Denmark is a leader in digital workforce transformation

Efma feature

25 March 2020

Hanne Shapiro is an innovative thinker about the future of banking and workforce transformation in Denmark. She discussed her thoughts on the two areas with Efma’s Boris Plantier.


What is the state of play for open banking in Denmark?

Open banking is still an emerging issue in the country. My view is that the problem is the common digital service providers though not the biggest players. Spar Nord is a very interesting exception. They are going fully down the cloud pathway and are very experimental and open in their approach.

I do not see anything like DBS bank in Singapore, I did a recent case study of them and engaged with Singapore in research finance being one of the priorities along digital transformation.

What are the mains issues in terms of digital transformation?

Denmark is highly digitalized, but digital transformation as an organizational and cultural transformation is still in the making. From my research it is the way that robot process automation is approached without sufficiently considering the human - technology interface and customer value creation.  It is the automation-augmentation potentials, which is the critical strategic  question. if a bank wants to compete on trust and deep customer relations. Ultimately it is about service innovation and experienced service quality across channels.

SEB bank that I also closely studied differed in that respect. It was the same with Spar Nord. The smaller players do not understand that relational and digital are not necessarily opposites - in particular as both enterprise customers and individuals visit banks less and less frequently.

Is there a change in the way banks are organized?

The financial scandal we had with Danske Bank and Nordea has created an immense focus on compliance, but another study I did certainly also demonstrates that skills shortages in compliance is likely to be [HS1]  short-term measure, and automation will eventually take its toll on the compliance workforce.

We hear a lot about workforce transformation. What will the workforce of Danish banks look like in the near future? What profile are they going to look for?

The Danish Trade Union for finance is way ahead in its thinking about digital transformation and what it entails for the workforce. Our collaboration has helped create a shared language about these skills and capabilities other than just being able to use digitals tools or code. From the study a standard digital skills framework was elaborated. Right now, we talk about how we could outline conversion programs, much like Singapore does with their skills futures maps for mid-career professionals to transfer into new roles, such as OBCB and DBS but also Bank of America.

Together with the Danish finance training center (owned by the banks) I am trying to push top line growth by specializing much more in the SME services area given the industry characteristics. Support with digital transformation and upgrading could entail deeper and more complex business – when companies move beyond digital efficiency gains and begin to focus on business models. SMEs are one of my long-term passions. I have worked on the topic and with them for years.

What does it mean for HR?

Within the collective agreements we have specifications on collective funds and the priorities have been upgraded according to the study findings. Obviously agility is a big issue, but I also see more hybrid profiles which entail digital competences such as being able to map processes from a customer journey perspective and as a basis for automation, which DBS has done. These competencies also include understanding how to interface with tools for augmentation, working with bots, and using virtual reality applications with a view to creating customer value and being able to work in interdisciplinary teams.

Specialists in cyber security and in cognitive technology applications are obviously a big issue, super-well paid, and not just recruited from Denmark. The Danish training finance center plays a big role in training, but generally I see that more and more banks (and other sectors) move towards a 70%- 20 %- 10 percent model, where the 10 percent constitutes formal continuing education and training. I just did a study on the latter for the Danish Ministry of HE and am involved in work on micro credentials for the European Commission.

What about the HR role in finance?

Automation and agile working practices have an impact on the HR role. In those companies that have adopted agile we typically see the annual or bi-annual performance review being replaced by a more fluid feedback culture focusing not only on the individual, but on the team. In these contexts, HR often functions as a partner for the business managers. Secondly, big parts of recruitment and on-boarding processes are being automated.

With regard to the HR role there are major transformations on the way as processes within HR are automated. I believe we will increasingly see that predictive analytics, and machine learning are deployed in the form of HR analytics with the use of both internal and social media data to shape personalized approaches to employee performance management. This trend could be accelerated by an increase in ad-hoc engagement of a contingent workforce – also in critical job roles. The organizational culture and values underpinning data use and data governance could ultimately result in both low trust and high trust agile working cultures.

To know more, you can download The financial labour market of the future: Insights from Danish companies and Development trends in the financial sector, two reports by Hanne Shapiro Futures.

Keywords : API/Open banking , Workforce management , Transformation

Geography : Denmark