Forrester Research: The Global Pandemic Will Alter and Accelerate Automation Plans

covid crisis accelerate enterprise automation forrester research 2020

Guy Kirkwood is chief evangelist at UiPath.

As the world moves into the next phase of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis—with fewer stay-at-home orders, industries reopening, and governments attempting to facilitate a return to 'normal'—businesses are evaluating their current situations with an eye to the future and what a post-pandemic world might look like.

Forrester Research recently released two different reports that provide much needed insight into that very topic and draw a picture of the role automation will play in aiding both recovery and post-COVID-19 scaling.

The COVID-19 crisis will accelerate enterprise automation plans

In their report The COVID-19 Crisis Will Accelerate Enterprise Automation Plans, Forrester Research states that one of the “lasting legacies [of the pandemic] will be a renewed focus on automation.”

“Automation has been a major force reshaping work since long before the pandemic; now, it's taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk and resiliency,” the report states.

The pandemic has already changed the way we work—increasing the number of remote workers, creating shifts in global supply chains, and expanding the canvas of business risk planning. Some of those changes will persist through the recovery and beyond, according to Forrester. While the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a unique global event, the report notes that the recovery will be similar to recent recessions in that it will be a jobless recovery that will include an increase in automation investments.

According to the report: “Most firms currently have survival and sustenance on their mind. However, as the crisis recedes, expect the pattern of investments along the recovery path to follow past trends. Business and technology leaders will continue to invest in emerging intelligent automation technologies to increase the resiliency and adaptiveness of the business.”

In this recovery, automation will be a boardroom imperative, the report states. Automation will handle human-dependent processes that your newly remote workers may not be able to perform. It will help reduce risk in case of future crises, as well as help predict risk in combination with artificial intelligence tools. And it will help you build adaptiveness into your recovery plan.

The report also, and maybe most importantly, urges automating with empathy. The recovery from this crisis will be unequal. The human impact will continue for months and even years.

“Avoid the temptation to automate roughshod; instead, approach automation with empathy and trust and invest in increasing your firm's Robotics Quotient,” the report states.

Report author and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research Leslie Joseph will be joined us as a guest speaker for a recent webinar to discuss the report’s findings. The session featured insights from UiPath leaders on how the pandemic has already reshaped the way we work across regions and how automation will help businesses scale in the post-COVID-19 environment. If you missed the live webinar you can still access the recording:

Registering ensures that you will receive a full session recording after the live webinar, so we urge you to register even if the session time doesn’t work with your schedule!

Your automation psychology and roadmap just shifted gears

While investments increase and plans accelerate it will be crucial to adjust your automation roadmap to adapt to the current crisis. This is one of the points outlined in the recently released Forrester report, Your Automation Psychology And Roadmap Just Shifted Gears.

According to the report: “COVID-19 is a human tragedy that we must turn into an opportunity for change.... Enterprises have a chance to develop new ways of working, invent new business models, and wring inefficiency from tired business processes. This crisis will divide companies into those that grasp the need for digital transformation and those that don’t. Your automation priorities need to change.”

The report recommends accelerating your automation maturity, automation that expands business with fewer employees, and projects that focus on resilience or new ways of working, among other things.

“What enterprises do now will remain in place, scale, and bring value long into the future,” the report states.

The report also outlines a persona-based approach to defining your post-pandemic normal, focusing on the skills and activities that define an employee’s work as a better way to allocate resources and drive new workstreams and patterns.

According to the report: “Enterprises that treat employees as one large group, sort them into exempt or nonexempt slots, or tie them to job categories more aligned to organizational needs will be too slow to target automation investments or develop new work policies.”

But being aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your automation plans isn’t enough. You also need to be aware of the shift that’s taken place in the psychology of automation. The report states: “There’s been justifiable fear associated with automation: concern about job loss, security, training needs, and coding standards. Before the pandemic, the goal was to get to ’perfect’ (e.g., to understand all exceptions, build the right operating models, and control frameworks). Now, organizations will slam projects through with fewer approvals and faster documentation.”

According to the report, organizations “need to focus on their robotics quotient (RQ) and the four competency areas of RPA [Robotic Process Automation] maturity—process, people, governance, and technology”—in order to see the true value of automation in a post-pandemic world.

Join us for a fireside chat with our guest speaker, Craig Le Clair, author of the report and vice president, principal analyst, at Forrester on June 15, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. EDT / 4:00 p.m. BST to hear more about how companies can leverage automation in the coming days and weeks to drive outcomes fast. Audience Q&A is highly encouraged, so bring your questions.

guy kirkwood uipath
Guy Kirkwood

(Previously) Chief Evangelist, UiPath

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