Thursday: Robots and humans coexisting

Regardless of the technology that a PE firm implements, the right human personnel is needed to succeed.

Today’s newsletter takes a look at the importance of personnel when implementing technology in a private equity firm.

“There is a need for technology,” said one panelist at Private Debt Investor‘s CFOs & COOs Forum Wednesday when discussing treasury needs, such as managing liquidity.

Automating data collection is increasingly a topic of conversation when it comes to investor reporting, as mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter. In fact, big data – large data sets that can be analyzed to reveal trends or patterns – is seen as having the most potential to disrupt the industry, according to a report by PEI/RBC Investor & Treasury Services.

However, technology is only as good as the personnel behind it, noted one CFO panelist when discussing the automation of their firm’s internal systems.

“I found the right person that loved technology and the idea of automation,” the panelist said. “He is like our guru. He’s like the ambassador of the firm. If you don’t have someone that has that skill set or desire, it can fail.”

Other members in the industry feel the same way, with more than half of the respondents to the same survey saying that the reason their organization isn’t planning to implement AI, automation or robotics is a lack of expertise.

Even Jolt Capital, a Paris-based growth equity investor, which has built its own deal-sourcing robot, requires a human touch. Jean Schmitt, a managing partner at the firm, described working with the robot – named Jolt Ninja – as like working with a rookie human that responds well to training.

“Every week I get an email saying here are the companies that have been matched by Ninja,” Schmitt previously told Private Funds CFO. “At the start, probably only one in 20 leads would be interesting, but the more I tell it what I like, the better it gets.”

Today’s letter was prepared by Brian Bonilla.