News broke last year that Inland Revenue was to cut its workforce of 5647 staff to only 3700 people by 2021- almost a third of its workforce – with many of those jobs to go this year.

The $1.9 billion business transformation programme is a decade-long shift towards a more digital way of doing business.

Around the corner and along the road a bit from where IRD used to have offices in Whanganui, staff at the BNZ will take little comfort in knowing they are not among the 50 staff throughout the country the bank has just announced are about to lose their jobs.

More cuts are possible, the bank says, as it adapts to changing times, while across the ditch the bank's parent company is laying off 6000 staff.

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Related story: Looming job cuts not off the table for Whanganui's BNZ branch


Behind the scenes of such restructures is the growing influence of smarter technology.

Loan applications, once handled by a bank officer and which could take days to process, can now be processed within minutes from the comfort of your own living room.

Smarter algorithms and wider sharing of databases are making people redundant. Most predictions say it will only get worse as artificial intelligence, delivery drones, self-driving cars and robots lead us into an industrial-revolutionesque societal shift.

Enough pre-eminent folk have voiced concerns about the impact of smarter technologies that some countries are now debating concepts such as a universal basic income for everybody given the inevitable large numbers of jobs that will rapidly disappear.

It's hard to predict the severity of what we are told is coming. Hopefully its hyperbole. If not, who's going to be earning money to buy anything? At what point do efficiencies become self-defeating?


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