HSBC: The most important intelligence isn’t artificial

HSBC has predicted the key roles of the future workforce (Image gorodenkoff / iStockPhoto)

HSBC predicts six roles of the future that are not heard of today but says that three core skills continue to differentiate humans from machines in the workforce.

According to the bank’s recently published report Human Advantage: The Power of People, the three core skills include curiosity, creativity, and communication.

“As machines will continue to take on the more robotic processes, increased emphasis will be placed on our ‘most human’ resources; qualities like curiosity, creativity and empathy will continue to set us apart from machines,” said applied futurist and co-author of the report Tom Cheesewright.

While those six future roles are predicted for the banking sector, they are of reference values for other businesses as some similar trends are emerging across the board.

Employers need to help workers in life long learning

“Many of those roles are unknown to us today,” said Andrew Connell, Global Head of Innovation and Partnerships and Asia Pacific Head of Digital, RBWM, HSBC. “One thing is certain, however - artificial intelligence will not replace human intelligence.

Lifelong learning and the need to upskill employees will be required, as a result of the new roles, the report says.

“Employers have a huge role to play in helping people to continue their personal development, including working with existing staff to upskill them,” said Andrew Connell, Global Head of Innovation and Partnerships and Asia Pacific Head of Digital, RBWM, HSBC.

According to him, HSBC has a number of training programs in place: Frontline employees in seven core markets have attend a weekly digital upskilling program called ‘Digital Thursdays’, led by the bank’s ‘Digital Champions’.

The bank also has a digital leadership program to help senior managers gain a greater understanding of digital trends and how these relate to customer needs, he added.

HSBC said it is currently recruiting for more 1,000 digital roles globally, of which more than 500 are based in Asia Pacific. Some of these roles include UI designers, digital product managers, software engineers, solution architects, exploratory testers, and delivery managers.

The six roles of the future

According to the report, the six future roles include the following:.

Mixed reality experience designer
Mixed, or augmented reality (MR/AR) will be the primary interface to the digital world in the future. Overlaying our physical world with a layer of digital data allows us to create any imaginable character or object and locate them in physical space as if they were real, and this technology will likely be used to carry out some of our banking needs in the future.

Key skills: Designing these complex three-dimensional interfaces and making them slick and intuitive will be a major new employment area for the future, requiring skills in aesthetic design, branding, user experience and 3D mechanics.

Algorithm mechanic
A rising proportion of decision-making is made by algorithms, fed on a variety of input data to reach rapid conclusions. Constantly tuning these algorithms to optimize banking customer experience, and avoid ‘computer says no’ moments, will be a skill in growing demand.

Key skills: As we shift to a low-code/no-code environment for technology operation, this role will require skills in risk management, service design, and financial literacy, rather than technological proficiency.

Conversational interface designer
While instructions for chatbots used to be complex strings of code, humans can now speak to machines and they will interpret needs. Conversational interface design is an emerging skill that helps to take the best advantage of voice and text chatbots.

Key skills: Building natural, low-friction interfaces that go beyond solving immediate challenges to surprise and delight customers requires a mixture of creative, linguistic, and anthropological skills.

Universal service advisor
The separation between digital, physical and remote service environments is breaking down. At any moment a customer may want serving in a branch, via chat app, voice, or in augmented or virtual reality. As mixed reality becomes the main interface between people and machines, highly skilled service agents, empowered to support customers across a variety of products, will be able to switch seamlessly between virtual and physical environments from anywhere anytime to meet customer needs.

Key skills: Critical skills for tomorrow’s customer advisor are a combination of product and domain knowledge with excellent customer communication and empathy. This will require a level of comfort with the key communications technologies, including performing in a virtual environment.

Digital process engineer
Many banking customer interactions – from onboarding to replacing a lost card – follow standardized flows that balance security and regulatory requirements with the desire for a slick customer experience. The rate of change of these processes is likely to increase, as is their complexity, as they combine service and information components from multiple sources. A digital process engineer analyses, assembles and optimizes these workflows, adjusting them constantly to maximize throughput and minimize friction.

Key skills: The digital process engineer will need great discovery skills, to understand large and interconnected workflows and diagnose problems and bottlenecks, and creative skills to help them to prototype and test solutions.

Partnership gateway enabler
In an increasingly networked business world, the digital relationships with banking partners, like fintechs and global technology firms, will need careful monitoring, maintenance, and negotiation.

With both cash and customer data potentially flowing between organizations, someone will need to keep a watchful eye on utilization and conduct, as well as ensuring performance and regulatory compliance.

Key skills: Gateway Controllers will balance technical knowledge of the digital interfaces with an understanding of security and risk management. Communications skills for partner engagement will also be highly valued.

First published in CFO Innovation

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