Nov 17, 2020

Accenture: Race between education and technology

Janet Brice
3 min
education technology
With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking, according to a report from Accenture which reveal three-steps to success...

With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking, according to a report from Accenture which focuses on the race between education and technology.

“Our ground-breaking economic modelling uncovers how intelligent technologies will reshape the demand for tasks, skills and jobs,” say Accenture.

According to the report, It's learning. Just not as we know it, today’s education and training systems are not keeping up with the current demand for skills and tomorrow’s new demands.

“New approaches to learning are needed if businesses are to achieve the growth promised by intelligent technologies,” comment Accenture. “We suggest three remedies: Speed up experiential learning techniques, broaden individuals’ blend of skills and ensure inclusive access to tomorrow’s skilling solutions.”

According to statistics from Accenture, 90% will be the proportion of worker time that will be potentially impacted by intelligent technologies either through augmentation or automation.

“If G20 countries are unable to adapt the supply of skills to meet the needs of the new technological era, they risk forgoing up to US$11.5 trillion in GDP growth over the next 10 years.”

Accenture constructed 10 role clusters which shows the impact of intelligent technologies on each sector. The research shows that tasks in the Science and Engineering and the Empathy and Support clusters are most likely to be augmented while physical manual labour will be most exposed to automation in the coming decade.

In the US, Empathy and Support workers, such as nurses and psychiatrists, represent the largest single share of employment in the entire economy. “Our research highlights these roles are highly augmentable. A total of 64% of their work time could be potentially augmented and 14% might be augmented within the next 10 years. 

“As this happens, we can expect an increase in demand for these roles, as much as 1.4 million workers. With the right skilling investments, the prize is there for the taking.”

Accenture point out the response to the skills crisis: train more engineers; raise the number of arts graduates. But creating larger cohorts with certain skills is not the answer.

Two things stand out in Accenture’s analysis:

1. Creativity, socio-emotional intelligence and complex reasoning are the skills that are rising in importance across every work role. 

“These skills are not taught in today’s learning systems. They are acquired through practice, experience and often over long-time periods,”

2. The blend of skills required by each worker is becoming more complex. 

“There needs to be a greater emphasis on broadening the variety of skills within each worker.”

Three steps to success:

  • Speed up experiential learning:

From design thinking in the board room to simulation training tools for technical roles; from on-the-job training initiatives to apprenticeships. Apply new technologies like virtual reality and AI to make learning more immersive, engaging and personalised.

  • Shift focus from institutions to individuals:

Incentivise everyone to develop a broader blend of skills, rather than only targeting the output of institutions in terms of graduates or certifications.

  • Empower vulnerable learners:

Support older workers, those in lower skill roles or in smaller businesses. Offer more guidance to follow appropriate training and career pathways. Provide modular learning to suit their life commitments. Provide new funding models, such as grants, to encourage personal lifelong learning plans.

The Lifelong Learning Revolution – a two-part podcast featuring experts from the field of education technology and corporate learning can be heard by clicking on the link below:

Read more

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

Follow Business Chief on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Share article

May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”


Share article