Financial services company Accenture claims that it has automated17,000 back office jobs without laying off a single employee.
In an interview with Business Insider CEO Richard Lumb said that by retraining staff, they were able to remain in the group without the need for layoffs. At the same time, automation helped the company to streamline processes and improve overall productivity.
Additionally, because automation replaced boring and repetitive tasks, allowing workers to progress to more complex tasks, it may end up increasing worker satisfaction overall.
“Over the last 18 months, automation replaced 17,000 jobs in back office processing. But actually, we haven’t laid those people off. We are fortunate enough to reskill and reposition them,” Lumb said.
In the company’s report, Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce, Accenture noted that automation will inevitably disrupt the workforce. However, if companies begin to retrain employees now, they can help employees to weather automation without displacement.
For example, the Accenture report shows that in the UK, jobs that are at risk of being lost to automation could be reduced to less than 6% if companies work to reallocate employees and retrain them in future-appropriate skill sets. In Germany, job loss could be reduced to 10% and the US to 4%.
The report also points to research into artificial intelligence, showing that AI alone has the potential to double economic growth rates and increase productivity among workers by up to 40% by 2035.
While currently banks are focused on regulation and cybersecurity, future planning includes new technology, including automation, blockchain, AI, and big data. Lumb also said that through automation, Accenture helped a major bank save over $100 million in a single year. Automating tasks in the back office, including compliance, led to a major cost savings for its client, and is part of an overall trend toward automation in finance.
Accenture has been selected by the U.S. federal government to modernize the FBI’s human resources functions. The $100 million USD contract covers updating software, improving data analysis, and creating an employee web portal for the FBI. There is no word, as yet, to whether the government will take advantage of Accenture’s capabilities and focus on automation.