Automation is the use of artificial systems. These are systems that follow decisions based on a process that is predetermined. For many years, companies have been adapting technologies (hardware and software) to automate or technologically support activities. I have studied in the course of my research. I would like to present two of them today in order to give an impression on automation. Study 1 examines the impact of automation on business success, and study 2 deals with the change in occupational profiles due to progressive automation.

Study 1: CRISP 2018

In the first study, the impact of automation on the company’s success was measured through interviews in more than 150 companies across all industries (Crisp 2018). According to the company, the majority of companies are currently still at the beginning of process automation. The results of the study are:

  • In our company, the IT and business processes are supported digitally, but still largely controlled and delivered manually (25%),
  • in our company, first or selected IT and business processes are automatically controlled (47%),
  • in our company, a large part of the IT and business processes is automatically supported or controlled (21%) And
  • in our company, almost all IT and business processes are fully or highly automated (7%).

The main objectives of automation are to reduce costs, increase scalability and reduce staffing. Nevertheless, two thirds of respondents believe that personnel costs will not change significantly as a result of the recruitment of specialists for automation.

In order to achieve automation in the company, companies primarily use robots, artificial intelligence and cloud applications, most of which are still in planning and not in productive use (see figure).

Current technologies used for automation (own illustration according to Crisp 2018)

Study 2: OECD 2019

Another study was carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2019). It examines the change in work due to the advancing automation in companies. Key findings of the study (OECD 2019) are:

  • It is estimated that 14% of current jobs could disappear in the next 15-20 years due to automation.
  • A further 32% is expected to change radically, as individual areas of activity could be automated.

The focus of the study is on securing jobs in the face of increasing automation. According to the study, there are major risks to job losses in manufacturing, many service sectors, health, education and the public sector. Specialists without sufficient computer skills are therefore particularly affected, which is particularly true for older employees. According to the study, 28 people over the age of 65 per 100 people of working age in 2015. This number is expected to double by 2050 (Crisp 2019).

According to the study, a decisive factor is the targeted training of skilled workers, especially in the low-skilled sector and in the upper age. It should be noted that the training activities of enterprises are often not geared towards this target group. The study criticises the fact that current trends tend to indicate investment in higher-skilled employees, as this is expected to lead to a higher return. According to the study, the continuing training rate of low-skilled workers is 40 percentage points lower than for highly qualified employees.

Conclusion

The main objectives of automation are to reduce costs, increase scalability and reduce staffing. This will affect employees, especially in the low-skilled sector. This can be prevented by targeted training. Many companies also assume that automation will bring significantly higher costs in the first few years.

Sources

CRISP Cloudflight. (2018). Cloud Automation Excellence. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://de.cloudflight.io/reports/cloud-automation-excellence-mit-automation-zu-skalierbaren-digitalen-geschaftsmodellen-25816/

Oecd. (2019). OECD Employment Outlook 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from http://www.oecd.org/employment/Employment-Outlook-2019-Highlight-DE.pdf

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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