Organisations turning to intelligent automation to guard against impact of future pandemics, research finds


One in five Australian organisations admit they were not sufficiently prepared for the impact of COVID-19

Intelligent automation will play a critical role in shaping a new, technologically-enabled, post-pandemic future of work, according to new research by Pegasystems Inc. The global study, conducted by research firm Savanta, surveyed over 3,000 global senior managers and frontline IT staff, of which 210 were from Australia, for their thoughts on technology’s future role in a significantly altered business landscape.

The research found that preparedness for future pandemics or similar disruptions was still the main focus for many, with an overwhelming majority (83%) of Australian respondents identifying it as a high priority, while one-fifth (21%) said they were either totally unprepared or ‘not very prepared’ for the impact of COVID-19. Despite this, of all surveyed countries the study suggests Australian organisations are among the best of countries surveyed when it comes to crisis preparation, with 79 per cent saying they were prepared to deal with the pandemic, only falling behind Hong Kong (85%).  It also found that intelligent automation has emerged as one of the key technologies used to future-proof  businesses against disruptive events.

74 per cent of Australian respondents said the pandemic will cause them to increase their intelligent automation investment. Meanwhile, 72 per cent of Australian survey participants agree that further external shocks that temporarily remove people from the workplace will result in more intelligent automation and artificial intelligence (AI) investment, while 75 per cent also say that unpredictable mass illness and/or self-isolation will drive increased business demand for intelligent automation. Almost half of Australian respondents also said they would increase investment in AI (47%) and customer self-service technologies (46%) to guard against the business impact of future pandemics.

More broadly, the study found that technology will have a profound effect on the way Australians work in the future, with 78 per cent 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 two years. Tellingly, zero respondents feel that technology will 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 in Australia:

  • Technology is now ‘one of us’: 87 per cent of Australian respondents say they would be comfortable working alongside intelligent machines with 76 per cent agreeing that the term ‘workforce’ should include both human employees and intelligent machines. Additionally, three-in-four Australians (75%) say they would be comfortable 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; 61 per cent of respondents said employees are asking for better technology to improve the way they work, while 79 per cent said that increased use of technology is improving employee satisfaction.
  • Low-code is on the rise: 82 per cent of Australian 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 (57%) 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: 77 per cent of Australian respondents say that intelligent automation is helping them to reduce human workloads, with more than one third (34%) saying it has already saved them between one and nine working hours per week over the last two years. Over a third (37%) say they are using the additional time to do more creative activities such as ideation and innovation. Similarly, 39 per cent say they are using the additional time to conduct more analysis and critical thinking tasks.

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