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

Study 1: CRISP 2018

In the first study, the influence of automation on corporate success was assessed on the basis of interviews in over 150 companies from all industries (Crisp 2018). According to their own information, the majority of companies are currently still at the beginning of the automation of processes. The results of the study are:

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

The main goals of automation are lowering costs, increasing scalability and reducing staff. Nevertheless, two thirds of those surveyed assume that personnel costs will not change significantly as a result of hiring new specialists for automation.

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

Current technologies that are used for automation (own illustration based on Crisp 2018)

Study 2: OECD 2019

Another study was carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD (2019). It examines the change in work due to increasing automation in companies. The key messages of the study (OECD 2019) are:

  • It is estimated that automation could cause 14% of current jobs to disappear in the next 15-20 years.
  • Another 32% are likely 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 of job loss in manufacturing, in many service industries as well as in health, education and the public sector. Accordingly, skilled workers without adequate computer skills are particularly affected, which is said to be particularly true of older employees. According to the study, there were 28 people over 65 years of age for every 100 people of working age. This number is expected to double by 2050 (Crisp 2019).

According to the study, a decisive factor is the targeted further training of skilled workers, especially in the low-skilled and elderly. It should be noted that companies’ further training measures are often not geared towards this target group. The study criticizes the fact that current trends tend to point towards investments in highly qualified employees, as this is expected to result in higher returns. According to the study, the rate of further training for low-skilled employees is 40 percentage points lower than for highly qualified employees.

Conclusion

The main goals of automation are lowering costs, increasing scalability and reducing staff. This will particularly affect employees in the low-skilled area. This can be prevented through targeted training. Many companies also assume that automation will result in significantly higher costs in the first few years.

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CRISP Cloudflight. (2018). Cloud Automation Excellence. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://de.cloudflight.io/reports/cloud-automation-excellence-with-automation-zu-scalable-digital-business-models-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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Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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