The Economist - Inteligence Unit

The advance of automation: business hopes, fears and realities

Automation was once a term associated exclusively with manufacturing. Today, after three decades of advances in digital technology, there are few fields of organisational activity left untouched by it. Businesses in every industry are using software to automate the processes that guide their daily operations as they seek the efficiencies that come from replacing manual tasks with machine-operated ones. However, its usage is accelerating and widening to create opportunities for business growth, and to encourage greater creativity and innovation from employees. Such hopes are buoyed as artificial
intelligence (AI) gives rise to intelligent automation technologies.

The automation of business processes has made considerable headway, according to the results of a survey conducted for this report. Over 90% of respondents’ organisations are using automation technologies, and just over half extensively, particularly for processes relating to IT, operations and production, and finance. Most are satisfied with
the returns they are seeing from automation, which so far mainly take the form of higher productivity. Most also say that automation has helped their organisation to kickstart digital transformation.

Not all expectations are yet being met. However, there is clearly room for organisations to improve their utilisation of automation.

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