- Implementing automation at scale will become "necessary" for companies to be successful by 2022, say 84% of 775 business leaders surveyed by consulting firm PwC. Automation deployment at large means strengthening long-term competitiveness for 7 in 10 decision makers.
- Most AI "first-movers," or companies whose systems are already fully optimized for AI, cited security and product innovation as their main motivation for adoption. "Late-comers," or those still at the pilot stage, say cost efficiency is what's pushing them to automate.
- Aside from the boost in competitiveness, 75% of companies also expect employee satisfaction — a key priority in the face of industry's talent thirst — to take an upward trend once automation is part of the daily workflow.
A growing choir of industry watchers say automation will likely reshape businesses, but how employees will respond to a reimagined landscape isn't as clear.
Just 12% of employees surveyed by Robert Half in June say they're concerned about automation's impact to their job. But 82% of managers anticipate challenges to getting staff up to speed on new technologies.
The argument most likely to endear employees to the idea of automation adoption is its promise to streamline workflows, removing repetitive tasks from to-do lists and allowing time for creative work, said Lane Lillquist, cofounder and CTO of InCloudCounsel, in an interview with CIO Dive.
"Any tool that helps people be more productive will improve their satisfaction," said Lillquist, whose company automates negotiation and management tasks for financial and legal firms.
As automation frees up employees to focus on higher value activities, it will also allow them to obtain smarter results, improving employee performance and opening the door for efficiency rewards, said Dan Priest, principal with PwC US, in an email to CIO Dive.
But the improvements automation adoption at scale promises are unlikely to happen on their own. Lillquist said managers will still need to "sell" the virtues of automation to their staffers in order to sidestep humans' natural resistance to change.
Priest highlights three ways companies can ensure automation adoption goes smoothly:
- Understanding what role automaton will play in the future of work. For example, humans will continue to create and innovate, make decisions, manage and motivate teams.
- Training team members on how to change their own work by increasing the use of automation.
- Incentivizing teams that eliminate work through automation. Rewards can range from simple recognition of achievements to paying bonuses to employees who produce automations adopted by others.