The “sad truth” of banking is that not as many employees will be required in the future as they are now, Deutsche Banks’ chief executive told a conference in Frankfurt yesterday.
“In our bank we have people doing work like robots. Tomorrow we will have robots behaving like people. It doesn’t matter if we as a bank will participate in these changes or not, it is going to happen,” he reportedly said.
The trusty accountant may be one of the first roles to go, as Cryan referred to some accountants inside the bank who “spend a lot of time basically being an abacus” that would be replaced by machines.
His remarks, reported by the German publication Handelsblatt, mirror those of Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England in November 2015.
“A more progressive strategy lies in creating a culture of positive change where those feeling the most threatened voice their concerns and directly influence the technological decisions”
Haldane predicted that robots will be able to take on more work with up to 15 million jobs in the UK at risk. These are not just from the low-skilled jobs traditionally impacted by machinery, but that skilled occupations including administrative, clerical and production tasks were included.
“While there will be inevitable job losses, a more progressive strategy lies in creating a culture of positive change where those feeling the most threatened voice their concerns and directly influence the technological decisions,” says Charles Gannon, international financier and founder of Rockton Global Treasury Services.
“Those same employees can be empowered and re-trained to focus on the core value added activities that robots can never deliver,” says Gannon – previously the EMEA treasurer for software firm Novell.
A whitepaper released this week by Ricoh found that the huge majority (98%) of workers are enthusiastic about technology revolutionising the workplace.
Many survey respondents were hopeful that leaders would invest in the right technology that frees up workers to focus on more important and complex tasks. The result will see workers taking on more fulfilling tasks and job satisfaction rising.
“Workers already know the speed and convenience that digital solutions can bring to their personal lives; and they now expect and increasingly demand the same at work,” says Ramanan Ramakrishna, service innovation and portfolio, infrastructure services, Fujitsu EMEIA.
“With the overwhelming sentiment optimistic – 98% are positive about the potential of new technology to empower them to work in smarter ways – it is up to businesses to implement the right technology which meets their compliance requirements yet does not curb the creativity and freedom of the workforce,” Ramakrishna says.
Ricoh surveyed over 3,500 employees across Europe and reported that 65% believe that automation will positively impact the way they work.
Within the next two years, 41% believe they will perform fewer repetitive tasks and 32% believe they will have more time to focus on important projects.
This could be achieved by automation tools like virtual assistants, robotic process automation (RPA) and others powered by cognitive technologies being used to deliver a boost in business productivity.
“At the same time, upskilling will be crucial to train employees to work alongside complex technology-driven processes while taking on more challenging and creative tasks,” says Ramakrishna.
“Shifting the focus to highly valuable, engaging work will also improve job satisfaction and ultimately help close the productivity gap that European businesses face.
“AI will be harnessed to improve customer service and increase customer volumes. This effect will mean that similar levels of jobs will be created to those that are lost”
“Through a combination of smart automation and upskilling, technology businesses can improve their own services and retain modern-day employees that enable the business to subsequently grow as well,” Ramakrishna adds.
Ben Musgrave, principal consultant, data and analytics at Synechron, believes that while jobs will change, they should not be lost.
“AI has the power to vastly expand the offerings available to customers and expand the number of customers,” says Musgrave. “Our belief at Synechron is that AI will be harnessed to improve customer service and increase customer volumes. This effect will mean that similar levels of jobs will be created to those that are lost,” he says.
“Our belief at Synechron is that AI will be harnessed to improve customer service and increase customer volumes. This effect will mean that similar levels of jobs will be created to those that are lost.
“Furthermore as the repetitive unskilled jobs are automated it will be higher skilled, higher salaried, more interesting jobs that are created. This should have a net beneficial effect for customers, workers and shareholders alike,” Musgrave adds.