We are standing on the edge of a technological revolution. The mix of human workforce and robotics is slowly but surely becoming part of business operations.
Even as one starts adjusting, learning, navigating the intricacies of some new apps, another one pops up. New products and programs with more enhanced features are being introduced. Efforts to digitize, embracing technologies is the name of the game in business operations, be it corporates and banks, big or small, including upstarting entrepreneurs.
At the Incheon International airport departure terminal in Korea, Air Star, an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered robot, roams around the gateway assisting passengers offering information on flight schedules flashed on her (I presume the gender is female because of the second name Star) belly screen. It’s a touch screen and user-friendly. Air Star even offers to take selfies. I was scrutinizing her when she suddenly talked to me. I was startled. Air Star asked: “Do you want a selfie?”
On the domestic scene, Union Bank of the Philippines will launch today “Eve,” a similar AI robot. Edwin R. Bautista, president of UnionBank, showed me a series of her photos. Initially, five Eves will be unveiled in “a few ARK.”
“The ARK” is UnionBank’s innovative digital banking platform. Bank clients will have an altogether new banking experience. The ARK is not just a bank, it’s a “third space.” It’s designed “to become a destination before and after work, providing room for off-site productivity and encourage creative tech ideas not just from its partners, but also from its customers,” Mr. Edwin said.
UnionBank is embarking “on a voyage into the future,” into a world of touch screen, augmented reality, and digital interaction…with no long queues but instead, delightful encounters with the bank’s new features.”
Digitalization is the trend moving forward. A McKinsey & Company research indicated that technology and digital-driven strategies are now more effective than traditional approaches in change management programs because, more than improving speed and cost-efficiency, digital also builds capacities.
The transformation is a game changer that will unlock the potential of a company’s further growth. Oliver Tonby, McKinsey’s senior partner based in Singapore, imparted to the audience in a forum I attended last week that digitalization is rapidly growing. Asia “is not going to rise but is going to lead,” he said with the Philippines maintaining its top position in the list of social media users despite the denunciation of having the slowest Internet service. The entry of a third player in the telecom industry is expected to improve the service.
The wheels of the digital and technology industry are moving fast. No one wants to be a laggard. Adjustment, though, takes time.
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