The onset of COVID-19 compelled societal and technological shifts worldwide. Even before the pandemic, technology had played a critical role in engaging and providing flexibility. However, the spread of the pandemic and the consequential lockdown accelerated these adoptions immensely. While in a spurt of a moment, millions were sent to work from home, creating an immediate challenge for many businesses, the less visible and more challenging transformation that occurred was the sudden requirement to digitise processes, including previously paper-based transactions, in-person meetings, business travel, and other normal day-to-day operations.
It compelled the world to look into creative digital solutions for seamless remote operations on customer-facing and behind-the-scenes roles. This, in turn, helped to drive a digital transformation that accelerated automation. At this juncture, with digital innovation and collaboration being the critical aspect of our lives, it is safe to state that the pandemic outbreak has accelerated automation.
Industry 4.0 & Process Automation
Unexpected restraints on travel, physical meetings, and shifts in consumer behaviour patterns after the virus outbreak have forced businesses and customers to transform how they operate. As the requirement for digital business accelerated in the pandemic’s aftermath, automation became the enabler for thriving. Companies started perceiving it as a solution for process bottlenecks and a key to better decision-making. To meet business demands, IT teams automated as many tasks and processes. Recently a study conducted by Ernst & Young revealed that 41% of businesses are investing in accelerating their automation. Industries have seen an unmistakable acceleration in digital transformation activity, and many companies have realised the value of digital and Industry 4.0 technologies. For instance, companies that leverage IoT technologies to monitor their production experienced lesser interruptions during the lockdowns remotely.
However, there’s more to automation — it is at the core of any enterprise’s digital efforts and has a substantial impact on the future of work — mainly as operational synergies are achieved through human-machine augmentation.
Early data suggests that a COVID-19-induced surge in automation may outlast the virus, in line with the outcome during and beyond past economic downturns, including the Great Recession. As the rise in automation continues in the longer term, businesses should seek to balance optimising technology-driven cost savings.
According to research conducted by SnapLogic, 78% of companies plan to increase their spending on automation initiatives in the coming 12 months. It further reveals that the increased spending comes after a year in which 48% of IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) already accelerated their automation projects due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Automation Disrupting Investment
The pandemic has left its mark on investment as well. With the pandemic outbreak, financial institutes automated their processes by implementing bots—or sets of smaller programs with specific functions like scanning documents, identifying inconsistencies in numbers or formatting, and automatically correcting them, accelerating the approval process and reducing human errors.
Today, automation is also being used to find irregularities that indicate fraud, recommend specific investment decisions based on an investor’s previous activity, and assess potential borrowers’ creditworthiness. A study conducted by Accenture reported that the push to integrate multiple technologies continues and could potentially boost corporate profitability rates by 38% by 2035.
For investor behaviour analysis, AI technology has been implemented beyond mere personalisation to forecast how the said behaviour will influence decision-making. This brings to light invaluable information like, for instance, the actionable segmentation of customers into different groups based on their spending and saving patterns. In addition, digital assistant providers are enabling guided conversations that simulate the why and how questions that a financial advisor is adept at asking and answering.
The pandemic has turned digitisation from a good-to-have to a must-have factor, compelling the world to adapt and modernise quickly. While digitisation might be a daunting task, the COVD-19 outbreak has made it apparent that to flourish in the upcoming days, recognising the digital transformation opportunities and getting those initiatives initiated will be the key to success.