What CFOs Need To Know As The Workforce Adjusts To The Digital Age: Part 1

Christopher Mazzei and Michael Bertolino

Part 1 in the “CFOs and the Digital Workplace” series

As the world adjusts to the digital age, workers will increasingly be freed up from repetitive tasks and can explore the attributes that make us human. These human attributes, including lateral thinking, creativity, decision-making, innovation, intuition, and empathy, will become more important as the balance of machines and humans in the workplace shift. As this shift occurs, whereby machines take on more, we should also see the creation of new roles, tasks, and responsibilities that are yet to be defined.

The change in the way we work has accelerated dramatically for two main reasons:

  • The well-publicized explosion of available data
  • The exponential improvement in the price per unit of performance of technology

For the first time ever, today’s workforce includes four generations working together: traditionalists, boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. As technology invades our lives, both at work and at home, employees are focused more on work-life integration over balance.

How and why is technology changing the way we work?

Technology, coupled with demographics and globalization, is also changing the definition and composition of our workforce. We are already seeing the workforce shift from a preponderance of full-time employees to include higher percentages of part-time, contract, freelance, and offshore workers — all of whom are working alongside each other and robots.

One way EY is adopting and further supporting this blended workforce is through an innovative approach to developing a network of top contractor talent. With an advanced technology platform and experienced recruiters, EY is able to tap into the best talent around the world, build a more agile and flexible workforce model, and scale the global talent base faster and more effectively than ever.

Which technologies are driving this change?

Robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) are already making a huge impact in the workplace. Many jobs and business processes have previously been constrained by the capacity and speed of human decision-making and coordination — what we refer to as the human processing unit (HPU). Automation is dramatically increasing the return on the HPU by leveraging machines to consume data and execute certain elements of a process at a scale that was hard to imagine just a few years ago.

Examples of these technologies at work include powerful applications that are used to optimize the machine-human balance that generates the best business outcomes. EY’s Organization and Talent Hub (OTH) provides analytics and organizational design and optimization when a company undergoes a major transformation, such as a large merger and acquisition or divestiture transaction. EY Lease Reviewer improves speed and accuracy by using AI and advanced language models to review time-consuming lease contracts and automatically labels passages in contracts against proper accounting treatment.

We believe that change must begin with a business problem or opportunity. It is then that technologies can be combined to create transformational solutions that improve the way work gets done.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how finance teams can develop a better grasp of the sweeping changes taking place in the workforce, and what their organizations will need to do to adjust.

This is an excerpt from “Making the future of work, work,” originally published as part of the “Innovation Matters: insights on the latest disruptive technologies” series.

The views reflected in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.

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Christopher Mazzei

About Christopher Mazzei

Chris Mazzei is global innovation technologies leader and global chief analytics officer at EY. Chris is responsible for exploring a portfolio of emerging technologies, including blockchain, AI, and robotic process automation. His focus is on determining how these technologies create opportunities for EY to incorporate into its own business operations, as well as considering the implications for EY’s clients. Chris leads the EY Global Analytics Center of Excellence, which aims to incorporate data and analytics into EY’s offerings across all business lines to help clients grow, optimize, and protect value.

Michael Bertolino

About Michael Bertolino

Michael Bertolino, the global leader for EY People Advisory Services, leads a global force of some 10,400 practitioners who work with clients every day to help them harness their people agenda — getting the right people, with the right capabilities, in the right place, for the right cost, doing the right things. EY People Advisory Services works with clients on a range of assignments from helping them to transform their HR function to addressing their organizations’ most complex talent challenges in a global and highly regulated setting. In all cases, the teams connect the people strategy to the needs of the business, helping clients realize sustainable results from strategy to execution. It’s how we build a better working world.