Automation will enable businesses greater agility and the ability to survive difficult times, specifically with the likes of enabling self-service processes and operations for immediate benefits.
This is according to new research by Blue Prism on Automation and Future of Work. The research is based on information collated from more than 6,700 knowledge workers and senior IT decision makers globally.
The report found that in Australia 70% see robotic process automation (RPA) as solving the global productivity problem, 80% for driving digital transformation, and 78% as essential for business to remain competitive.
Furthermore, C-suite executives globally are embracing automation with 92% looking to deploy and extend these capabilities throughout their organisations, while 81% indicated automation is critical in scaling technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) across their business.
Those surveyed agree that RPA is providing a positive impact on work, business agility and resilience. Benefits cited include creating and enhancing jobs, saving time and costs, accelerating and improving work quality, and making organisations more innovative.
A core element of the research was considering the role of RPA for productivity. According to Blue Prism, across every industry, most knowledge-based work isn't delivering to its potential, evidenced by lower global productivity that's said to be at one-tenth of what it was 40 years ago for some economies.
With COVID-19, organisations face additional challenges from reduced workforces, customer demands and macroeconomic pressures, the survey finds.
The results reveal a positive link between automation, global productivity, business agility and resilience.
In Australia where 250 knowledge workers and 106 senior IT decision makers were surveyed as part of the study, 60% believe too much time is wasted on administration tasks, while it is telling that 70% of those decision makers see automation as a solution to the global productivity problem, and 76% feel it can help them meet customer demands too.
When it comes to future-proofing their business, in Australia 78% of business decision makers believe that automation is essential for their businesses to remain competitive.
These sentiments are a reflection of the major time savings, improved accuracy and cost savings reported by Australian business leaders, 91% of which already have plans in place to extend the use of automation across their businesses, Blue Prism states.
In addition, Australian decision makers also recognise that strategic technology investments such as RPA can keep their digital transformation efforts on track, the survey shows.
In fact, 89% surveyed identified RPA as an important factor in driving digital transformation - with 34% indicating that RPA allows them to scale the deployment of other emerging technologies too.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 58% of Australian decision makers reported a struggle to meet customer demand, and 76% felt that automation would help address this challenge.
Despite the noted benefits, there are still fears around automation but these appear to be diminishing, according to the survey. The results show there is a growing level of trust with more organisations adopting digital colleagues.
Australian knowledge workers in particular are becoming increasingly comfortable with RPA, just 32% worry about related job losses in the next three years.
More than half of knowledge workers are excited at the opportunities that RPA will create, while decision makers feel that adopting new tech will attract talent.
Furthermore, 74% of Australian business decision makers believe that their employees would trust working alongside a digital workforce and 71% would even trust them to manage employees.
The global survey also revealed there is a need for re-skilling and training, with more than three quarters surveyed indicating that there are skills which they are constantly sourcing for, such as data analysis and data science.
To address this, 74% of Australian knowledge workers surveyed indicated their organisations are providing learning opportunities for new skills/qualifications when they introduce technologies that will transform their job.
Blue Prism also surveyed its own global customer base, particularly in relation to the impact of COVID-19. The researchers found that 94% see a renewed urgency to use RPA as a lifeline for maintaining business continuity and ensuring a higher level of overall responsiveness.
94% of these customers also see Blue Prism's Digital Workforce enabling greater competitiveness while supporting remote collaboration in this new normal.
100% of respondents are now looking to expand or extend RPA use within their organisation, a sign of continued customer momentum and permanence.
Blue Prism VP ANZ Greg Eyre, confirmed this reflected the type of conversation he and his team across Australia and New Zealand were having with both new and prospective customers noting, ANZ organisations have recognised the operational agility RPA has been able to deliver during this unprecedented time and are fast tracking plans to augment and scale their automation programmes.
Blue Prism CEO and executive chairman Jason Kingdon says, "These survey results help validate the sea change we see happening from automation. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on just what a digital workforce can do for business continuity, but it is just the beginning. “
"This is about using intelligent automation to empower the non-technical knowledge worker to do more, faster and more efficiently, without having to rely on IT.
“This goes beyond using desktop macros or screen scraping productivity tools for a quick ROI, intelligent automation is at the center of enabling digital transformations for large scale enterprises."