The rise and rise of the robots

Large swaths of businesses have used the Covid-19 pandemic to bring in the robots. New research from Deloitte on robotic and intelligent automation found two-thirds (68%) of business leaders worldwide used automation to respond to the impact of the pandemic.

The Big 4 firm’s survey of 441 executives from 29 countries shows how the lockdown has forced many organisations to rethink how work is done. Around three in four (73%) of organisations worldwide are now using automation technologies – such as robotics, machine learning and natural language processing – up from 58% in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of organisations deploying automation ‘at scale’ has tripled in the space of two years. Some 13% of leaders say their organisation has implemented over 50 automations, up from 8% in 2019 and four per cent in 2018.

Justin Watson, partner and leader of Deloitte’s robotic and cognitive automation practice, said: “Automation has been a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic – allowing for rapid increases in processing capacity, new processes to support the response, increasing productivity and accuracy, whilst also improving the experience of customers and employees. As organisations scrambled to support home working en-masse and provide Covid-secure work sites, automation took the strain to ensure business continuity. For instance, by triaging requests to allow contact centre agents to manage the higher number of calls and emails, or accelerating the validation of loans from financial institutions. In the months ahead, investment in automation technologies will continue to flow with the direct aim of bolstering organisational resilience.”