The research found that preparedness for future pandemics or similar disruptions was still the main focus for many, with an overwhelming majority (84%) of respondents identifying it as a high priority – an unsurprising figure when you consider that nearly one in three (31%) said they were either totally unprepared or ‘not very prepared’ for the impact of COVID-19. It also found that intelligent automation has emerged as one of the key technologies used to future-proof businesses against disruptive events.
Seventy-six percent of respondents said the pandemic will cause them to increase their intelligent automation investment. Meanwhile, 74% of survey participants agree that further external shocks that temporarily remove people from the workplace will result in more intelligent automation and artificial intelligence investment, while 76% also say that unpredictable mass illness and/or self-isolation will drive increased business demand for intelligent automation. Over half (51%) of respondents also said they would increase investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud solutions to guard against the business impact of future pandemics.
More broadly, the study found that technology will have a profound effect on the way we work in the future, with 86% of respondents expecting technology to either ‘significantly change’ or produce ‘quite a lot of change’ in the way people in their organisation work over the next five years. Tellingly, 0% of respondents said that technology would drive no change over that period.
Additional findings highlight how other types of technology could also profoundly change the way we work, our job satisfaction, and also who – or what – we work with:
- Technology is now ‘one of us’: 84% of respondents say they would be comfortable working alongside intelligent machines with 73% agreeing that the term ‘workforce’ should include both human employees and intelligent machines. Sixty-one percent say they would even be happy being managed by an intelligent machine. Employees are also playing a leading role in driving the use of technology as a force for change within businesses. Sixty-six percent of respondents said employees are asking for better technology to improve the way they work, while 76% agreed that increased use of technology is improving employee satisfaction.
- Low-code is on the rise: 82% of respondents say IT should provide platforms and systems that allow employees to build and implement their own technology solutions. Meanwhile, more than half of respondents (55%) say that either ‘everyone’ or ‘the majority’ of the workforce within their industry will need low-code skills in the next five years.
- Intelligent automation can save time and improve creativity: Eighty per cent say that intelligent automation is helping them to reduce human workloads, with more than one third (36%) saying it has already saved them between one and nine working hours per week over the last two years. Almost half (47%) say they are using the additional time to do more creative activities such as ideation and innovation. Forty-four per cent say they are using the additional time to conduct more analysis and critical thinking tasks.