Automation, traditionally linked with fears of job losses, looks set to make life easier for human beings across the globe in 2020. 

From freeing up workers to providing excellent customer experiences, the robots are here – and they’re helping make business better.

1. Automation is taking off

Robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue grew 63.1% in 2018 to $846 million (R12.2 billion) in 2019, making it the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, according to Gartner, the global research and advisory company.

Forrester, the US market research company, has predicted that the RPA market will grow to $2.9 billion in 2021. It means that we will be seeing more and more companies implementing RPA, resulting in staff and customers engaging with digital workers more frequently, whether we realise it or not.

2. Automation efforts to continue focusing on the back office

The biggest adopters of RPA so far, Gartner said, are banks, insurance companies, telecommunications companies and utility companies. These kinds of companies are all facing increasing pressure from “disruptor” competitors, but are looking to gain a competitive
edge from their technology investments. Given their legacy environments, RPA offers them an effective way to quickly realise efficiency gains without major restructuring.

3. Need for end-to-end automation will shift the focus to the front office

RPA excels in system-driven process automation, which makes it good for lots of things, but not everything.
The year 2020 will see companies getting the best out of RPA by combining it with technologies that can automate front office logic.
This logic, contained in knowledge bases and staff brains, is increasingly being handled by specialist front-office digital workers. These
digital workers ensure that all the right questions are asked, answers are given and information collected in context, across staff-assisted
and digital channels.
They then work directly with their RPA digital co-workers to ensure that the resulting back-office processing is performed flawlessly,
repetitively and tirelessly.
This combination of front-office and back-office digital workers is forming a dream team that is allowing companies to achieve true end-
to-end automation in a consistent, compliant and context-relevant way, at scale.

4. Automation will accelerate change in the job market

The greater adoption of automation in 2020 will accelerate the reshaping of the current job landscape. The World Economic Forum’s 2018
Future of Jobs report highlighted that while 50% of the companies surveyed said they expect automation to reduce their full-time workforce to some extent by 2022, 38% said they expect to extend their workforce to productivity-enhancing roles and many expect automation to lead to new roles being created.
What these new roles will look like will most likely become a lot clearer over the next few years. What is clear is that automation can unlock
human potential by removing the need for people to perform robotic, repetitive jobs that dehumanise them at present. It allows people to think more, dream more and communicate more. They can specialise in the optimisation of the customer experience rather than the replication of the company formula.

Schools and universities that continue to teach memory-based and replication thinking will find themselves increasingly irrelevant.

Ryan Falkenberg is co-CEO at CLEVVA, an augmented artificial intelligence technology company.

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