Emergn study highlights importance of human-machine relationship to realize potential of intelligent automation

While most organizations surveyed say automation has affected their business positively, only 13% see intelligent automation as a necessity to gain competitive edge.

LONDON  – September 14, 2021Emergn, a global digital business services firm helping companies deliver valuable products and customer experiences faster, today unveiled a new survey report, Realizing the Human-Machine Relationship. The survey found that while intelligent automation is having a positive impact on businesses, only 13% see it as a necessity to gain a competitive edge and the majority (55%) of the top barriers preventing organizations from seeing the most positive impact from intelligent automation are related to people.

While every company seems to be talking about using intelligent automation to improve the way people work, perceptions of automation in the workplace have ranged from a threat to jobs to the ultimate employee enabler. In order for organizations to realize the full value of intelligent automation for their employees and their business alike, they need the tools, methodologies and skills required to achieve the optimal employee-machine relationship—or risk automation falling short of its promise.

Additional key findings of the report, which is based on a survey of 320 technology leaders from organizations in the pharma &life sciences, insurance and financial services industries across the United States, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, show:

  • Contrary to past perceptions of the technology, organizations and employees have embraced intelligent automation. Ninety percent of respondents say that intelligent automation has met or exceeded their expectations for contributing to their organizations’ goals.
    • Ninety-one percent of respondents say automation has affected their business positively—specifically, 94% say automation has improved efficiency and 90% say it improved customer service and experience.
    • Disarming hype allegations completely, 71% of respondents say the ROI of intelligent automation has been high or very high at their organizations.
  • Despite progress, intelligent automation is not driving a competitive advantage. Only 13% of respondents say they see intelligent automation as a necessity to regain competitiveness in the market, and when asked to rank business problems and opportunities to address with automation, accelerated go-to-market was lowest on the list. While 20% of respondents say employees see intelligent automation as a way to innovate and create new products and services, which can lead to a competitive edge, that’s still only one-fifth of respondents.
    • This hold-up isn’t caused by fear: only 6% of respondents say employees see intelligent automation as a threat to job security and 88% of respondents say intelligent automation has positively impacted employee empowerment. However, a people problem is potentially standing in the way of organizations realizing the promise of intelligent automation. A majority (55%) of the top barriers preventing organizations from seeing the most positive impact from intelligent automation are related to people.
    • Additionally, 18% of respondents say that when intelligent automation has been applied to bringing new products and services to market, it made no impact—reinforcing the idea that the technology is still being used for more rudimentary use cases, such as improving service levels (34%) and freeing up people to do more meaningful work (27%), rather than driving a true competitive edge.
  • Employees need the right skills to advance intelligent automation’s impact. Only 2% of respondents say their team has the right skills to benefit from automation and do not need to expand their skill sets further. Half of all respondents want to add advanced IT skills and programming to their teams to help realize the benefits of automation, and 31% still want to add even basic digital skills to their teams.
  • There is a disconnect between organizations’ expectations for intelligent automation and the true potential of the technology. For instance, even though the technology isn’t being used to drive a competitive edge, 90% of respondents report automation has exceeded or met their expectations—showing organizations may not understand what’s truly possible.

“Intelligent automation has the potential to transform how organizations deliver value and gain a competitive edge in their markets,” said Alex Adamopoulos, Emergn CEO. “However, that’s only possible when organizations and employees have the guidance and skills needed to identify new use cases, feel empowered to leverage automation in their own departments and ultimately strengthen the human-machine relationship to drive the most ROI.”

For more details on these findings, please download the complete survey report here.

About Emergn

Emergn’s mission is to improve the way people and companies work. Forever. The digital business services firm helps some of the world’s most respected businesses—including Fortune 500, FTSE 100 and Global 2000 companies—develop and deliver their most promising ideas into valuable digital products and customer experiences faster. Emergn offers product innovation, enterprise transformation, experience design, product delivery, intelligent automation, and data and analytics capabilities. Through its educational platform VFQ, the industry’s only work-based learning approach to scaled digital transformation, Emergn helps global enterprises and individual learners alike build agility into their way of working and deliver value at pace. Emergn has a strong presence in over a dozen countries, with its U.S. headquarters in Boston and EMEA headquarters in London. For more information, visit Emergn’s website and follow Emergn on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter).

Media contact:

Dentons Global Advisors
James Melville-Ross, Adam Davidson, Nishad Sanzagiri +44 7895 187727 [email protected]