How is Artificial Intelligence changing the landscape of contractual jobs?

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various sectors of the workforce has spurred much buzz around the nature and security of jobs today. This is especially evident in Singapore where the city state is pushing forth multiple AI initiatives. This includes a recent launch of US$110 million to boost Singapore’s AI capabilities.

With a strong focus on the financial sector, the AI and Data Analytics Grant is reserved for Singapore-based financial institutions and research firms. According to Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), this grant will provide as much as 50% for reimbursement of projects that leverage on AI and data analysis techniques to generate insights, formulate strategy as well as assist in decision making,

However, there are rising concerns alongside the fast integration of AI as data reports that 30% of banking jobs would be made redundant by 2022. According to Accenture, 76% of bankers believe that "the majority of organisations in the banking industry will deploy AI interfaces as their primary point for interacting with customers" by 2020.

Disruption of AI within the area of development and testing

1. Software developers to pick up Data Science and Deep-Learning skills

Data Science and Deep-Learning would become increasingly important for software developers to master as it would change how software is written. Instead of spending months on writing the specific features, data would now be used to “train” the software to make itself even more intelligent. One example is Robotics Process Automation (RPA). OCBC for instance, is undertaking RPA through the employment of two robots – Bob and Zac to generate sales reports through data collection.

The robots work with the Consumer Secured Lending and Finance teams within OCBC’s Consumer Banking Division. Bob helps to process loan applications while Zac is attached to the Finance team and helps to generate daily sales performance reports. Bob and Zac are second-generation robots born out of experimentation that started in 2015, when robots were first deployed to OCBC’s Contact Centre.

2. Reengineering of back-office processes

While the above example illustrates AI that is targeted at front-end operations, adoption of AI can also disrupt back-end operations of banks. This includes areas such as customer on boarding, support, bank reconciliation and accounting. AI would be able to automate manual steps of computing data such as data extraction, data entry and email processing. Apart from cutting costs, AI would further reduce the cycle time of business processes whilst ensure better service quality through the elimination of human errors in repetitive laborious tasks.

In 2018, AI powered RPA would be able to automate complex business processes. In August 2017, Bank of America Merrill Lynch have announced the development of an intelligent receivables application that uses AI to improve straight-through reconciliation of incoming payments. These are successes that continue to open up more opportunities which are worth exploring.

As a result of this integration of AI, the job scope of developers and testers is likely to expand to various back-end services to ensure that efficiency and productivity are maintained as well as sustained. In addition, despite ongoing speculation with regards to smart machines and how the demand for coders may be reduced, it isn’t exactly the case. Instead, there would be a growing need for coders with a different and wider skill-set. Furthermore, developers are still needed for their expertise to curate data whilst managing software through the process of learning by itself, and Python scripts which interact with the software.

Ultimately, job security is dependent on one’s ability to upskill and stay relevant within this evolving workforce.

How does this change the landscape of contractual jobs?

As the gig economy starts to embed within our culture, AI would also be creating opportunities for contractual roles. Permanent jobs for senior banking technologists for instance, are starting to diminish. This holds true with the gradual and inevitable takeover of the millennial generation in Singapore’s workforce. With greater prioritisation over work-life balance, alongside short-term projects that can value-add to their career experience, banks would realise the need to adapt to evolving work culture.

AI’s permeation into the workforce would fundamentally change the way employees in banks work, and also the type of work they do. This includes the enhancement of workforce efficiency, flexibility, compliance and other relevant skills needed to engage customers.

Ultimately, companies would need to on board the right talent with the relevant skill-set. Either that, organisations would need to put in place training and development programmes that can help their employees in “upgrading” their skill-sets. A number of companies would choose to engage employees through contractual employment to as a form of training and development for other employees in the organisation, or as a trial period to “test” the capabilities of these new employees before converting them to full-time.

If you would like to find out more about the limited talent available in the market of developers and testers, or those with transferable skillsets and experiences that can add value to your organisation especially within contractual roles, do contact us or follow us on our LinkedIn page for more industry related insights.

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