Two thirds of business leaders used automation to respond to the impact of COVID-19

  • Two thirds (68%) of business leaders used automation to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research from Deloitte on robotic and intelligent automation.

    The professional services firm’s survey of 441 executives from 29 countries highlights that the pandemic forced organisations to rethink how workis done.

    Around three in four (73%) of organisations worldwide are now using automation technologies - such as robotics, machine learning and natural language processing - up from 48% in 2019.

    Meanwhile, the number of organisations deploying automation at scale has tripled in the space of two years.

    13% of leaders say their organisation has implemented over 50 automations according to the research, up from 8% in 2019 and 4% in 2018. 

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    Danny McConnell, Technology Partner at Deloitte in Belfast said: “Automation has been a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic – allowing for rapid increases in processing capacity, new processes to support the response, increasing productivity and accuracy, whilst also improving the experience of customers and employees.

    “As organisations scrambled to support home working en-masse and provide Covid-secure work sites, automation took the strain to ensure business continuity. For instance, by triaging requests to allow contact centre agents to manage the higher number of calls and emails or accelerating the validation of loans from financial institutions.

    In the months ahead, investment in automation technologies will continue to flow with the direct aim of bolstering organisational resilience.”

    One in 10 workers has already had to retrain as a result of automation

    To prepare for the disruption automation will bring to their organisations over the next three years, business leaders expect that they will have to retrain 34% of their workforce because their roles will sufficiently change as a result of the implementation of new automation technologies.

    Today, one in four (23%) workers have seen a change to their working roles due to these tech implications, while one in ten (10%) have already had to retrain as their roles have been affected by automation.

    59% of leaders retraining employees already say they are providing learning that focuses on process skills, like active listening and critical thinking.

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    Half (51%) are offering retraining in cognitive abilities, such as creativity and problem solving.

    This suggests a move away from traditional technology user training, towards encouraging workers to effectively use new technology in a way that augments and adapts their roles.

    However, 58% of organisations have not yet calculated how their workforce’s roles and tasks, and the way tasks are performed, will change.

    Jamie Moore, Robotics Lead at Deloitte’s robotic and cognitive automation practice in Northern Ireland added: “Leaders must keep in mind that successful automation is not only about new technologies, it's about people. A worrying number of leaders are yet to consider how their workforce will be disrupted as a result of automation.

    “Understanding this will serve two benefits - firstly, to highlight the skills that workers will need to ensure new technologies are rolled-out and managed in an efficient way and secondly, to pave the way to change workers’ perception of automation from a rival to an asset.”

    Source: Written from press release

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