News Article

Automation Makes Human Labour More Valuable

By Andrea Villar | Fri, 05/28/2021 - 13:27

You can watch the video of this panel here.

A year into the pandemic, businesses in Mexico are evaluating how best to move forward in their digitalization process. They have encountered challenges and opportunities along the way, but one thing is clear: human talent is key to success in this transformation, agreed panelists on the third day of the Mexico Business Forum 2021 Virtual Edition. "The pandemic has brought an acceleration in the digital transformation of companies. This is relevant in the development of new skills that we have to develop in our work teams," said Selene Diez, CEO and Founder of Forte Innovation Consulting and moderator of the panel. 

Regardless of a company's line of business or level of technology, no one is oblivious to global trends such as climate change, glocalization or urbanization, said Alejandro Preinfalk, President and CEO of Siemens. "The question is not whether or not to ride this wave, but when. We are convinced that the time is now, regardless of the company's line of business.” Preinfalk also mentioned that it is important to adapt to the technological moment we are in. “The last decade was about connecting consumers to the cloud. This decade has been about connectivity, IoT and AI”. According to Preinfalk, 60 percent of industry professionals have yet to implement IoT technology on a large scale. But by 2025, 70 percent of investments are going to go into building connectivity between technology, industry and infrastructure to generate smart data.

“Digital transformation is not only about technology but also about people. It forces us all to reinvent ourselves every day, but also to rethink leadership models. A culture of growth is key to staying relevant as a company and as a professional. It is also important for digitalization to be inclusive and not only focused on technology,” said Preinfalk. In the last six months, Siemens has invested €320 million (US$390 million) in training and education for all employees. 

In agreement, Diego Garza, Sales Director of Intel Mexico, said that there is no longer a difference between technology and non-technology companies. “In this process of digital transformation, all companies have done it to a greater or lesser extent. Competition in the market has been transformed and that forces digitization. More than non-technological companies, there are low-tech and high-tech companies,” he added. “Companies used to compete head-to-head with others in their line of business, but the reality is that today the competition is very different and they compete against platforms and startups.”

According to Garza, for less tech-savvy companies the easiest way to accelerate their digital transformation process is to start with the basics, such as “managing their devices first, eventually expanding and finally interacting with their customers with new digital processes.” For him, what made many companies successful a few years ago is no longer going to work now, so it is necessary to embrace a digital model as a company and build experiences for customers around that. 

On the banking sector, Sergio Torres Lebrija, Strategy and Innovation Head of Digital Banking at BBVA Mexico, said that a few years ago the bank bet on digitalization in almost all areas of the company, to great success. “Before, when people went to a branch they had to queue to be assisted. Today they come in and get a digital turn to be channelled to the different areas of a branch.” He added that this model has also started to evolve and through the app, customers can now get a “digital turn.” Eventually, this service will evolve to use facial recognition in branches to let the bank know who the customer is, what they are looking for and what they might need. 

According to Torres Lebrija, BBVA Mexico currently has 23.5 million customers, 55 percent of whom make their transactions digitally. Likewise, 67 percent of the bank's sales are digital. “Seven years ago, 90 percent of all transactions were in branches, today it is only seven percent, the rest is digital,” he said. “This would not have been conceivable five years ago and it has been thanks to automation, digitalization and people.”

The mobility sector has also not lagged behind when it comes to digitization. “This transformation has reached all of us. We used to compete with the trucking industry, today we are competing with platforms like Uber,” said Olivier Bouvet, Transformation Experience Officer of MOBILITY ADO. In this evolution, he added, people play a key role. “At the end of the day, implementing technologies, databases or IoT are means for companies to achieve their goals, but you need to have the people who can understand, prioritize and execute.” According to Bouvet, companies should focus on three main characteristics of human talent: self-management, adaptability and happiness in order to “move forward in this transformation”.

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst