Robotics Drives Automation

Automation is always a moving target. In the 1980s, process improvements centered on e-mail, spreadsheets and word processing. By the mid ’90s, the web and enterprise software — including ERP systems — had moved into the mainstream. Then in the 2000s came mobility and the cloud. Suffice it to say: The business world has witnessed spectacular gains in efficiency.

Now, the next phase of digital automation is about to take shape. It centers on robotics. Although various machines and devices have been used in factories, warehouses and even hospitals over the last few decades, radical advances in the technology are about to unleash massive societal change.

A new study of 500 business and IT decision makers from the U.S. and UK, conducted by Redwood Software and Sapio Research, found that these leaders are aware of the power of the technology — and how it can transform their business. Overall, 83 percent of the respondents said that they consider robotic automation to be “essential” or “very important” for achieving digital transformation.

In addition, 90 percent of respondents said they felt that their senior management recognized the opportunity that robotics presents.

Among the top benefits cited: the ability to tackle projects and tasks more quickly and reduce manual effort. The top concerns: security and costs.

On average, respondents predicted that 59 percent of current business processes could be automated within the next five years. In addition, 70 percent said that robotics has become more of a priority in the last 12 months. Not surprisingly, these IT decision makers see automation as being driven by their IT department — mainly from the CIO or CTO. Only 26 percent said that they saw automation originating from other personnel.

“The majority of the repetitive tasks that make up the back office could soon be performed by software robots. That means less mundane work, more strategic thinking and ever greater prominence for the IT department.” noted Dennis Walsh, president of Americas and Asia-Pacific for Redwood Software, a producer of robotics systems.

Interestingly, 32 percent of US respondents said that robotics was a “top priority,” compared to 19 percent in the UK. In addition, 78 percent of U.S. respondents said it had become “more of a priority” in the last 12 months, compared with 62 percent in the UK.

The upshot? As CIOs and other C-level executives look to transform a business into a truly digital enterprise, the IT department must provide insight, clarity and guidance into how to adopt robotics and automation.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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