Deloitte Global Intelligent Automation Study Reveals Dramatic Acceleration in Adoption of Automation Technologies
73% of Organizations Worldwide Are Now Using Automation Technologies – Such as Robotics, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing – up From 58% in 2019
New research from Deloitte, “Automation with Intelligence: Pursuing Organization-wide Reimagination,” reveals that the number of organizations deploying automation at scale has tripled in the space of two years. COVID-19 accelerated the need for automation solutions – particularly those that offer options for scalability and rapid deployment – within enterprise organizations. However, while adoption of automation technologies has increased rapidly, only a third of survey respondents say they have an enterprise-wide intelligent automation (IA) strategy.
The survey, now in its fifth year, Deloitte polled 441 executives from 29 countries to examine C-suite and leadership perspectives on the state of automation within organizations today, how IA is impacting employees and the effect of COVID-19 on automation strategies.
Key takeaways from the study show that two-thirds (68%) of business leaders used automation to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one-third accelerated their investment in cloud-hosted automation. In addition, 13% of leaders say their organization has implemented over 50 automations, up from 8% in 2019 and 4% in 2018. With this rise in deployment, other areas of organizations have also seen impact. The study shows that 23% of workers have seen their roles and ways of working change because of the implementation of IA, while one in 10 has had to retrain.
“The study shows that, while organizations are widely adopting automation and using it to increase productivity, reduce costs, improve accuracy and enhance customer experience, IA tools and techniques have yet to be used to their fullest potential,” said Gina Schaefer, managing director and US intelligent automation lead, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “To drive better outcomes, businesses should ensure they have a clear vision for their automation strategies, eliminate barriers such as process fragmentation and lack of information technology (IT) readiness, and train their employees to work with machines in order to achieve the best possible outcomes in the Age of With™.”
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Only about a third of organizations have an IA strategy
To succeed, executives should first determine how to use IA to achieve their business objectives and put into place a robust IA strategy for success. However, the study showed that only 26% of piloting and 38% implementing and scaling organizations have an enterprise–wide IA strategy. In addition, only 40% of piloting and 65% of implementing and scaling organizations claimed to have a clear, accepted vision and ambition for IA.
In addition, while survey respondents acknowledge that adopting and scaling IA technologies can provide significant benefits, a large number of survey respondents have not calculated the payback period of automation projects. Among organizations in the pilot phase, half have not estimated the payback period and over a third (36%) that are implementing and scaling solutions have not done so, either.
Overcoming barriers to deliver value
As organizations move along the automation maturity curve, many consistent barriers continue to hold them back from adopting automation at scale. Process fragmentation and a lack of IT readiness remain the top two barriers, as they have in the past two years. Survey responses showed resistance to change as the third, closely followed by lack of a clear vision.
The survey showed only 38% of organizations have mature process definitions, standards and management. In addition, even though having a highly supportive IT function equipped with the right technology, infrastructure and cybersecurity is crucial, only 37% reported that they have appropriate standards.
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Leveraging the power of humans with machines
Performing work by combining humans with machines implies far–reaching change in an organization; according to survey respondents, many organizations are not as ready for this change as they could be, and 58% of organizations have not yet calculated how their workforce’s roles and tasks, and the way tasks are performed, will change.
In order to prepare for the disruption automation may bring to their organizations over the next three years, study respondents expect 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.
Of those leaders working in organizations that are already re-training workers, 59% are providing learning that focuses on process skills, including active listening and critical thinking. Meanwhile, around 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 Deloitte roles.
COVID-19 accelerates automation
Most survey respondents reported that their organizations are rethinking how work is done in response to COVID–19. Most notably, automation has enabled more remote working and addressed rapid increases in processing requirements. Twenty–three percent of survey respondents said they have prioritized automations that improve their organizational resilience.
“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,” said Justin Watson, partner and global leader of Deloitte’s robotic and cognitive automation practice, Deloitte MCS Limited. “As organizations 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 contact centers to allow 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 organizational resilience.”
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