Advanced report shows appetite for AI and automation but lack of clear leadership is holding back adoption across the workforce
One in three (34%) employees believe a robot would be better at decision making than their boss if it had access to the right business intelligence. This is according to the new Advanced Trends Report 2018/19, which also reveals that there is no clear leader driving technology change across UK businesses.
Just 35% of C-Suite/Managing Directors are said to be driving technology change, while 51% believe responsibility falls to IT, followed by finance (19%) and marketing (13%). It perhaps comes as no surprise, then, that 59% of employees think less than half of people in their organisation are ready to adopt new technology to change the way they work.
The annual survey is the third to be commissioned by British software and services company Advanced , with over 1,000 professionals in UK organisations having their say on how British businesses are faring in the digital era. Last year’s report found that 31% of employees had no confidence in the leadership of their company to create and run a modern digital infrastructure, so these latest findings will come as a further blow to bosses.
“Disruptive technology is encouraging us to look afresh at all aspects of business,” says Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced. “While robots are unlikely to take on the job of decision maker – the reality is that they are simply not yet suited to such complex tasks and will instead work side-by-side with humans – our findings suggest that employees are dissatisfied with their current leadership, want to get rid of arbitrary decision making and are starting to challenge the norms. Leaders need to step up, to provide the clear direction that people need and take charge of the intense technology change happening as a result of the digital era.”
Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they would be happy to work alongside robotic technology if it meant less manual processes – most likely because automation acts as a workforce multiplier, increasing output while reducing time wasted on repetitive and low-skilled duties. The majority (72%) have already adopted technology to automate tasks and processes, albeit many of these are likely using simple commands to handle defined actions.
What’s certain is that there is appetite among employees for innovative technology, with the right leadership, to play a greater part in augmenting their roles. The report reveals that 35% want to see Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their daily working lives – on a par with Cloud services – while 32% want to see Business Intelligence (BI), followed by Predictive Analytics (31%), the Internet of Things (IoT) (26%), chatbots (19%) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) (18%).
The fact that many professionals would embrace disruptive technologies in their daily working life is encouraging, and is a possible reflection on the changing dynamics of the workforce with Generation Z making up a larger part. 58% of Generation Z respondents, those born after the mid-1990s, want to see spending on new technology a priority over the coming year, and 46% want to see AI in their daily working lives.
This will drive productivity, helping employees – and their bosses – win back critical thinking time. For example, 42% of all respondents said they’d spend an extra 60 minutes a day, if they had it available, on planning and forecasting. But, as the research highlights, there must be an openness to adopt change from every individual in the workforce if any technology innovation is to succeed in delivering the anticipated business benefits.
Gordon adds: “Bosses therefore need to decide who in the business is best placed to drive a change in culture, and support all employees in any technology transition. This means helping staff understand how technology will enable them to focus on higher value roles – be it through reskilling and training – and how AI and RPA will positively impact their productivity and job satisfaction”.
“Ultimately, technology fundamentally can change the make up of the workforce, which is why creating an open and collaborative culture is so critical. New candidates in entry-level roles working on the ground are likely to be more digitally-savvy so would make great ambassadors to drive change and ensure innovation happens. As a result, businesses will see more people embracing digital transformation and placing confidence in their leadership to take them forward.”
The Advanced Trends Survey was carried out online in September 2018. The full Advanced Trends Report 2018 can be found here.