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By 25 November 2019 | Categories: Thought Leadership

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TechSmart Business News sponsored by the Huawei Global Developer Programme

By Jörg Fischer, Executive Head - Group Shared Services at Standard Bank Group

The fourth industrial revolution is changing the workplace with unprecedented speed. To remain relevant, companies and their employees must act now to prepare themselves for a vastly changed – but far more empowering – future of work.

Thanks to advances in automated intelligence, cloud computing and other digital capabilities, employees are expected to become increasingly productive as mundane, repetitive tasks are automated.

As was the case with the first three industrial revolutions, some tasks will become obsolete as new ones emerge, and there is a risk that skills gaps will widen given that some employees will be better prepared than others. To avoid falling behind, it is more important than ever that countries and corporates radically improve and realign their education and on-the-job training frameworks.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Future of Jobs report, the financial services sector is poised for major jobs growth in the computing and mathematical fields. Demand for data analysts, information security analysts and database and network professionals will soar across the sector. In fact, overall, “the largest amount of skills disruption is expected to occur in the financial services and investors industry”, the report says.

But workforce disruption does not imply widespread job losses. South Africa’s financial services industry is expected to grow its workforce by 1.25% in the five years to 2020, according to the WEF. At the same time, job security in the sector is expected to increase – implying that in most cases, employees will be reskilled rather than replaced.

Standard Bank is proactively upskilling its employees to help them secure future-fit competencies – and to ensure its own long-term sustainability.

The bank has designed a range of training programmes aimed at building a workforce with three core competencies: digital skills, such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity; analytical capabilities, including data analytics; and customer journey mapping.

These competencies, underpinned by ‘soft skills’ such as emotional intelligence, behavioural science and problem-solving, align with the shifting landscape of the financial services sector. Ultimately, the group aims to use technology to make itself more humane, not less.

By combining the data-crunching abilities of Artificial Intelligence and automation with uniquely human skills and qualities, such as contextual insight, thoughtfulness and empathy, banks can provide personalised solutions based on individual client needs and circumstances.

For example, Card Fraud One and Done solution implemented in May 2019, empowers front line personnel to take the call, block the card, identify the fraudulent transactions, automatically perform a customer refund based on pre-defined rules and open up a fraud case for operations to perform the necessary investigation. The outcome is reducing bottlenecks, repetition in tasks and improved overall turnaround times, with a positive customer experience reducing the refund wait time from around two weeks to 30 minutes.

While banking, insurance and asset management will remain people-centred services well into the future, accelerating our efforts to become a truly digital financial services group is a precondition for achieving client-centricity and the integration of the Standard Bank Group.

Strong uptake of training programmes

Standard Bank’s training programmes within operations have been well received by employees. To date, 2 000 employees have enrolled for the bank’s BI (Business Intelligence) Analyst Programme, which is aimed at driving data literacy, and, ultimately, better decision-making.

More than 700 staff have registered for the Process Excellence Lean Programme, which was designed to build best practices for the design, management and improvement of all business processes.

Other courses include the Power User Programme – aimed at training and empowering staff to develop small automation use-cases, the Code Crowd Programme that reskills staff on becoming automation specialists within IT and the Entrepreneurial Programme.

These initiatives are already bearing fruit – in many cases, staff that complete them and become certified are promoted into new roles. Encouragingly, many of the employees moving into new roles or rising through the ranks had no tertiary qualifications.

Standard Bank is leveraging several partnerships which assists the group in its digitisation journey. A Global Elite Programme offers a host of tutorials aimed at helping employees build skills for the future including data, cloud and cognitive computing solutions.

Standard Bank is intent on creating a culture of curiosity and personal growth, considering that learning itself is becoming something of a new job requirement in the industry.

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