Procurement · 28 June 2017

Founders reveal which automated business tasks they want within three years

Automation
Founders expected automated business tasks would complete 40 per cent of daily operations

A new study has uncovered which daily business tasks owners expected to see automated within the next three to five years.

The survey, conducted by Opinium for technology consultant Capgemini, asked over 1,000 UK company founders and office workers what kind of impact new technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, could have on daily business operations.

When asked how their workplace could look in the coming years, the average business owner believed as many as 40 per cent of tasks would become automated.

By far the area founders most expected innovation was invoicing, with 41 per cent hoping for greater assistance in payments.

Managing expense claims, reporting and daily admin polled evenly, at 28 per cent, demonstrating where Britain’s self-employed workforce believed processes could be streamlined.

Meanwhile, employees were also optimistic regarding the potential of technological innovation in the workplace.

Over a fifth of office workers believed technology had already improved the accuracy of their own work, while 27 per cent said it gave them more time to focus on higher value tasks.

Finance workers were found to be particularly enthusiastic around technological advancement. Some 85 per cent regularly considered how automated business tasks would support their role – almost double that of employees in other departments.

In total, just one in ten business owners and employees felt automation would have a negative impact on the way they worked.

Commenting on today’s attitudes towards automated business tasks, Lee Beardmore, chief technology officer at Capgemini, said technology advancement represented “an opportunity for growth for businesses in every industry sector.”

“It’s really heartening to see the optimism for automation technologies among the UK’s office workers. At present our survey estimates that around 13 per cent of businesses in the UK are benefiting from automation, but there’s still a lot that haven’t seen anything yet.

“We certainly expect this figure to rise in the near future as more and more businesses realise the transformational power of technologies such as AI, robotics and automation,” he said.

However, infrastructure, cyber security and awareness were shown by the study to be some of the main barriers to bringing technology into a business.

Beardmore added: I would urge all businesses to not only start thinking about the potential value of automation technologies, but to also start looking at the skills and expertise they need within their organisation for future implementation, to stay competitive in the years to come

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of industry body techUK also welcomed the findings as a “useful reminder of the positive outcomes” automated business tasks can bring to a small company.

“Whilst it is clear that new technologies will have a transformational impact on many jobs, it is by no means inevitable that machines will simply be used to displace humans,” Walker said.

“Dynamic economies that harness innovation to drive productivity and economic growth remain the best generators of rewarding and meaningful employment.”

Staff security

Despite the clear benefits of automated business tasks to a small company, a degree of sensitivity to staff security could be welcomed.

A separate study by job site Indeed found that automation ranked higher than outsourcing, immigration and Brexit as a threat to their job security.

Commenting on the findings, Mariano Mamertino, an economist at Indeed, conceded job cutting was an inevitable trade-off for technological advancement.

“Disappearing jobs can be a frightening concept and it’s impossible to know exactly which jobs are ‘safe’,” he added.

Advising employers, Mamertino emphasised the importance of developing “transferable, non-routine skills” within their workforce that could be applied across varying sectors.

Business Advice visited Paris’ Viva Tech 2017 to find out more about today’s technology landscape

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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