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Automation has more to give than it will take

Jimmy Fitzgerald, Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific and Japan, ServiceNow | Oct. 5, 2017
ServiceNow's Jimmy Fitzgerald shares why automation must be at the top of every enterprise's agenda.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

ServiceNow Jimmy Fitzgerald
Jimmy Fitzgerald, Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific and Japan, ServiceNow.

Since the introduction of automation, robots and artificial intelligence (AI), people have feared being outdone, and entirely replaced -- it is easy to see why. When a precisely assembled computer system, with no concept of exhaustion or error, replaces human muscle, there is an inevitable apprehension that technology will soon render certain jobs obsolete. Contrary to popular belief, there is more to the automation narrative than this single point of view.

Instead of simply delving into what automation can do for us, let us take a step back to imagine a world without automation.

You, just like 100 other employees, sit at your desk feeling both very busy, yet incredibly unproductive. Instead of working on strategic value-adding projects, you are weighed down by a whole list of mundane tasks. Instead of generating actionable insights, you are slogging through manual data entry from an endless stream of data. If these additional two hours of busy work does not seem to amount to much, aggregate the total hours all 100 employees spend and it becomes a whopping 200 hours of unproductive work. For any CEO, that is 200 hours of wasted man hours and lost opportunities.

A survey that ServiceNow conducted painted a similar picture, with 91 percent of leaders saying their skilled employees spend too much time on administrative tasks. To plug this gap, automation effectively replaces routine work, freeing up employees' time to do high-value work that requires creativity and problem-solving.

It is unsurprising, then, that 97 percent of Singapore leaders agree that intelligent automation could increase productivity. This includes artificial intelligence or machine learning to streamline decision making to improve the speed and accuracy of business processes.

It is against this backdrop that the Singapore government is taking steps to encourage the integration of technology into multiple sectors with the Smart Nation initiative. Instead of avoiding automation in the fear that it will replace humans, Singapore is working towards developing skills for the future with the establishment of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE). It will look towards job creation and introducing proposals like Industry Transformation Maps, that serve to identify opportunities for growth, like automation and innovative new technology.

 

Driving Financial Growth

We studied companies who had automated at least 70 percent of their business processes, and compared them to companies who had automated less than 30 percent. The results underscored that highly automated companies are six times more likely to experience revenue growth of more than 15 percent. Additionally, for every 10-point increase in business process automation, revenue growth increases approximately 7.64 percent.

 

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