Unpacking AI & Automation: Our 2020 In(Sight) Report

4 min read
WorkMarket Editorial Team
WorkMarket Editorial Team
Unpacking AI & Automation: Our 2020 In(Sight) Report

Automation and AI are impacting modern workforces in profound ways. The collective rise of algorithms, automation and cognitive technology — such as machine learning — will continue to impact the trajectory of global economies, labor markets and corporate growth strategies, placing billions of dollars in the balance. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here.

The WorkMarket 2020 In(Sight) Report: What AI & Automation Really Mean For Work provides an insightful exploration and analysis of the evolving state of this labor revolution and its business impacts. Created in partnership with KRC Research and Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and recognized authority on the on-demand economy, the objective observations in this report offer compelling reasons for people to be excited about the benefits of workforce management technology.

2020 Insight Report Popup

The report features key takeaways and trends that represent the viewpoints of business leaders and employees alike:

Automation holds real business potential, despite differing viewpoints among business leaders and employees. A plurality of business leaders and employees agree that at least parts of their job could be automated, though actual adoption may be hindered by diverging perspectives on automation potential. Bridging the attitude gap between business leaders and employees may run parallel with realizing the business potential of automation.

  • More than half (52% vs. 29% employees) of business leaders are interested in workforce automation.
  • Employees are most likely to say they feel indifferent (32% vs. 10% business leaders) about automation.

Automation has more immediate and applicable value than Artificial Intelligence, at least for now. While some industries are already ahead of the curve with regard to automation, most are not yet using automation to manage on-demand workers, with AI implementation ranking even farther down the list of priorities. While business leaders are interested in AI, there is greater enthusiasm for workforce automation to bring tangible value to their business in the near term.

  • 41% are currently using workforce automation technology while only 13% are using Artificial Intelligence technology.
  • More than half of business leaders (56%) plan to implement workforce automation technology in the next 3-5 years compared to 44% for Artificial Intelligence.

Automation Chart

The prospect of automation is real and within sight for many businesses. Employees and business leaders alike believe that at least some of their day-to-day tasks can be automated. Time saved through automation as well as the ease of implementation, particularly for the automation of mundane tasks, can be used to improve overall quality of work and empower employees and leaders alike to focus on what they do best.

  • 74% of respondents, both business leaders and employees, believe that at least parts of their job could be automated.
  • 61% of business leaders believe that automation can be somewhat or very easily utilized in their industry and jobs within their industry in the next 12 months.

While IT issues, data processing and time entry are the biggest distractions, they’re also the most automatable tasks today. Employees and business leaders agree that certain non-core tasks (i.e. scheduling meetings and expense management) take away valuable time from more important work. Topping the list are IT and technology issues, which are seen as the most automatable non-core tasks.

  • IT/technology issues ranked highest by both business leaders (43%) and employees (29%) as the task most keeping them from doing more important work.
  • 70% of business leaders believe that 10% to nearly 40% of their time is devoted to tasks that are mundane and not core to their job description, equating to approximately 45 minutes to 3+ hours of an 8 hour workday.

Distract Chart

An overwhelming majority of respondents believe automation possesses real value, and could save them hundreds of hours a year. Business leaders and employees overwhelmingly agree that there are advantages to automation (i.e. error reduction, quality improvement, speed efficiency, productivity advancements), but employees are slightly more likely to worry about the risks of automation, such as the potential for job loss.

  • 90% of respondents believe there are advantages to automating tasks at their organization, particularly a reduction in manual errors (48%), an increase in the speed at which tasks are completed (42%) and better quality work product (38%).
  • 53% of employees believe they could save up to 2 hours a day by automating tasks; that equates to roughly 20 hours a month.
  • 78% of business leaders believe they could save up to 3 hours a day by automating tasks; that equates to roughly 30 hours a month.

Advantages and Risks Chart

While unease regarding the proliferation of automation and AI won’t likely subside anytime soon, our findings illustrate a labor force that works hand-in-hand with advances in technology. In short: the robots aren’t coming for your jobs. Our advice: embrace automation, and empower your team to focus on what they do best.

Download the full WorkMarket 2020 In(Sight) Report: What AI & Automation Really Mean For Work today to learn more about the evolving state of work and what it means for your business.