Pod Group, a provider of platforms, software and connectivity services for the Internet of Things (IoT), and connected enterprises, today released a new study revealing that 73% of UK business leaders expect COVID-19 to spark a new wave of workplace and industry automation.
The study of 500 business leaders from across the UK, highlights how respondents expect automation technology to replace a considerable proportion of their labour force over the next 10 years. More than one-third (37%) of business leaders believe that at least 3 in 10 roles could be automated and just over a quarter (26%) believe that automation will replace more than 40% of employees.
In response to COVID-19, almost two-thirds (62%) of business leaders expect their companies to speed up plans to replace processes carried out by employees with automation technology. In certain sectors, this percentage is even higher – for example, in retail, catering and leisure (64%), in finance (71%) and in IT and Telecoms (73%).
When asked what the primary driver behind automation was, the majority cited cost savings (34%), less dependence on human labour (13%) and improved quality of work (13%). In retail specifically, the focus on cost savings is even more pronounced, with 51% of business leaders citing it as the main driver.
Despite having a clear focus on automation, 39% of business leaders also do not have, or unsure whether they have, a clear strategy for how automation technology can help their business thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
“COVID-19 has unquestionably accelerated the speed at which businesses are looking to introduce automation technology,” said Charles Towers-Clark, Global Chairman, Pod Group.
Towers-Clark continues: “With 73% of CEOs of the opinion that automation will help employees to fulfil their potential, the COVID-19 crisis has presented an opportunity to build on the change that many employees have already experienced. The results of this survey make me hopeful that CEOs won’t squander this opportunity by reverting back to command and control methodologies but instead will use digitalisation and automation to create a better working environment.”