Are companies upgrading their technologies for intelligent automation fast enough to meet goals for increased productivity and improved strategizing?
Probably not, according to a new report on the technology and its impact by KPMG and HFS Research. The hurdles to moving IA forward within organizations are outlined in the report: uncertainty about the financial investment needed, lack or organizational clarity and accountability, and not enough scale yet.
IA, not to be confused with artificial intelligence, is the catch-all phrase for AI, advanced analytics, and robotics processing automation. Whew!
The KPMG survey of nearly 600 executives across 13 countries found that investment in IA tech is strong. More than half of companies confirm investments of more than $10 million. But investments are imbalanced across functions. Finance and accounting are seeing the biggest investments.
Overall, only 17 percent of companies surveyed have scaled up or industrialized IA technologies. Smart analytics was cited as the top most scaled technology, while robotics processing automation was the least scaled. Surprisingly, the technology that organizations are experimenting with or piloting the most is AI (36 percent), which is probably the most difficult to integrate.
Those companies that are successfully scaling up IA initiatives are seeing the results of their efforts in strong financial performance. About two-thirds of the top performing companies surveyed will be scaled by 2019, but another 59 percent of poorly performing companies need another two to five years to achieve scale in intelligent automation.
“Investment in and adoption of IA technologies are occurring at a rapid pace, but many organizations are struggling to demonstrate significant impact,” said Cliff Justice, Principal and Head of Intelligent Automation at KPMG in the US. “Without a holistic digital transformation strategy that underpins IA investments across an entire organization, these projects are stunted in pilot mode and fail to deliver the intended results. Yet, when implemented with a clear vision and integrated approach, IA is propelling businesses, not only with a competitive business edge but financial success.”
In an interesting finding, business executives are optimistic about the impact IA will have on jobs — approximately one-half of respondents surveyed say automation will impact fewer than 20 percent of their staff. But KPMG experts believe these executives are overly optimistic.
“To realize the full potential of IA beyond cost savings, organizations must think beyond technological investments and incorporate change management at every step of the way,” says Justice. “Even the most basic of robotic process automation technologies will impact the future of work. Broad-ranging transformation strategies are critical to future-proofing companies’ most valuable resource: their workforce.”