Banking Future Workforce Survey—Part 2

Ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus wrote that “When one is willing and eager, the Gods join in.” In my first post of this series, I pointed out that bank executives believe their employees are resistant to AI and that, on average, only 26 percent of their workforce is ready to work with intelligent technologies. We think that pessimism is misplaced, as our survey of bank employees indicate that they are more willing and eager to work with AI than their bosses believe.

Banks need to seize this opportunity and leverage their employees’ enthusiasm for AI.

Of the more than 1,300 bank employees from large organizations who participated in our Future Workforce Survey, 40 percent are very confident in their abilities to work with intelligent technologies (vs. 33 percent cross-industry). Just over two-thirds said they believe AI will create opportunities in their work, while 72 percent expect it to make their jobs simpler. The majority foresee improved career prospects, while two out of three think AI will improve their work-life balance. Despite this optimism, they know these benefits won’t accrue automatically and 75 percent say it’s “important” or “very important” that they develop their skills to be able to work with AI over the next three to five years.

Our research identifies three primary ways in which machines will enable people to work more effectively:

  1. Machines will amplify the capabilities, effort, and impact of humans by allowing them to be smarter and more productive. For example, the combination of customer service chatbots plus live customer service representatives (CSRs) intervening where needed, will allow each employee to greatly increase their impact, both within the organization and with customers and partners.
  2. Machines will give humans the ability to interact with powerful databases and computing engines in unprecedented ways. Humans will be able to leverage insights that will enable meaningful personalization and support better decisions in areas like credit risk management or fraud detection.
  3. Machines will help bank employees better embody everything that the bank stands for. By converting principles, policies and processes into consistent human practices, interactions and experiences, machines will help the bank’s people understand what to do, when, and in which way. More than that, they will bring the vision of the bank to life in the form of a multitude of everyday actions.

Banks need to seize this opportunity and leverage their employees’ enthusiasm for AI. Their people are not only impatient to thrive in an intelligent enterprise that can disrupt markets and improve their working experience; they are also eager to acquire the new skills required to make this happen. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, only three percent of bank executives said their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in training programs in the next three years. This low level of commitment, at a time when a new era of work is imminent, will radically curtail their ability to deploy and benefit from AI at scale. This is the primary disconnect at the heart of our survey findings and a wake-up call for bank executives.

Banks fully capitalizing on human-machine collaboration depends on their ability to fundamentally reimagine work. It means redesigning jobs as people move to project-based work. It means refreshing traditional job descriptions and thinking more about the tasks and the interactions between humans and machines in executing those tasks, rather than traditional job descriptions. It also means ensuring that almost all bank employees are conversant with new IT skills and can master new tasks. The employees are willing and eager, so the c-suite gods of the banking industry must now join in to give them the help they need to thrive in the world of the intelligent enterprise.

I invite you to read the complete survey.

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