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August 14, 2017

Automation becomes top priority for UK businesses seeking competitive advantage

Six in ten businesses believe automation will have a positive impact on businesses to help give them a competitive advantage.

By April Slattery

The majority of businesses believe that automation will increase productivity and give them a competitive advantage.

That’s according to research from Robert Half which found that six in ten businesses believe automation will drive productivity.

Digital transformation and automation has allowed businesses to use artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to enhance their performance on simplistic tasks to create a more efficient working environment, by helping businesses to become more efficient, productive and compete within their respective market areas.

It was found that 87% of executives have already seen the positive impact that a growing reliance on technology can hold for organisations. Digitalisation will increase productivity of each individual (59%), enable employees to focus less on data entry and more on the tasks they are carrying out (59%) and providing opportunities to learn new skills (51%) finance executives believe.

The majority of businesses believe that automation will increase productivity and give them a competitive advantage.

87% of businesses believe automation will positively impact their business and competitive advantage.

Matt Watson, Director at Robert Half UK said: “Digitalisation will offer a new approach where labour and time-intensive processes can be shifted to allow for more value-added work to take place.”

Improved efficiency and productivity, better decision making and more value added work being taken on by employees are all benefits that employees have already seen or are expecting to see from digital transformation within the workplace.

More jobs are expected to be automated over the next three to five years. It is estimated that by 2022, jobs in payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable will be automated, Robert Half’s research found.

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Having automation as a top priority for businesses stems from the need to address threats and opportunities to gain a competitive advantage and technology is the easiest, most efficient way.

Watson said: “Automation is impacting traditional business functions in a big way. Finance is no exception and professionals will need to be prepared to hold a more prominent and integrated influence on the wider business, gaining new skills that will see them through the technological shift.”

Read More: HSBC taps IBM robotics & cognitive tech for process automation

Within the next three years, research by Robert Half, found that digital process will be extended to manual data entry tasks such as financial modelling (41%), generating financial reports (40%), project management and reporting (38%).

Peter Simons, Head of Future of finance CIMA said: “We are already seeing this move occur within the finance department with the shift from technical to commercial skills. In the future, financial insights won’t just come from financial analysis but collaborating with other areas of the business.”

The report is based on interviews with more than 200 senior finance executives across the UK.

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