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Sep 01 2018
People vs A.I. - Why You Should Embrace Life Long Learning
April Tanner, CCE, Kimball Equipment

Recently, I was catching up on some reading I had set aside and found an article about machines and computers artificial intelligence (A.I.) replacing people in the July 2017 Entrepreneur Magazine. The article was not trying to use scare tactics like a horror movie but was putting workers and executives on notice. The message was "People need to adapt faster than ever."

My first thought on reading the first paragraph of the article was this people vs. A.I. thing has been going on a long time. One of my favorite old movies stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy; Desk Set from 1957. It is about this very topic  -  a computer moving into the research department of a network TV Station. Who knew that when I first saw this movie on the afternoon movie show after school decades ago in the 70's that it would be topic of my future adult world? The movie is 61 years old and the topic of people vs. computers is still relevant and upsetting to most of the population. (yes, I do know that I just revealed that I love old movies especially with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and I do know that some of you will likely mock me for the revelation-I guess we will see who reads the articles that I write)

The author mentioned that when machines that replaced people in the manufacturing of products happened swiftly, many companies and employees were unprepared. Many people a few years ago thought that "office" jobs would not be affected. Wrong - here is a quote from the article

"For example, were seeing A.I. technology companies targeting the replacement of what's estimated to be up to 50 percent of current employees  in the finance sector over the next 10 years.  We would have considered these types of jobs "safe" from automation only a few years ago."

The article has the same message in several ways. Times and jobs change, and we must adapt quickly and efficiently to stay ahead of trends in our profession. The author mentioned that 10 years ago we would not have thought taxi drivers would be becoming obsolete, but Uber and Lyft have changed that industry quickly. Those remaining taxi drivers and the new Lyft and Uber drivers are looking at being replaced by autonomous vehicles in the near future. Regardless of your personal opinion on owning/using an autonomous vehicle...they are coming.

Many of our companies are doing more with less. This will include using A.I. In the long run this will effect the finance/accounting departments of our companies. We will need to be prepared. The author goes on to say this: "The good news here, however, is that previous technology revolutions have demonstrated that these changes also create new opportunities and entirely new kinds of jobs. The world will need more people who are able to do jobs that A.I. cannot. To succeed, then, we need to robot-proof ourselves and our workforce."

We are lucky in the credit profession to have people watching out for the trends, changes and needs of our profession with NACM. As part of NACM we have FCIB, ICEL, CFDD and other groups keeping tabs on the changing world. These organizations pass on the word to us through classes at National Credit Congress, Western Region Credit Conference (WRCC), Business Credit magazine, National Board meetings and local education groups like our ICEL. Staying up to date is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I understand the work I do today is not the same as it was 10 and 20 years ago and won't be the same even 5 years from now. The only way I can stay vital is to be informed, educated and aware of what is coming and how it will affect me and my employer. Constant education is the key education even in the second 1/2 of my life. The article says this about education: "To meet the need of these non-traditional students, it's time that educational organizations fully embrace certifications focused around mastery and demonstrated competency, not seat time. With this approach, students would get credit for what they actually know, not how much time they've spent in a classroom."

As you can see the article mentions certifications and non-traditional students, both are topics NACM's education programs have long ago perfected. For those of us who have already achieved our certification and those on the path to obtain certification we know how great the credit education we are receiving is. In obtaining my CCE a few years ago I was not trying to forestall being replaced by A.I specifically, but I was trying to keep my mind focused and fresh to the changes in credit. A truly good credit manager does more than crunch numbers and read credit reports. We have relationships with customers that are just as valuable as the sales force. For those of you looking into a certification or wondering what value a certification provides remember the story of the taxi driver and the quote about certifications from the business article above. Look into attending WRCC in Salt Lake City in October - be prepared for the changes ahead and ready to adapt.

Change is coming - are you ready for it?