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Enterprise Automation Surges During COVID-19 Crisis as Industries Prepare for Jobless Recoveries

Posted by on August 13, 2020

Forrester Automation Framework
Automation reshaped global industries for months, and even years, before COVID-19 became a worldwide crisis, helping spur digital transformation. Yet as your enterprise continues to adjust and recover, new investment in emerging intelligent automation technologies is being reviewed with fresh urgency. 

Automation offers resiliency and adaptiveness, factors that are forcing application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals like yourself to rethink best practices. This shift to automate is occurring regardless if industries lend themselves to automation. From food services and agriculture to education and management, we believe this renewed focus will continue to drive organizations that responded to recent recessions with jobless recoveries.

The pandemic’s global impact is ongoing, so it is impossible to predict the total financial burden. But Forrester analysts estimate it will be extensive. That’s why organizations are preparing to return to a new normal whenever COVID-19’s health and financial crises begin to subside.

Meanwhile, some sectors are more vulnerable than others. Forrester expects the informal economy to suffer massive losses, while the gig economy will lead to labor opportunities in the unorganized sector. 

Why Automation Now?

Automation allows your organization to fill gaps left by the loss of employees. In the United States, for example, millions of jobs were interrupted by COVID-19. 

Less than 30 percent of Americans work from home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is expected to increase in the coming years as enterprises implement automation that alters job responsibilities. In an effort to follow current social distancing guidelines, organizations like yours are embracing digital tools to engage with employees, from communication tools to virtual events. 

Also, plan to create supply chains closer to key markets. We expect this to be a popular initiative, now that Forrester has analyzed how the early stages of the pandemic impacted China. In 2017, this country was responsible for nearly 25 percent of the world’s industrial value. 

Forrester analysts consider COVID-19 a gray swan: “... unpredictable, but highly probable and with a high global impact.” Historically, some organizations have not factored natural events into strategic risk planning. But the current crisis has changed the way thought leaders analyze potential events. Your organization should plan accordingly.

Automations vs. Future Recessions

For all the ROI automation offers, there is one downside. After analyzing recent recessions, Forrester analysts believe future automations will lead to longer unemployment rolls. In many cases, jobs will be permanently discontinued. 

An example: Recessions that occurred between 1970-82 led to high unemployment numbers for two to six months. By the time recessions between 1991-2009 occurred, the same unemployment recovery lasted 17-23 months. 

Keys to Automation Recovery

Survival and sustenance. Both are on the minds of technology leaders like you as you look toward the future of work. Forrester analyzed past trends to create this list of adaptive methods for COVID-19. 

  • If your organization is operational during the pandemic, it must utilize digital tools to continue to safely engage with consumers and employees, from robotic process automation (RPA) to chatbots. This way, you can ensure the employee and customer experience remains positive. 
  • Your organization is advised to revisit pre-pandemic automation plans and adjust initiatives as needed to avoid sprawl within your automation portfolio. 
  • Recovery plans are incomplete without built-in adaptiveness. Pent-up demand is likely to return, and investments in automation, as well as other tech, will allow organizations to be better prepared.
  • Automation is not the sole solution for your organization’s future success. After all, humans are vital to automated environments. They are relied on to develop, train, and iterate machine learning models. And their feedback is vital to automation success.   
  • Human labor will serve as a burstable commodity for organizations that enjoy advanced automation maturity. 

Next Steps: Download The Forrester Report

Prepare for the future by moving toward automation now. Let Forrester research, and proven, data-driven analysis, present the smart path to navigate COVID-19’s impact and pending recessions. Your organization is counting on this.  

Take the next step and download the Forrester report: “The COVID-19 Crisis Will Accelerate Enterprise Automation Plans.” 

Download the Forrester Report