Automation Technologies, Robotics, And Artificial Intelligence In The Workforce

J.P. Gownder
Vice President, Principal Analyst
June 26, 2017

Last week, McDonald's shares hit an all-time high, bouyed 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 begun to reshape every company's workforce, including yours. Leaders across all roles, companies, and verticals are taking note; right now, my report The Future of Jobs, 2027: Working Side-by-Side with Robots is one of the five best-read among all reports at Forrester. We forecast a world in which automation cannibalizes 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.

Today, we release our big follow-up report: TechRadar: Automation Technologies, Robotics, and AI in the Workforce, Q2, 2017. As automation technologies become more prevalent, your organization needs a long-term strategic plan for its workforce. Why? For starters, your company faces the new challenge of implementing and managing a mixed human/machine workforce. To navigate this world, you must understand the use cases and relative maturity of each of key technologies that will power this new era, then build a strategic plan to support long-term investments.

In our TechRadar report, we consider the twelve key automation categories that will drive change in your workforce. Our analysis groups these technologies into a specific maturity phase (creation, survival, growth, equilibrium, or decline) and their potential for business value creation, adjusted for uncertainty (negative, low, medium, or high). The end result? You can benchmark your use of a wide variety of automation technologies against their maturity; tap into technologies you've not previously deployed (but that are making a big impact on other companies); and begin to develop your own five-year strategic digital workforce transformation plan around automation.

We invite clients to read the report here

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J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. He leads Forrester's research on the impact that automation technologies are having on employment and the future of work. He covers innovation in the context of disruptive devices — from PCs to mobile devices, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), digital signage, and robots. He was named one of the five most important people in the world in the area of wearable computing. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.

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