If You're in Retail or Finance - Let's Talk About Artificial Intelligence & Automation

Kristina Finseth

 

Like a lot of people, I needed a break from all the artificial intelligence buzz for a little while. However, I’m starting to see more and more discussion about the impact A.I. and automation technology will have on retail and finance jobs, and I think we should really talk about it.

So, what positions are at risk and why?

Retail Cashiers You’ll probably notice that some of your favorite retail and grocery stores have a convenient self-checkout option. I choose this option pretty frequently since I don’t have to deal with a person, and it’s a straight-forward and easy way to check out and make my purchases.

Recently, the IRRC Institute released a research study on the impact of retail automation. According to the study, “if companies adopt a heavily convenience-oriented strategy, more tasks will be automated and less labor required.” They predict that 30-50 percent of retail jobs will be impacted by automation technologies, creating a job loss of about 6 to 7.5 million in total.

What’s worse is that retail cashiers are considered one of the jobs that’s easiest to automate in the current economy. Although the retail industry has a fairly level playing field of men and women, retail cashiers are mostly women at 73 percent.

Bank Tellers According to PwC, 61 percent of jobs in financial services are at a high risk of being replaced by robots, and bank tellers are pretty high on that list. Honestly, the ATM was just the tip of the iceberg, and many people choose to handle their banking needs via mobile and online platforms instead of physically going into a bank branch anyway.

Although there’s always going to be customers who insist on going into a bank branch to make a deposit, withdraw money, or open a new account – much of this will be replaced by artificial intelligence and technology.

It’s what Andy Mattes, CEO of Diebold (financial software company) says in this recent article, “The ATM of tomorrow is going to replace the teller. It can do approximately 90 percent of what the human being can do, and it’s going to be your branch in a box.”

Retail Stock Retrievers When you think about a warehouse environment, you probably envision forklift drivers, pallet jacks, and the people who manually operate these machines to retrieve products based on the retail demand.

However, look at what companies like Amazon have done to automate this stock retrieval process in the past. Although the robots used are not capable of those tasks requiring finer manipulation or improvising, think of the robotic shelves and other automated pieces of the stock process that have already been enhanced by this process.

Before you know it, retailers will be able to utilize a central computer to retrieve stock items without having to staff a stock room 24 hours a day with human bodies. Those stock items can be retrieved, sorted, and processed for retail employees and customers based on request.

Financial Compliance Currently, there’s a lot of analysis and manipulation of data insights in the financial arena that’s conducted mostly by people – especially when it comes to ensuring compliance. From anti-money laundering to financial regulation to customer identity checking – a vast majority of financial staff are dedicated to the compliance and regulation of financial services.

In the coming years, more and more of these financial jobs will be replaced through artificial intelligence and automation, providing financial managers and leadership teams the in-depth analytics necessary for regulation and compliance on a daily basis.

As with any level of change to the current landscape, it’s really all about adaptation. While many retail and financial positions (among other industries and specialities) are at risk of being replaced partially, if not fully, by artificial intelligence and automation technology – new jobs will be created as a result.

Don’t get me wrong – there will be downsizing for sure. However, those companies who decide to equip top performers with the skills necessary to help ensure technology is performing appropriately will become top employers. They will be able to pave a new path for individuals in the midst of a job landscape change.

---

What do you think? Will A.I. and automation technology replace a lot of retail and finance jobs in the future?