AI won't replace you, Cognizant's Michael Cook tells CFOs

Six big trends will shape the future of work; all include technology, especially Artificial Intelligence.

Michael Cook, the guru of what the future of the workplace will look like, doesn’t believe that rapid technology changes will result in mass job losses for CFOs or drastically redefine their professional roles.  

Instead, Michael, who is a senior manager at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, is optimistic about technology changes in the finance profession. He believes technology will create new jobs, drive productivity and efficiencies in the workplace. 

Cognizant is a US-headquartered multinational corporation that provides IT services, including digital, technology, consulting, and operations services.

Speaking at the Finance Indaba on Wednesday, Michael said there are six big trends to watch about how technology will change the workplace and role of finance professionals. 

The trends are:

  • Over the past 10 years, companies have been focusing on data and coding to create value and grow their revenue. Their big focus was on what Michael called SMAC – an acronym for Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. He still expects companies to spend more than $1.6 trillion over the next year on SMAC technology solutions. 
  • In the next few years, companies will move from SMAC to ABEQ – an acronym for Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Enhanced Reality (not to be confused with virtual reality as enhanced reality panders to human senses such as touch and hearing) and Quantum Computing. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have a big impact. Michael expects AI to be the biggest technological development “ever to be seen and the greatest story of our time”. In the medical field, it will help medical specialists diagnose patients faster and detect potentially fatal health conditions. In banking, customers wanting loans will have their credit scores vetted faster. In the finance profession, AI will help finance professionals to compile financial statements, manage data, and detect potential fraud or misstatement of financial statements. 
  • As technology evolves, there will be job losses but the rate of losses around the world is expected to be about 12 percent over the next five to 10 years. At the same time, 75 percent of jobs will be enhanced such as data and spreadsheet entry professionals because man and machine will coexist. 
  • As jobs disappear, new jobs will be created. “The future of jobs will not all be technical, but there will still be human jobs,” said Michael. The category of jobs that might be created are what he refers to as the three Cs; coaching (jobs underpinned by heavy technology and algorithms), caring (many of the technologies will improve the way we live) and connecting (matching people on the job with machines). 
  • Specific jobs that might be created include data brokers that will help organisations manage their data; algorithm bias auditors that will make sure that company funds are allocated correctly; and man-machine managers that will analyse which jobs are valuable and not in organisations.