The Automation Economy is here…. now what?

The Automation Economy is here…. now what?

Dubbed by the World Economic Forum as the 4th industrial revolution, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (in its many forms) is set to shape global job markets, customer expectations and business profitability on a global scale.

Businesses of today cannot sustain their competitive positions as leaders of tomorrow without some sort of investment in RPA and artificial intelligence. The current wave of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, robotic process automation and other advancements, enabling companies to automate an increasing number of routine tasks, will change business as we know it. This technological wave is also said to be creating significant shifts in the world economy.

Lets unpack what this means for businesses and the market at large by looking at 4 key trends and market movements that will be impacted by the Automation Economy:

1. Economies of Scale

The economics of automation are compelling. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 percent annually as improvements in robotic technologies allow robots to match or even outperform their human counterparts in certain tasks.

As such, the deployment of a robotic workforce brings the benefit of scalability with the capabilities to automate a greater volume of business processes. The robots take away the repetitive, mundane tasks such as copying and pasting data, freeing human employees to deliver their best work by focusing on the human touch.

Companies that have implemented robotic automation are already reaping the benefits of savings in time and resources. Banca Popolare Di Sondrio case study was able to automate how it gathers client data from different platforms, reducing the time it takes to create a financial statement letter from one hour to 10 minutes. Telefonica Spain automated many manual management services, reducing the number of errors and handle time and resulting in a total cost saving of €3M within 24 months. HelpLine automated many repetitive, low-value tasks in its fraud prevention process, reducing handle time by 79 percent.

2. Talent Acquisition

There's no way around it – the automation of routine tasks will have a real impact on human jobs. Deloitte estimates that 39 percent of jobs in the legal sector could be automated over the next decade, and other researchers postulate that accountants have a 95 percent chance of losing their jobs to automation in the future.

What we can expect to see in their place will be a new class of jobs, with roles that will sustain and grow the automation eco-system within organizations. Such jobs range from technical automation specialists and developers to automation sales consultants and business analysts.

Haven't heard of these jobs? All it takes is a quick visit to an online job board to realize that these positions are already in demand. As more organizations embrace automation, competition for talent in these areas will become even fiercer. Organizations that will succeed in the automation economy are the ones who are already looking at how to train current talent and reconfigure existing teams to give them the automation competencies they'll need tomorrow and in years to come.

3. Customer Expectations

As customers become accustomed to exceptional service level efficiencies boosted from process automations – their expectations will grow in sophistication regardless of whether those industries have embraced automation or not. They'll expect faster response times and self-service options that are available 24/7. 

Furthermore, by enabling organizations to personalize upsells and cross-sells based on analytics and big data – automation will play a key role in boosting the bottom line. As AI and automation technologies progress, there will be a natural progression towards offering customers solutions that they were not aware that they needed.  Machine learning, for example, can spot patterns in a customer's account activity that signify the customer is having a problem and can alert a human agent to proactively contact the customer to help them solve the issue.

4. Business Costs

As technology evolves companies will compete on the supply side to deliver better value, quality, speed and prices. To leverage RPA effectively, businesses will need to invest in more powerful hardware and super high-speed connectivity. This will support process automations across the globe. In addition, the additional costs will be offset by the ability of robotic automation to improve productivity and free up money currently spent on payroll. Other financial benefits will come in the form of increased customer satisfaction and an organization's ability to scale up or down when demand does, without needing to add or reduce staff.

Future Outlook

The Automation Economy offers the opportunity to innovate and advance far beyond the expectations of today. Robotic process automation technology can give businesses a competitive advantage as our economy shifts — but only when combined with great people, innovative ideas and well-thought-out processes.