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AI and Automation: 6 Facts about the Future of Work

Dan O'Keefe, Appian
May 24, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation stand at the vanguard of the future of work. While it’s impossible to predict with certainty how things will change, a few current trends and stats provide a good sense of where the future of AI and automation will take us. As evidenced by the recent interest in generative AI, companies want to experiment with how to reap deep benefits from automation technology. Consider these six facts about the roles that AI and automation will play in the next chapter of work.

1. Productivity gains will continue with automation.

Enterprises have a significant opportunity ahead to automate tasks and see strong gains in efficiency and productivity. With the right technology in place, many routine tasks can be handed off to digital workers using robotic process automation (RPA) or artificial intelligence, freeing up employees to do higher-value work that requires human judgment. This applies to a variety of jobs, from clerical workers to customer service reps to billing specialists. The manufacturing industry has long been a proponent of automation, reaping significant gains from the introduction of industrial robots to factory floors. Plus, intelligent automation, which refers to the combination of AI and robotic process automation, makes automation even more powerful because companies can use the two tools in tandem to enhance operational efficiency.

To drive significant business value, companies can go one step further and use a platform for process automation, also called hyperautomation, which unifies multiple technologies to help enterprises automate complex, end-to-end business processes. Examples include managing the customer lifecycle in banking, optimizing supply chain operations, or speeding up insurance underwriting.

[ Learn how to successfully implement end-to-end process automation strategies. Get the Process Automation Guide. ]

2. Businesses will either use AI or fall behind.

It’s a critical time to prioritize AI and automation. According to an industry survey, 44% of businesses plan to invest in artificial intelligence in 2023—and these companies will gain a clear competitive advantage over those that drag their feet. AI can help companies automate complex tasks across a variety of use cases, from improving customer experience to simplifying the billing and invoicing process with intelligent document processing. Organizations should make it a priority to look for ways to integrate AI and automation technology into their existing processes and workflows.

3. ChatGPT broke adoption records.

Here’s one more data point about the importance of AI: ChatGPT set a speed record for adoption upon its release, reaching 100 million users in only two months. This shows that people don’t just have an appetite for AI—they’re positively voracious. It’s one example of how companies and employees will continue using AI as part of their workflows—from drafting emails to generating ideas to building websites.

4. AI and automation will positively impact the economy.

Goldman Sachs economists predict that 18% of work around the world could be automated in some fashion, and this could lead to a 7% GDP increase across the globe—something that  would be a strong boon for economic growth.

While some may fear automation’s effect on jobs, it’s important to realize that the 18% of work that is expected to be automated doesn’t necessarily mean job losses. The rote, repetitive tasks in a job function can be offloaded to AI, while humans still remain in the role doing higher value, strategic work. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts that AI will lead to job creation, with 97 million new jobs created globally by 2025.

5. Not all AI use cases are obvious.

Much of the talk around AI/ML use cases centers around boosts in efficiency and productivity or enhanced decision-making skills. However, these are not the only traditional business and organizational metrics for which AI has been applied. With the rise of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) efforts, AI has been put to good use in helping companies reach their sustainability goals for both regulatory reasons and good corporate citizenship.

6. Data privacy remains a major concern.

Companies must continue to scrutinize both AI usage and the vendors with which they do business, with an eye to improving data privacy. Data leaks have already occurred from employees entering confidential information into ChatGPT (note: OpenAI has always maintained that you should not enter sensitive data into ChatGPT). 

It’s important that companies take a close look at the usage of AI tools in their company and ensure clear governance is in place. Additionally, choosing a vendor that has strong security and data privacy bona fides should go a long way in protecting sensitive and proprietary data. 

Take a platform approach to process automation.

The influence of AI and automation will be significant, as these automation technologies transform the way we work and create remarkable efficiency and productivity gains. But implementing them as part of a strong, holistic automation strategy requires taking a platform approach. 

Not only do you want multiple automation tools at your disposal, like AI and machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), and API connectors, you also need an orchestration layer that smoothly passes work between humans and bots and a data fabric that connects the data from all of your various systems using a virtualized data layer.

A modern platform for process automation, also called hyperautomation, unifies all of those technologies and allows you to automate complex, end-to-end business processes. 

Learn more about how to succeed with hyperautomation: Read the Gartner® Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Hyperautomation Report.