We’ve been at this for two years now, and the chorus keeps getting louder. The pace of change being driven by automation and AI continues to accelerate. Blue Prism just wrapped up its second annual survey on the future of work and intelligent automation, which canvassed the opinions of more than 6,700 knowledge workers and senior IT decision makers, operating in multiple sectors – across 13 countries.
In this post, we’re going to analyze some of the key takeaways from our survey. These takeaways will shed some light on the cultural shift towards reskilling and embracing ‘intelligent’ robotic process automation (RPA) that runs a Digital Workforce. We highlight why RPA is top of mind with C-suite execs, the impact that COVID-19 is having on business continuity and the road ahead.
The Global Productivity Problem
The first big reveal is that 81% of business decision makers view RPA as essential for their businesses to remain competitive. And it’s no wonder, as businesses across are contending with unprecedented challenges from COVID-19, reduced workforces, increasing customer demands and macroeconomic pressures. Global productivity growth has stagnated, and 78% of these leaders view RPA as a solution to this global problem. More specifically, 81% surveyed believe RPA/Automation can solve time wasted on administration tasks and 93% feel it can help them meet customer demands - as well as focusing on more strategic roles, improving accuracy, saving time and costs too.
Driving digital transformation
The second big reveal is that 92% of global decision makers recognize that strategic technology investments like RPA can keep their digital transformation efforts on track. In fact, a strong majority not only see RPA as core to their digital transformation efforts – but nearly half indicate that it allows them to scale the deployment of other emerging technologies too.
Automation isn’t a Job Killer
The Third big reveal is that all the doom and gloom headlines about automation being a job killer appear exaggerated or just aren’t true. Of those surveyed only, 33% harbor fears about job loss in the next three years as RPA and automation continue to have a positive impact on workplaces. Automation anxiety is diminishing as knowledge workers become increasingly comfortable with RPA, with 81% indicating they understand the benefits that automation can bring to their organization. More than half of knowledge workers are excited at the opportunities that RPA will create, while decision makers feel that adopting new tech will attract talent. Job roles and responsibilities may change but plenty of “work” will always remain. The notion of employees being gutted for a Digital Workforce does not bear out in this survey.
A Need to Reskill and Adapt
The fourth big reveal highlights a need to re-skill and train employees, with over three quarters of respondents indicating that there are skills which they are constantly sourcing for, such as data analysis and data science. To address this, 78% of organizations are providing learning opportunities for new skills/qualifications when they introduce technologies that will transform their job. Further, 80% of knowledge workers feel comfortable reskilling for a change in work role, indicating a growing trust in automation and willingness to reskill alongside digital colleagues.
The New Normal — Post COVID-19
We’ve also been able to gauge the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses. In a short survey of our own Blue Prism customers we found that 94% see a renewed urgency to use RPA as a lifeline for maintaining business continuity and ensuring a higher level of overall responsiveness. 94% of these customers also see Blue Prism’s Digital Workforce enabling greater competitiveness while supporting remote collaboration in this “new normal”. 100% of respondents are now looking to expand or extend RPA use within their organization, a sign of continued customer momentum and permanence.
The Road Ahead
We’re reminded of a quote from Robert Kennedy, “like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” In other words, the “intelligent automation train” has left the station and there’s no turning back now!
This report validates the critical roles this technology has in shaping our present and future workplace and is being viewed as a force for good. Rather than just providing short-term tactical savings – RPA holds the key to expanding the global economy by providing an engine for sustainable growth. It enables organizations to work collaboratively and achieve much more, faster and more efficiently, while creating more skills, opportunities and roles for human workers.
Looking further forward, we’ll increasingly see humans driving collaborative innovation and imagination, working in tandem with Digital Workers, and this partnership will be the recipe to success in the post COVID-19 digital age. And, the future we envision is a Digital Workforce for Every Enterprise.