A few weeks ago McDonald's shares hit an all-time high, buoyed by Wall Street's expectations that investments in automation technologies will drive business value: As part of its "Experience of the Future" initiative, McDonald's announced plans to roll out digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 of its locations. The company will also extend its customer self-service efforts, deploying mobile ordering at 14,000 locations. Given McDonald's bold bet, where does your company currently stand in its use of automation technologies to transform your workforce and reshape customer experience?
The forward march of automation technologies – which include hardware (e.g. robots, digital kiosks), software (e.g. AI), and customer self-service (e.g. mobile ordering) – continues to reshape the world economy. Automation has already started to reshape every company's workforce, including yours.
Leaders across all roles, companies, and verticals are taking note. You may have read my previous article about my recent research on the future of jobs, whichcaught the attention of many business leaders when Forrester forecasted that automation will cannibalize 17% of US jobs by 2027, partly offset by the growth of 10% new jobs from the automation economy. Most importantly, we see human-machine teaming as a key workforce trend in the future, as more and more human employees find themselves working side-by-side with robotic colleagues.
To follow up on this research, I recently published a second report that digs deeper into the automation technologies, robotics and AI in the workforce that will reshape how work is done. As automation technologies become more prevalent, organizations need long-term strategic plans for their workforce.
Why? For starters, companies face the new challenge of implementing and managing a mixed human/machine workforce. To navigate this world, they must understand the use cases and relative maturity of key technologies that will power this new era, then build a strategic plan to support long-term investments.
In this research, Forrester identified and evaluated twelve key automation categories, including virtual agents, retail/warehouse robots and cognitive AI, that will drive change in the workforce. Our analysis groups these technologies into specific maturity phases and their potential for business value creation. Here are a few key takeaways:
In the end, enterprises need to develop a strategic plan as automation technologies continue to change the workforce. To start, companies can benchmark their use of a wide variety of automation technologies against their maturity, tap into technologies they’ve not previously deployed (but that are making a big impact on other companies), and begin to develop their own 5-to-10-year strategic digital workforce transformation plan around automation.
Gartner has positioned Vodafone as a "Leader" in its Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide report 2017, for the fourth consecutive year