Talking to… Ivo Ribeiro about digitalization, automation, and the impacts on the labor market

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Ivo Ribeiro joined LOQR in early 2017 and is currently a DevOps Team Lead. He studied Informatics Engineering in ESTG where he had the scholarship to work on entrepreneur support systems, and also developed the 3D Game and website for the Gamification in Higher Education Ph.D. thesis. Those technology and economics-related experiences sparked his interest in economic problems and how technologically they could be solved.

Ivo, how digitalization affects the labor market? 

This is a problem that has been widely discussed for some decades, but in my opinion, normally the discussion starts with wrong propositions; the most common is that digitalization causes unemployment. This is not an exclusive accusation of digitalization, it is usually pointed to innovation in several sectors, market globalization, or generational changes on the demand of a specific or a group of products and services.

The world is constantly changing, driven by the life of each one of us, with different requirements and needs, those needs are the fuel for changes, and changes are needed to progress.

Can you give some examples of why can’t we stop those changes?

Yes, I can exemplify with the good old hand handwritten letter, should we ban the email because it takes jobs to mailman? Should we ban the importations of pineapples from another country that has a better climate to grow this kind of fruit, should we stop using digital platforms that make our life so simpler?

Changes occurred in all the periods of history and in my point of view, the benefits are much greater than disadvantages. In a shorter timeframe, those changes may indeed cause some reallocation of labor to other areas that are needed by population, needs, in some cases, empowered by those same changes. Computers are the best at performing long tedious and repetitive tasks while human resources are dedicated to other relevant tasks.

Picking that technology reference, are those changes present in the financial sector?

Yes, of course, document OCR for example, but we humans are still needed to build, maintain and improve this kind of system or even joining forces to get a double check on those documents. This is only one example of how labor adapts and must adjust to new and more productive tasks without a major disruption of human labor.

How can those financial tech changes contribute to the improvement of life quality?

Let me give you a personal example I recently moved to another city so I had to update my address on my bank; fortunately, I did not need to go personally to the branch, because my bank use LOQR’s customer data update solution, this was very important to me, taking into account the current pandemic context, it took me only a few minutes, saved me a car trip and also saved me from potential harm. So, I think I am a good example of how banking digitalization, can change people’s lives for better.

Another great example is the remote account opening (link), thanks to technological advances, we can now open a remote bank account in less than 10 minutes, anytime anywhere from our mobile device. Or pensioners could make their digital proof of life avoiding unnecessary travels.

Those are good examples of how digitalization can improve our life quality!

What is your role in all of this and what do you think will happen in the next couple of years?

My role is very simple, I’m an enabler.  A lot of my, and my team, work is to automate processes like infrastructure, monitoring, continuous integration / continuous delivery so that we can dedicate that saved time to do more productive things on top of that work. This results on faster and better product delivery to the customer, so it’s a win-win situation.

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is changing the final product standard’s but in a near future I think this will also change the way we work, things like artificial intelligence network security, decision support systems, or even low code platforms are really game changers on this matter.

In your opinion what is the best effect on labor caused by those changes?

Specialization. We are forced to learn, to improve knowledge, to automate repeated tasks. As a consequence, our productivity is much greater than before. The data show us that the most productive countries are the highly skilled ones, and education has a major role in this matter.

Ivo, if you had to define LOQR in one sentence, which would it be?

LOQR is innovation, the improvement of our digital and physical lives.