Tech Straight Talk: How Will Automation Impact Jobs and What Are the Benefits?

August 2017

As process automation becomes prevalent, its impact on today’s jobs is clearer. Data on the benefits of automating these jobs is also being reported. The findings show that up to a third of jobs will be impacted by automation, and its benefits are material. Recent research has revealed the following findings:

  • Automation’s Impact on Jobs
    • Jobs likely to be automated include those characterized by medium to high transaction volume and a low to medium degree of process complexity
    • According to a recent study, up to 38% of U.S. jobs, 30% of U.K. jobs, 35% of German jobs, and 21% of Japanese jobs could be impacted by automation by the early 2030s. ScottMadden Robotic Process Automation (RPA) projects indicate that entire jobs are not being replaced by RPA, but rather small parts of jobs, potentially across numerous employees. For this reason, companies are realizing RPA advantages in increasing employee productivity and satisfaction versus eliminating workforce
    • Although these numbers are significant, it is unlikely whole jobs will be automated immediately, as automation adoption will be slow initially due to high upfront technology costs. Legal and regulatory hurdles can prevent quick adoption as well, as we have seen with the rollout of driverless cars
    • It is expected that new automation technologies in areas like artificial intelligence and robotics will create new jobs in the digital technology area. This expectation is similar to the experience of the industrial revolution, when many more new jobs were created than were displaced and worker productivity dramatically increased
  • Benefits of Automation
    • RPA, one form of digital automation, can increase overall cost savings, productivity, accuracy, scalability, compliance, and security and quickly deliver benefits such as ROIs of 300-800%
    • Automation software costs as little as 12.5% of an onshore shared services FTE and 33% of an offshore shared services FTE
    • One case study revealed a reduction in costs of 80% and a decrease in handling time from 30 to 10 minutes. Within shared services, implementing RPA has led to a reduction in effort of 30-40% in account reconciliation, increased gross sales of 5%, improved gross margin 10-20%, and reduced customer service costs by 30%
    • Additionally, virtual agents, enabled by RPA, can achieve 24-hour customer service coverage without needing to pay for expensive night shifts or coordination between employees across time zones
    • In many companies, automation has allowed workers to focus on higher-value tasks rather than the lower-value, repetitive tasks

Additional Resources:

PwC: UK Economic Outlook and Robotic Process Automation in Shared Services

London School of Economics: Robotic Process Automation – The Next Transformation Level for Shared Services

Additional Contributing Authors: Todd Kennedy, Taylor Huggins, Hayden Overly

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