The talk about Digital Transformation has been going on for so long, that people tend to get weary. You cannot deny though, that the changes have been profound. Information Technology, that once was considered (not more than) a support function, has come to penetrate every corner of our lives, in business as well as in private.
IDC estimates that by 2023, 52% of the global GDP will be driven by digitally transformed companies, and that over 520 million new apps and services will be developed to support the digital economy. The drivers for this change are massive.
The workplace has however, to a large extent, remained unchanged. Only recently, agile ways of working have brought a change to some industries and much needed changes in communication and collaboration are beginning to change work culture and cooperation across sites and borders.
I find this really interesting – how profound is this change of the workplace? Will it affect us, or will we continue to work in the same way as we have done so far? What about automation, will it change all our job roles and leave us with a working week of 30 hours and lots of time to think? Therefore… IDC launched, together with Blue Prism, a survey in the four Nordic countries to verify what we thought to be something of a bigger magnitude.
We found that
- After a long period of pilots and proof of concepts, business process automationand its more intelligent successor, intelligent automation, will, in the next 2-3 years, be adopted on a larger scale. The methodologies and good practice are maturing, but for you that intend to adopt, you need to read on, to learn about the challenges you need to overcome.
- Employee experience is considered the most important driver, but there is no consensus as to what it means. Our conclusion is that until employers have learnt how to build employee loyalty through incentives, learning and development journeys and branding directed towards employees, employee experience will continue to be one of those things everyone talks about, but no one really knows what it is.
- Workplace transformation is in the early days. There are significant efficiency gains to be found, but companies will start by focusing on the low hanging fruits – communication, employee experience measurements and, of course – training. Most companies have realized the shortage of specialist skills. No news. Therefore, up-skilling and even re-skilling programs are initiated to empower existing staff, rather than doing the traditional recruiting and hiring process.
Let's look at some (hopefully quite interesting) details;
Almost 50% of mid-sized companies (500-1000 employees) are already adopting or plan to adopt automation within 12 months. A significant change compared to earlier research. Apparently, the large companies, like Ericsson and Nordea, with great business case for automation and huge amounts of repetitive tasks, have spearheaded implementation, and provided enough credibility for others to start planning. These mid-sized companies tend also to combine automation with other large changes, like an ERP replacement, or major process or organizational overhaul.
But beware – the challenges in automation remain. Like other new technologies, the lack of expertise and experience turns up as main inhibitor, followed by staff resistance and lack of management understanding. For all of you thinking about automation adoption – make sure you find the right partner, with the right experience, prepare your staff, and prepare your management. If badly managed, it will slow down your project, and it will create bad-will and even brand damage.
Automation changes job roles (it does!), and causes needs for changes in your skills profile, but this research also shows that it has freed up time and can improve employee satisfaction.