Credit Suisse tech head on automation

Having your job displaced by a robot might not mean you’re completely out of work.

Laura Barrowman, the chief technology officer at Credit Suisse, said workers who have lost their jobs due to automation still hold valuable knowledge about the business that can be leveraged in other areas, such as cybersecurity.

“While jobs are being displaced through automation and AI, there are opportunities in areas where there are skills deficits, such as cyber, and we should train people who have been displaced to be able to fill those roles, Barrowman told Business Insider on Tuesday during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Cyber is not just about the technical skills … it is about the knowledge of the organization. You cannot protect something if you don’t know how it works.”

Cybersecurity is both a technology and a business problem, she said. So there’s a need for those with expertise working on the tech and business side to work together.

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A Capgemini report found that financial services could see a $512 billion boost in revenue by 2020 through the use of intelligence automation. That includes using everything from robotic automation processing (RPA), artificial intelligence, and business process optimization to help with high-volume, repeatable, and rule-based tasks.

Barrowman’s call for employees to re-shift focus towards cybersecurity comes at a time when the space is in serious need of it.

“Globally, if you look at cyber skills, I think there is a deficit,” Barrowman said. “There is such a shortage of skills, and you need people who have that capability.”

Credit Suisse currently runs educational programs to retrain employees so they can use their skills within the cyber space. Barrowman said employees can also provide value by helping with the maintenance of the very technology that displaced their jobs: artificial intelligence.

A focus area of the bank is around ensuring the high quality of data fed into AI tools, something humans can help with. For an AI-based tool to be efficient, the data it analyzes needs to be complete and accurate. While that might seem like a basic request, Barrowman said it’s a critical one and not easily achievable in a company the size of Credit Suisse.

“Making sure that your basics are right is a fundamental for everything,” Barrowman said.

If a company is able to create consistencies across the data sets that sit within its organization, the opportunities for what AI can do at Wall Street firms are huge, Barrowman said. Being able to analyze data from multiple different sources will provide banks revenue opportunities they might not have realized previously.

“Using AI to give clients information around what they could use as a product is so much better than assuming an RM [relationship manager] has been able to read all of the documentation coming through,” Barrowman said. “I don’t even think we have started to scratch the surface of the capability for what this could do.”

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