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Intelligent automation continues to be a top driver of the future of work, according to our recent study, and its benefits became clear in the pandemic. To reap the full advantages, businesses need to move from isolated to widescale deployment.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the advantages of intelligent automation were well understood: faster processes, reduced bottlenecks and even systems that could automatically take decisive, intelligent action. As far back as our 2016 Work Ahead study, automation was named by respondents globally and across industries as one of the highest-impact forces on the future of work.

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To better understand the role of digital technologies, including automation, in a world dominated by digital and disrupted by Covid, we recently surveyed 4,000 executives globally and across industries. 

Five key themes emerged from our research and analysis around automation: 

  • Automation is coming of age. Automation is now an integral part of the modern enterprise. Compared with 2016, more respondents see process automation as a force multiplier on the future of work. AI and analytics are also cited as crucial components in enabling intelligent automation. 
  • More (and more) process work is pivoting to machines. The volume of work performed by intelligent machines is increasing rapidly — with many organizations taking advantage of automation to derive meaning at scale from a deluge of process data. The volume of both complex and routine decisions executed by machines will grow by about 50% between now and 2023. As automation approaches integrate AI and other cognitive technologies into the mix, organizations will move even more process work to machines. 
  • Highly scaled automation deployments are rare (for now). Only 8% of respondents report having deployed automation at a significant scale. Most implementations are piecemeal, targeting process pain points rather than integrating processes together into a workflow. We expect this to change as enterprises see the value of implementing increasingly sophisticated automation toolsets across business functions and focus on supporting employees in the new way of work. 
  • The more you augment processes, the greater the returns. Respondents who have augmented more business processes with automation, AI and analytics are realizing greater outcomes than those with fewer augmented processes. The areas of higher performance ranged from operational efficiency and decision-making, to reduced risk and a better customer experience. 
  • Scaling automation requires new skills and organizational models. Needed skills will shift toward “softer” skills such as decision making, learning and creativity as automation in the workplace grows. The radical shift will happen when automation moves beyond a series of isolated initiatives to the defining factor in a workflow, reshaping how the enterprise performs work.

Download the full study here and also visit Cognizant’s intelligent process automation section of the web. 


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