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One in ten jobs obsolete in five years

Robotic Process Automation is just the beginning. Robots for standard processes are on the verge of a breakthrough. Autonomous agents with "real" AI are still dreams of the future.
E-3 Magazine
October 24, 2018
One in ten jobs obsolete in five years
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The management consultancy Horváth & Partners has developed a model that brings order to the multitude of automation solutions and presents the results of a recent study on its use and effects.

Three quarters of companies already have simple, repetitive data processing procedures carried out by robot programs.

"Robotic Process Automation, or RPA for short, has established itself at a rapid pace"

says Sebastian Ostrowicz, automation expert at Horváth & Partners. One reason for this is probably the high level of satisfaction with this technology: 93% of the decision-makers surveyed stated in the study that they had fully achieved or even exceeded their efficiency targets.

"However, RPA is only the entry-level technology in the four-stage model on the way to intelligent process automation."

According to the expert, the next two stages, cognitive automation and digital assistants, will also become established in the next one to two years. They are currently being piloted or planned in around one in three companies.

"The different expansion stages of process automation do not replace each other, but are used in different areas"

says Ostrowicz. Cognitive automation refers to machine learning software that is able to recognize patterns even in unstructured and small amounts of data and process them according to an algorithm that it continuously improves itself.

Digital assistants are used in communication with people. They process and use text or speech and are trained to recognize human intentions.

"However, the highest and only level at which we can actually speak of AI is still a dream of the future: autonomous agents"

says Ostrowicz.

In this intelligent process automation, complex software systems process an unlimited amount and type of data and take on tasks and decisions that exceed human judgment, for example in autonomous driving. According to the study, less than five percent of companies are already using this technology.

Massive impact on the world of work

But even the simpler digital process processing assistants of the first to third generation will have a serious impact on companies' personnel and task structures.

According to the study, eleven percent of full-time positions will become obsolete within the next five years due to the increasing use of automation solutions. Another five years on, the respondents expect almost a fifth of jobs to be cut (18%).

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