In 2009 less than 10% of the workforce ever worked remotely. Now, 70% of global employees work remotely at least once a week. Ten years ago, employee interaction was largely confined to physical office spaces. Today, colleagues use tools like Slack and OneDrive to seamlessly collaborate in real time across continents.
Cloud-driven tools empowered these changes. But if the 2010s were largely defined by the transformative business impact of the cloud, the new decade is introducing a new agent of workplace change.
The 2020s will be the decade of process automation
Process automation isn’t a new concept. We’re already witnessing how automation is evolving process management and how employees are responding to its implementation. As Nintex learned in a 2019 cross-generational study of U.S. workers, more than three-quarters of companies are currently using automation tools to a significant or very significant extent. And on the employee side, the vast majority of workers appreciate automation’s transformative benefits, though they also fear its potential impact on their job security.
But over the next ten years, process automation will move to the forefront of enterprise decision making. Throughout the 2010s, the idea of a cloud strategy shifted from optional to highly advisable to essential. Today, cloud strategy is ubiquitous, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small nonprofit.
Process automation will follow this same trajectory. We believe process automation will become further embedded in business operations and across industries to significantly improve the way we work around the world.
Approaching the process automation decade
In fact, we’re already seeing process automation become more mainstream, and we can expect this momentum to continue. Along with it, sophistication will grow, increasing potential applications of AI and automation-driven tools. As automation capabilities expand, they’ll evolve human roles and responsibilities.
But I don’t expect automation to have the same impact everywhere. Instead, I think the impact of automation will vary significantly based on industry, company size, and enterprise department. It won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach with process automation either.
There are nuances and specifications based on the process, department need and industry use case, from healthcare to government, for example, or unpacking how different types of process automation technologies will transform sales roles versus IT positions.
However, several process automation-related themes are universal. Here are some key assumptions:
- More processes will be automated. Automation will continue absorbing repetitive manual tasks such as data entry and information collection, allowing workers to focus on higher-value work. McKinsey estimates about one-third of current job functions in 60% of jobs could be automated. Therefore, the functional responsibilities of many jobs across industries will evolve.
- The workforce will become more dispersed. In an increasingly interconnected world, centralized workplaces make less sense. As the cost of living rises in cities like San Francisco and Seattle — and as we create more sophisticated ways for employees to connect digitally — I think we’ll see a shift away from physical office spaces for every employee.
- Automation will be a team effort. Many speculate — and are building companies around the idea — that frontline employees, like ops professionals, business analysts, etc. will take over more of the bulk of development processes and become “citizen developers.” I think automating processes will become less centralized, and many members of an organization will play an active role in reaching digital maturity.
With these themes in mind, I’m personally looking forward to diving into this new decade of process automation and preparing our businesses for what work will look like over the next ten years.
Interested in learning how you can manage, automate, and optimize your processes? Get in contact today.