of the future will have to be more agile, and rather than spending as much of their time on keying in, and verifying data, as is the case today, tomorrow’s workforce will need advanced analytical skills to understand what that data means.

What this means for HR in the short-term is that current staff within banks will need to be prepared for the future, with capability development strategies that will allow them to find new opportunities within the new model. Operational activities are likely to be most affected by greater automation in the short term with those such as monitoring, reporting and data processing at highest risk.

However, while one of the biggest concerns about automation is the potential loss of jobs, it will be up to HR to take the cost-savings of a cognitive-enabled workplace and transfer those into more service-oriented positions and strategic business partnering roles that will support banks in improving the banking experience for their customers. For banks, automation presents as many opportunities as it does risks.

More than anything, however, the cognitive era will require new hiring practices that look for different qualities in employees, although the adoption of new technologies will not happen overnight. For the foreseeable future, different skill-sets will have to coexist. This means that one of the biggest impacts of the cognitive revolution will likely be on the culture of a workplace that is in transition.

In the short term automation cannot replace the human element, and by freeing up more time from operational activities it will allow banking leaders to refocus staff efforts on greater service oriented roles that increase the value add for the customer. This may be one of the first, and most obvious, ways this new era will begin to affect us all, no matter what sector we work in.

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