Robo-advice still has a role, albeit limited

Jeanette Marais

Jeanette Marais

I do not believe anyone will deny that we are in the midst of digital disruption – or that businesses embracing technology will benefit, while those who do not will lag behind.

Technology undoubtedly has the potential to make business more efficient, introduce new business models and broadly stimulate the economy.  

It’s the primary driver of all the advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and the internet of things.

Without technology we would not be ordering Ubers from our phones, accessing account information by voice, or getting updates on latest offers on our computer screens. But culture is the biggest hurdle to all of this change that technology innovation has brought.

Despite these benefits being widely acknowledged, there is still an underlying fear that the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – such as AI – will make jobs disappear.

That fear is mostly unfounded, as many businesses who have already invested in this technology have seen that it automates repetitive tasks and helps employees to become more efficient, work more intelligently and free up their time to be more creative and focused.

Technology such as AI will also bring new jobs to the world – so rather than taking jobs, it will essentially lead to  job displacement, indicating that employees will need to be upskilled and retrained to fit into this new reality.

The human touch also extends to the way employees view technology and adopt to the benefits it brings.

Without the right mindset and culture, technology will only provide weak results at possibly high costs.

The transformation of business remains critical, including people’s perception of technology as well as their understanding and skills needed to optimally use it.

Focus on the attitudes and behaviours of your employees and then enhance existing business processes.

If you can not get a paradigm shift in culture and process, do not waste time looking at digital technologies.

In the future, successful companies that will thrive in the digital era will be the ones who are able to harness, grow and unleash the very human elements of creativity, imagination, and empathy within themselves and their employees.

These are not attributes that machines have.

This shows that even as businesses and their people adapt to this digital transformation in their workplaces, there is one truth that remains universal – humans will always have a role to play.

There will always be human interaction and input to guide technology, no matter how advanced it is.

People prefer people

Relationships lie at the heart of business, because investment decisions are inherently emotional, not rational.

Many factors go into making decisions, especially if they are difficult decisions such as where to invest your money.

People want to deal with another person to help them with emotional decisions.

A perfect example of this is the lacklustre reaction to robo-advice around the world.