The People Side of Disruptive Technologies

These days, most executives are talking about, or at least thinking about, disruptive technologies and how they can deploy them to make their business more competitive. But many of these executives are missing an essential piece of the puzzle: the employees whose jobs may be drastically changed—for better or worse—by artificial intelligence (AI), automation, blockchain and advanced analytics.

That’s not the case with the executives at EY’s Global Innovation team. At a recent panel discussion in New York City, five EY executives spent a lot of time talking about the ways these advanced technologies will change jobs. Here are some key points they made:

Chris Mazzei, global innovation technologies leader and global chief analytics officer: EY is certifying employees in technology areas and giving them digital badges to show their learning and experience in those areas. “We are focusing on talent and professional development. We are recognizing people’s contributions, and that is an amazing draw to hire talent.”

Hans Jessen, global innovation leader, RPA (robotic process automation): Many people fear that robots will replace them at work, but “robots need supervisors. We need to get employees used to working with robots. You can’t automate jobs completely.” Only about 5 to 10 percent of most jobs can be automated.”

Nigel Duffy, global innovation leader, AI: Machine learning and AI can eliminate of lot of manual, laborious work. “AI will create a lot of value. It can review transactions as they are happening and can prevent problems.” For example, AI can review millions of contracts quickly and accurately and point out any issues.

Paul Brody, global innovation leader, Blockchain: Blockchain will facilitate auditing by validating transactions, so each transaction doesn’t have to be checked manually. Companies adopting blockchains need to determine which employees will have access to which parts of their blockchain.

Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer: “Change is hard in every organization, but companies need a culture of chaos. They need to question the way they’ve done things and ask how they can do them better.

“They need fire starters of change and commitment from their leadership teams. They need a culture of chaos—the right amount of chaos, chaos that works.

“Leading companies realize that they have to act now—even before they know how disruptive technology will affect them.”


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