Published June 13, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Fil C. Sionil
Fil C. Sionil


Sometime in November 2017, I had a conversation with JP Morgan Philippines Chairman Roberto “Bobbit” Panlilio where we discussed about the increasing move of corporates, banks and financial institutions to upscaling their operations through more improved automation and integration of the element of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI, back then, was just gaining traction. Although, it is not an altogether new frontier, it’s a “reality” that business and the workforce have to take on. Otherwise operations may lag behind the competition.

Fast-forward to now. Automation plus AI is making inroads. The integration of AI in daily business operations enhances productivity, making the procedural process “smarter.” AI may be likened to a CCTV that monitors and reviews previous similar patterns in the daily business grind, makes an analysis, then gives out alert signals should the need arise.

Thus, it is imperative to discuss this shift to come up with a wholistic approach, considering certain apprehension of the working class that this shift to automation could affect job opportunities.

It could be likened to “The sword of Democles,” an allusion to a danger that human employment may be on the edge, as AI reacts like the human workforce including speech recognition, planning, and problem solving. The worry is not without basis since the region is the bedrock to the world’s leading industrial robot usage at 65 percent.

This is where JP Morgan and Asia Society Hong Kong Center collaboration comes into play. In a One Step Ahead Forum with the theme “Rethinking the Future of Work to Promote Inclusive Growth in Asia-Pacific Region” held Tuesday last week, to which I was invited, I gathered that embracing information technology does not necessarily mean loss of job opportunities for the ever-increasing workforce in the region.

One of the speakers, Boris Van, an associate partner at McKinsey Manila office, assuaged this fear. Automation can not altogether replace humans in the workplace, he said.

“Discussions like these will provide us with insights, foster new approaches to existing challenges, and generate broader awareness around the need for a more coordinated and concerted effort to ensure that our youth have the skills, tools and systems they need to thrive in the coming generation,” said JP Morgan Philippines Chairman Bobbit.

Navigating the emerging new business landscape could be a bit scary and tricky, at times peppered with potholes and roadblocks. “Bringing together policy makers, educators, industry leaders, and civil society in on-going dialogue – with no less than equity and inclusion as guiding principles – remains a critical component to navigating and framing developments around the changing landscape of the workplace,” JP Morgan Philippines Senior Country Officer Carlos Ma. Mendoza said.

Indeed, this open discussion was timely and relevant to the journey the Philippines and other countries in our region are traversing to attain inclusive economic growth. The caveat, though, is there’s a need to re-tool, re-orient, and upscale the working force.

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