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The nature and future of work came under the spotlight on Day 2 of the 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”
In addition to “Putting Jobs Out of Work”, discussions included “Securing a Common Future in Cyberspace“ and “Responding to Extreme Environmental Risks”.
AI—The Leadership Imperative
Accenture events also continued on Day 2 of the conference. Accenture’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Paul Daugherty joined moderator Jessi Hempel, Senior Writer at WIRED; Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer at the Bank of America; and Fei-Fei Li, Associate Professor at Stanford University, for a discussion on “AI—The Leadership Imperative.”
Daugherty began by defining AI as “applied intelligence,” rather than “artificial intelligence.” As to whether AI will destroy jobs, he said that “humans + machines = superpowers.” This is the formula to use, he added, to reimagine business and to enable workers to do their jobs better. Insurers are no strangers to doing these things—consider the common use of drones in aiding post-catastrophe claims processing.
As insurance leaders are well aware, there is no question that AI will change the nature of jobs, and Bessant said that the challenge lies in how we control AI “for the good of the workforce.” Daugherty added that the changes we will see will be both “fast and slow,” as some jobs will be replaced quickly, while changes will take more time in other industries. On that note, Fei-Fei pointed to the importance of life-long learning.
The panel also briefly discussed the issue of diversity and inclusion in AI as an economic computation, a factor in driving innovation and creativity, and as a matter of justice and fairness. Fei-Fei argued that a lack of diversity in the technology sector is in itself a form of bias. Daugherty added that because AI will affect every aspect of life, “inclusion is essential” for designing the right products.
Getting to Equal: The Power of LGBT Inclusive Cities
Next, Sander van’t Noordende, Accenture’s Group Chief Executive—Products, led a panel discussion entitled, “Getting to Equal: The Power of LGBT Inclusive Cities.” Van’t Noordende was joined by Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyds of London; Kim Hammonds, COO of Deutsche Bank; Stefanie Linnartz, Global Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer and EVP of Marriott International; Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Jon Miller, founder of Open for Business.
Miller presented research that shows that open, inclusive environments improve economic performance in cities, and the panel seconded Hammonds’ notion that allowing “employees to be themselves at work” increases morale and productivity. Al Hussein added that the reverse is also true: when companies do not come to the aid of employees in countries where LGBT behaviors are criminalized, productivity declines.
The panel agreed that companies need to speak up in these cases and “lead by example,” as Stefanie Linnartz put it. Beale proposed that companies speak up on behalf of the LGBT community, but do so in a non-confrontational manner that avoids being overly political.
CEO Outlook 2018: Innovation, Talent and Trust
The third Accenture event of Day 2, led by Will Lewis, CEO of Dow Jones, included Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet; Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay; and Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente; who discussed the “CEO Outlook 2018: Innovation, Talent and Trust.”
Sweet began by advocating the use of “technology for growth” and a move away from conversations solely about efficiencies. To ensure inclusive growth and the wider benefit of society, we need “innovation with purpose,” Sweet said. Wenig mostly echoed Sweet’s optimism, but added that regulatory risks warrant a measure of caution.
On the topic of uncertainty, Sweet argued that we need to get more comfortable with the notion that “we don’t know” what the changes brought on by new technologies will ultimately look like. Most insurers know which parts of their value chain are best suited to AI implementation; in tandem, they must have a strategy to reskill workers. Of equal importance, she said, is the cooperation between governments and the private sector, because neither will be able to solve the issues alone.
Wenig proposed that, since there is no question that the majority of jobs will be digitally enabled, education should be a national priority, with computer science being mandatory. Sweet finally made the point that leadership needs to shift, taking the time to “teach the leaders behind us.”
For more information, read the Reworking the Revolution report.
We also invite you to join the Accenture broadcasts at WEF 2018.