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What do the big thinkers say about our financial future?

Ant Tyler

Although artificial intelligence will replace certain tasks within jobs in the future, this doesn’t mean that the jobs themselves will disappear. This is becoming an increasingly common point of view within tech circles, and one which was backed up by speakers at this year’s ASFA Conference in Adelaide.

Self-described ‘bearded Melbourne hipsters’, Dr Angus Hervey and Tane Hunter, co-founders of Future Crunch, gave us a tour through the rapid rise of technology, AI and their impacts on the way we live and work.

“Robots and code will replace tasks within jobs, and this will change the nature of jobs themselves,” they argued. “However, there are also many new jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago, as new technological improvements have opened up a plethora of fields of study and human endeavours.”

They gave as an example how the AI explosion has led to more co-operative working between man and machine in medical research and diagnosis, where tech has been a “godsend”. “We now have the ability to look at the brain of a six-month-old child to detect autism, spot invisible tumours in x-rays and detect skin cancer using phone-based apps”.

They also quoted some other great examples of how AI-driven tech can benefit society, including how police in the Indian city of New Delhi identified nearly 3,000 missing children within just four days of launching a trial of a new facial recognition system. They were then reunited with their families.

Angus and Tane also explored the question of empathy and the ‘spark’ of human connection; holding similar views to those uncovered in our recent roundtables held with tech and business leaders in Australia and New Zealand.

Tane said that on top of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient), AQ – the Adaptability Quotient – is going to become increasingly important. Yolanda Beattie, Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Leader at Mercer, linked the growth of AQ to resilience, effort and life-long learning that would become more and more essential over time.

Use tech to lift engagement

The intersection between technology and the next generation workforce was explored in a fascinating talk by Adam Alter, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University. He also wrote Irresistible – an investigation into our addictive online behaviours.

He talked about how technology today is designed to remove ‘stopping cues’ – the barriers that suggest we do something else – and keep us hooked. He shared some ideas from the tech world and behavioural economics that the superannuation industry could use to remove these stopping cues that prevent members from engaging with their provider.

He described six stopping cues; of which the ‘future self-empathy gap’ is especially relevant to superannuation, given the long time horizon involved. The idea behind this cue is that members are disconnected with who they’ll be in the future. As he described it:

“We treat our future selves… as a completely separate individual, like a stranger. So, when you’re asking people to invest or to withhold some benefit they have today for the future, you’re effectively saying ‘you’ll get nothing now, but some stranger in the future will get that instead.’” 

He then gave some good advice to get around this stopping cue. “You’ve got to connect the future self to the present self,” he said. There are a number of experiments that had successfully achieved this, such as using virtual reality technology to show people what they’ll look like aged, to get them to engage with their future self.

Given these experiments aren’t practical in the real world, Adam suggested that even asking people to think of who they’ll be in 30, 40 or 50 years can help them make that connection.

How do we connect with millennials?

The challenge of connecting with the Millennial generation is a thread that was woven into a number of talks across the three days of the conference. Futurist, Rocky Scopelliti, quoted the term ‘Youthquake’, the 2017 Oxford dictionary word of the year. He said this describes a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people. He said:

“Millennials vote with their money and over time they’ll have more of it. They are an economically significant demographic and will be a huge workplace influence. By 2020 they will make up 50 percent of the workforce and five years later,
75 percent.”

Significantly, he said this is reflected in the expected growth drivers over the next five years, where 63 percent of leaders believe that tech will be their organisation’s greatest competitive advantage.

How AI lifts engagement

Another tech-focussed session was how to engage members using artificial intelligence. The panel discussion included people from innovative companies who are creatively using AI to increase member engagement and meet their customers’ needs.

Georgie Drury, CEO and founder of Springday, described how her company uses its cloud-based platform to create a wellbeing ecosystem that connects companies, communities and individuals.

“Health and wellbeing are in decline and people are desperate to feel well and make a change,” she said. Springday’s diagnostic AI-driven software collects data to analyse individual wellbeing needs and predict necessary interventions.

Chris Marr, co-founder of Sonder, explained how his company operates as a global first responder to get people help at their side anywhere in the world within 20 minutes. He explained how they utilise a vast AI-driven network of crisis professionals to offer in-person assistance, day or night with tracking devices.

“Sonder is able to disrupt the traditional insurance market by reducing the cost of claims in the best interests of members.”

Finsec needs AI, or risks falling behind

What these and other key themes from the ASFA conference demonstrated is that those in the financial services industry who haven’t already considered how AI fits into their customer service journey are falling behind.

Forward-thinking organisations understand that this capability will come to play a huge part in their overall brand perception. And as digital consumers seek frictionless engagements, their ability to communicate with you could become not only a point of contention, but also retention.

Those who integrate a quick and easy digital customer experience across channels will see success, by increasing the speed, accuracy and efficiency of processes and freeing up staff to focus on more valuable customer interactions.



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