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article imageDownside of DX? Manulife cuts jobs to make space for technology

By Tim Sandle     Jul 2, 2018 in Business
Toronto - The process of digital transformation will lead to the creation of new jobs, but other jobs will inevitably fall by the wayside. As an example of the latter, Manulife Financial Corp., based in Canada, is cutting 700 jobs.
The decision taken by Manulife Financial Corporation part of the company's strategy to streamline and digitize customer service operations, and it is with customer service positions that most of the job losses relate to. Manulife Canada CEO Michael Doughty's is quoted by CTV News, in relation to the main drivers for the job losses: "Our industry, including us, are still doing too many things the old way: processing paperwork, accepting mail, answering telephone calls on information requests that clients should be able to access on their own."
Manulife Financial Corporation is a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The company is the largest insurance company in Canada and the 28th largest fund manager in the world.
To balance the job cuts, Manulife aims to recruit and train digital talent to adapt to new technologies (although the ratio of job loss to job gain is not quoted). Central to this is an aim to expand the use of artificial intelligence and the use of chatbots to assist with customer queries. According to City News, this is a sign of the insurance sector following in the footsteps of banking where there have been several new technologies introduced in order to boots customer service efficiencies.
Chatbots can enable new efficiencies by assisting thousands of queries simultaneously. Moreover, as new technologies make bots more intelligent, consumers appear to be increasingly comfortable in terms of interacting with them. Here a survey reported on by Risks & Insurance of of 6,000 consumers, found that more than 80 percent of users were satisfied with a chatbot experience.
In terms of the wider impact upon employment, a large number of organizations are now looking at future and are trimming personnel by improving automation gradually. For example, in the U.K. Royal Bank of Scotland chief financial officer Ewen Stevenson mentioned that further job cuts in banking will be seen as banks begin to accelerate investment in technology.
Speaking of this own bank, Stevenson told The Independent: "The bank is moving into a different phase. The transformation “creates a better bank in 2020, a better bank equipped for digitisation."
The full impact of digital transformation on employment is hotly debated. On one hand, the World Economic Forum research (quoted by Digital Trends) indicates that "current trends could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labor market changes over the period 2015–2020.”
On the other hand James Besson, an economist at the Boston University School of Law noted that within the finance sector what is taking place are old jobs going and new jobs, requiring different skill sets, coming in.
More about Manulife, digital transformation, New technology, Employment
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