Automation push "key to business recovery" post-coronavirus

Forrester encourages businesses to automate to survive the impending recession

When businesses embark on their recovery from the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19, they should lean on technologies such as industrial robots and robotic process automation (RPA)

Ramping up investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will naturally follow any global recession sparked by the pandemic, according to a report by the analyst house Forrester, given the huge cost of keeping people in work. 

It’s crucial, therefore, that organisations bear in mind the human cost of these crucial technological investments, and seek to mitigate the negative effects on the workforce.

This will be particularly challenging with automation now an imperative as far as the boardroom is concerned, with CEOs demanding their business leaders strategically focus on risk mitigation and recovery. 

“As companies have recovered their revenues and reopened their supply chains, they have increasingly invested not on rehiring the workforce but on automation and on reducing their dependence on manpower,” said principal analyst with Forrester and author of the report, Leslie Joseph.

“We do not expect the aftermath of this recession to be different. What’s changed, however, is the enterprise coverage and strategic value of automation technologies.”

Global shocks are often followed by jobless recoveries, based on historical data, with unemployment surging and generally taking many months to recover to normal levels. In many cases, such changes are permanent, with the UK, for example, shedding 25% of supermarket assistant jobs due to automation between 2011 and 2017 following the global financial crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis has added urgency to the trend of investing in technologies that fuel a vision for ‘the future of work’, Joseph added, with automation now seen as a tool for risk mitigation and business resiliency. 

Job polarisation will accelerate as a result, however, with those at the highest risk of being lost to automation being routine roles with a cognitive aspect, including sales, administration and support roles.

Increased spending on research and development, as well as the implementation of technology such as drone-based delivery and AI-controlled service robots, will put yet further pressure on the recovery of ‘manual’ jobs. 

Related Resource

Building a strong foundation for AI

How a Data-Train-Inference AI model positions your enterprise for long-term success

Download now

Forrester has recommended that businesses do all they can to survive the economic storm. The measures include improving crisis response protocols, working with suppliers and partners to manage the business impact, explore new sales channels and embrace digital intelligence channels. 

Organisations must also respect and retest their older automation plans, which have most likely changed as a result of the pandemic. Localised investments in technologies like chatbots or RPA should be assessed, with evaluations made based on the broader impact of revenue, cost and risk in these changed circumstances.

Crucially, however, to avoid negative effects on businesses as well as the workforce, companies should avoid automating for its own sake and instead do so in a measured way bearing “empathy” in mind.

Featured Resources

Choosing a collaboration platform

Eight questions every IT leader should ask

Download now

Performance benchmark: PostgreSQL/ MongoDB

Helping developers choose a database

Download now

Customer service vs. customer experience

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Download now

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security

A complete guide to penetration testing

Download now

Recommended

Google Cloud unveils AI contact center focused on vaccine equity
artificial intelligence (AI)

Google Cloud unveils AI contact center focused on vaccine equity

16 Apr 2021
Assessing your cloud strategy after COVID
cloud computing

Assessing your cloud strategy after COVID

16 Apr 2021
Neo digital transformation
digital transformation

Neo digital transformation

9 Apr 2021
Onboarding during the pandemic and beyond
recruitment

Onboarding during the pandemic and beyond

25 Mar 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency
digital currency

UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency

19 Apr 2021