Businesses have learned the hard way that global disruptions, such as pandemics, can also affect the workforce. Climate change, trade wars, and other macro events are also potential threats. Resiliency, the ability to recover quickly from disruptive change, is now a front-page headline. And the main topics of today’s resiliency story are business continuity, work distribution, cloud migration, and cost efficiency. Automation, in all forms, helps to respond to these macro events.
Intelligent automation presents an opportunity for businesses to build much greater adaptability into their operating models and service delivery frameworks. For example, intelligent automation can be deployed to handle peaks in demand for core processes that get goods, information, or services to customers. Digital workers will execute supply chain processes in a time of disruption, adding resilience and business continuity. Therefore, fear of future global disruptions will drive automation investment and faster transformation of the workforce. This report helps organizations understand how this phase of digital transformation will affect the workforce and provides insights on how to plan for these changes.
1. Tomorrow’s workforce looks radically different than today’s. Due to the advancements in automation, 80% of surveyed firms expect at least some disruption in their workforce over the next five years. While this is a projection, the early indicators of change are already here. On average, respondents need to retrain, upskill, or change roles in the workforce due to new automation initiatives on a faster than yearly basis (every 10 months), and this is expected to accelerate given the current economic environment.
2. Automation will have differing impacts on the workforce. While nearly all workers will have their jobs changed as a result of automation, the nature of that change will vary based on the structure of their work, as well as the industry they are in. Survey respondents see workers who perform less complex tasks as more vulnerable to automation. While less complex work may be replaced by automation, more complex work may be transformed in other ways, with automation creating both benefits and challenges.
3. Organizations must prepare for the future of work and keep up with automation acceleration. The goal will be to successfully navigate the changes that are brought on by increased automation. This includes hiring and retaining talent that will thrive in a new workforce, changing operational models to embrace human-machine collaboration, and creating change management practices to guide workers through the transformation. How firms implement practices to deal with these challenges will determine how competitive they are in the future.
The Forces Of Automation Will Transform How Business Is Done
The three main forces of automation: scale, control, and convergence. These forces describe how automation will affect how businesses grow, operate, and make decisions.
› Scale. Increased automation allows businesses to grow with investment in data and technology, rather than investment in human labor and/or physical infrastructure. Sixty-two percent of surveyed firms say this new form of scale will have a significant impact (8+) on their organization in five years. The average impact of scale from surveyed automation leaders is a 7.8, on a scoring system of 1 (no significant effect) to 10 (massive, fundamental changes to how business is done).
› Control. Intelligent automation will, by design, transfer a level of decision making and management of the business from humans to machines. Data and algorithms will help to drive decisions that affect both machines and humans, which will make explaining those decisions more critical than ever. Sixty-six percent of surveyed firms rate this shift of control as having a significant impact on their organization in five years (average 7.9).
› Convergence. Intelligent automation creates new interaction points between the digital and physical world, which will radically change existing tasks of human workers. For example, IoT sensors and digital workers will replace or alter many routine tasks performed by humans today. Sixty-three percent of surveyed firms rate convergence as having a significant impact on their organization in five years (average 7.8).
The forces of automation will accelerate the rate that business is done and work is executed. This is a double-edged sword for the workforce, they’ll need to rely on automation to do their jobs faster and better, but they’ll also be subject to an ever-accelerating pace of work. Sixty-six percent of surveyed firms expect that information overload and a faster
pace of work will have a significant impact on their organization in five years (average 7.8).
Today’s Workflow Modernization Sets The Stage
Digital transformation to date has prioritized business productivity. The next stage will focus on reinventing the way that business is done. The IBM commissioned Forrester Consulting report, “Reinventing Workflows,” found that digital transformation to date has emphasized process and workflow modernization. Workflow modernization will continue to provide productivity, customer engagement, and employee experience benefits. However, over 75% of surveyed decision makers in the “Reinventing Workflows” report acknowledge that further digital transformation goes beyond process modernization, i.e., it will require a fundamental shift in how work is done. This next stage of digital transformation will not only change how work is done, but it will also substantially affect the makeup of the workforce.
Reference Article “The Future of Work is Now” by Forrester for IBM. Published Date: April 2020