American businesses pass tipping point towards universal automation adoption

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: The technology market has passed the tipping point with more than half of organisations today having adopted intelligent automation, as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) shift from emerging technologies to mainstream business solutions, according to a new analyst report by Futurum Research, commissioned by Automation Anywhere, an automation technology firm.

The ‘Report for the State of RPA and Smart Automation‘ interviewed more than 1,000 business executives in North America and found that while 75.3% believe automation will make them more competitive, significant disparities exist between industries – with public sector and, surprisingly, technology companies lagging significantly when it comes to adoption.

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Not All Sectors are Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

While more than half of businesses in North America have already implemented some type of automation solution, such as RPA and AI, the research uncovered notable differences between industries. For instance, nearly 9 out of 10 manufacturing organisations have already adopted some form of intelligent automation, compared to less than 3 in 10 public sector organisations. The research unveiled the following details:

  • Media and Publishing – At 87.5 percent, this industry has the highest rate of intelligent automation adoption. The complete digitisation of media has driven companies and content publishers to replace manual content and media management processes with flexible, adaptable, machine-learning-based automated solutions.
  • Manufacturing – Nearly 9 in 10, or 87.3% of manufacturing organisations have already adopted some form of smart automation. However, this number is even higher among larger organisations. An impressive 100 percent of North American manufacturing companies with between 5,000 and 50,000 employees have implemented smart automation.
  • Banking and Finance – This industry also showed a high rate of smart automation adoption, with 84.7% of financial institutions already reporting RPA and AI implementations. Key areas driving smart automation investments in this space include online and mobile banking, predictive analytics, investment services, customer support, and transaction services.
  • Technology – Perhaps somewhat ironically, the technology sector ranks fourth in adoption of intelligent automation, with a rate of 80.9%.
  • Retail – About 60% of retailers have adopted some form of smart automation. Comparatively, the lower adoption rate can be attributed to small and medium retailers who do not have the budget or IT leadership in place to drive automation efforts.
  • Public Sector – Fewer than three in 10 public sector organisations (excluding utilities) have incorporated any kind of RPA or AI into their operations.

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Overcoming Barriers to Widespread Adoption

Despite the known benefits of automation, the report identified four barriers to adoption, though the research showed that there was no single reason for these barriers, that include:

  • Lack of Interest – The most common reason given, with 39.3% of businesses agreeing, was that they were simply not interested in RPA or AI – usually a result of insular, change-averse cultures which first fail to identify new technology opportunities, and later resist the push to adopt and implement them.
  • Works in Progress – One in four organisations said they have not yet adopted RPA or AI-based automation but are in the process of doing so, suggesting adoption rates will continue to climb.
  • Partnership Friction – The third most common reason why organizations have thus far failed to implement smart automation, with 22.4% of responses, is the inability to connect with the right technology partner(s). As described in the report, this may speak to a general inefficiency by RPA and AI-based automation solutions vendors to articulate the value of their solutions and connect with potential customers during the early stages of their search and selection.
  • Budgets – Approximately 21.5% of the survey respondents reported inadequate planning and budgeting as a principal reason why they had not yet implemented RPA or AI-based automation solutions. According to the report, IT leaders are not articulating the value of intelligent automation internally and fail to justify adequate budgets to test and implement the technology, which leads them to fall behind in their RPA initiatives.

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Cause for Continued Optimism

Despite these identified barriers to overcome, 9 in 10 organisations that have not yet implemented RPA and AI-based automation solutions report having sufficient internal technical competencies to do so, showing that technical implementation is no longer a significant hurdle for most organisations.

“Intelligent automation marks a quantum leap for humanity, and like the early stages of the internet, companies that do not adapt to this new reality risk becoming obsolete,” said Daniel Newman, founder and principal analyst at Futurum Research. “The report offers a 30,000-foot view on intelligent automation and how North America is largely embracing this new chapter of the Future of Work.”

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“Today, we’re beginning to see steady adoption of RPA in certain industries, especially in banking and financial services, saving thousands of hours of avoidable rework caused by human errors,” said Kristy Junio, vice president, Global Industry Marketing at Automation Anywhere.

“If we look to the future, in the next 2 to 3 years, I predict a wider swath of industry sectors deploying bots to handle processes that could include accelerating insurance claims faster following accidents, and improving drug research and development to provide treatment to patients sooner. By improving industry processes and giving human workers time back to drive more value, this will accelerate growth and differentiate business strategy,” she concluded.

Read the full report: Report for the State of RPA and Smart Automation

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