Posts Tagged ‘banking’

Education Technology To Trump Artificial Intelligence Buzz

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

I have had three separate occurrences this past month for family members needing quick advice for a range of more serious and less serious healthcare conditions. Here in the UK, the National Health Service’s Accident and Emergency Departments have become the repository for all conditions and advice outside of normal UK working hours, irrespective of the urgency or severity of the condition. According to one enthusiastic A&E nurse in a London hospital,  at a minimum 50% of patients don’t have a condition that warrants being there! We have a healthcare customer base that is

  • Increasingly uneducated about the resolution of minor and major health illnesses and injuries
  • Struggling with the increased automation in the healthcare system
  • Rapidly growing and drawn from very diverse backgrounds and cultures
  • Expecting greater access to world-class advice and near real-time resolution of all healthcare problems
  • Expecting free or near-free cost of advice and treatment
  • Reconciled by politicians that fear to speak out about the paucity of mass healthcare education
  • Comforted by a media that is only too keen to promulgate a sense of victim hood for a good headline

The response has been to rejig the supply of healthcare resources, the productivity of those resources and the automated processes. To channel all requests for help, outside of normal UK working hours, to emergency healthcare professionals, to ask them to enforce the prioritisation of all out-of-hours healthcare treatments, to perform to their best and to be on the front line taking the flak from patients and dependants frustrated at average wait times. Who would want to work in A&E?

Surely in this mobile-connected age there is a higher touch higher tech solution to the education, prioritisation, delivery of advice and resolution of illnesses and injuries? We are moving away from the archaic idea that every child gets the same textbook in school and in future embracing “adaptive learning”, where every child has materials updated in real time, customised to what they know and how they learn best. Using software to handle the basics and freeing children and teachers to spend the rest of the day interacting on group projects and personalised instruction. A back to the future revolution, not a dependence on online learning.

We have spent billions building “algorithms” that allow machines to ape human behaviour (artificial intelligence) but a tiny percentage of that on aiding humans to become smarter than the automation suppressing our talents and enthusiasm in the workplace. The NHS is but one example where we need to leverage technology to enhance, not replace us. To invest in human intelligence (customers, managers, employees and payors).

The same applies in almost every business. We suck the energy and life out of our employees and clients, asking them to perform basic activities without regard to the outcomes (onboarding clients, resolving complaints, adhering to redundant policies and procedures etc.). The automation is swamping their abilities to apply common sense, to provide outstanding customer service (speed and quality of response), to create loyal and “permanent” customers and in return obtain fulfilment from their work. How else explain the rising boredom levels in almost every professional workplace?

Yet executives in banks, insurance companies, professional service firms and others respond by deploying huge amounts of capital to harness big data and analytics, to make smarter artificial underwriting, investment and advisory decisions (models, augmented reality, robots and so on).  A tiny slither of that amount on enhancing their own managers, employees and customers intelligence, and when they do, it is on prosaic “one size fits all” training programmes, where they have close to zero understanding of the return on investment. Consequently, huge swathes of the workforce, management and customers are ill prepared for the disruption.

If you are not convinced that education technology from the children’s nursery through the workplace and into senior living represents a huge growth business and investment opportunity, you are sleepwalking through life.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.





Bank Imbalance

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

This morning the Board Chair of Barclays, the global bank, fired his CEO with analysts suggesting the speed of top line revenue growth, cost reduction and value creation has been underwhelming while acknowledging the progress the Bank has made in re-shaping its’ culture and shared values. The inference being that the bank has spent excessive time and resources on internal versus external issues. The point here is you have to do the following in  parallel, not sequential phases:

  1. Frame and commit resources to your strategic vision of the future
  2. Define and move swiftly through the strategy, tactics and execution towards your desired future state
  3. Define and make cultural changes to the firm’s operating beliefs, employee’s attitudes and their behaviour consistent with your new strategy and your desired future
  4. Allow for mid-course corrections to #2 and #3, where market assumptions and so forth change and need moderate or significant adaption
  5. Seek to exploit the results and value when you arrive at your desired future state (leverage and innovation).

Here is some key questions to ask in your own organisation and your clients:

  1. What proportion of management time, employees time and capital is being directed to internal issues versus external issues? Is that appropriate for the organisation at this stage of its’ growth strategy? If not, what needs to change?
  2. Does the firm’s leadership posses the skills and volition to make appropriate decisions rapidly and exemplify the desired beliefs consistent with the growth strategy? If not the leadership needs expert help to adapt or ultimately change those at the top.
  3. Is the business measuring what matters? Does it possess performance-based job descriptions and metrics for each individual throughout the organisation consistent with the growth strategy? If not, it needs immediate correction.
  4. Are they holding each other to account for accomplishment of key performance-based priorities? If not, starting with top management it needs to create or reinforce accountabilities down the line (carrots and sticks, monetary and non-monetary versions)
  5. Are they hiring, recognising and rewarding people for both the right behaviours and results consistent with the new growth strategy?  If not, it needs immediate adaption of the hiring, performance and rewards systems undertaken by line management not HR.

The banking sector is a poster child for excessive internal focus on compliance and costs. I sat at dinner last night with the regional head of a Top 10 global bank, who is accountable for protecting the bank from financial crimes and compliance breaches. He recounted his daily routine of corralling 12 CEOs of regional operating units, questioning their practices and where necessary forcing them to abandon clients, employees and products. What is obvious from the conversation is that in an effort to protect the bank’s bottom line there is a daily struggle to define “prudent risk taking”, to balance that with profitable growth and to use everyone’s time valuably. Isn’t that a skills set you would expect every banker to have learned at the start of their career?

The reality as Anthony Jenkins dismissal today shows is that those skills are in shorter supply than most imagined.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.