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88% of survey respondents view AI and machine learning, including generative AI as key tools for successful process automation

Organizations are urgently embracing intelligent automation to overcome today’s critical productivity challenges, according to Automation Now and Next: State of Intelligent Automation Report 2023 commissioned by Automation Anywhere, a leader in AI-powered intelligent automation solutions.

The survey conducted by Foundry across 1,000 automation leaders from different industries and regions found that investments in intelligent automation are increasing, with the average hitting $5.6 million in 2023, a 17% increase over 2022. Enterprises are investing heavily in Generative AI, according to the data—45% of survey respondents said they will invest in generative AI-powered automation over the next 12 months, signaling that businesses will rely upon generative AI to help drive much-needed productivity gains.

“Productivity is foundational to economic growth and the world’s next level of evolution. Intelligent automation, including AI and generative AI, are proving crucial to solving the massive productivity crisis unfolding in front of us,” said Ankur Kothari, Co-Founder, Chief Customer & Strategy Officer, Automation Anywhere. “The 2023 Now and Next report echoes our long-held belief that intelligent automation is the only true solution to the current workforce challenges facing organizations around the globe.”

AI is Essential for Automation Success
AI, particularly generative AI, is seen by most business leaders as a critical tool for successful process automation, due to its potential to supercharge business transformation, multiply productivity, and help mitigate potential risk. Organizations are already putting money behind these technologies, and plan to continue, as the majority say they already invest in AI and machine learning (ML).

AI/ML and generative AI were identified as key technologies for successful process automation by 88% of all respondents in the survey. 

  • 63% of survey respondents have already deployed AI/ML and 40% have already deployed generative AI. 
  • Another 72% say their organizations will be investing in AI/ML automation technologies in the next 12 months.
  • Virtual assistants are the #1 use case for intelligent automation in the survey, showing the rapid rise of generative AI. 

"As we automate the more tedious part of their work, employee satisfaction surveys result is better. Employees are more engaged. They're happier. That we can measure via surveys. The bots essentially do what people used to do, which is repetitive, low-value tasks,” reported a CTO of large healthcare organization.

Automation is the Best Path to Closing the Productivity Gap
Amid economic headwinds, organizations are feeling the effects of slowed productivity and sluggish growth. Retaining historic economic growth levels will require a significant increase in workplace productivity, according to estimates by McKinsey. Organizations now recognize that automation remains the most powerful tool to accelerate productivity, noting that productivity is the primary driver of enterprise automation efforts.

  • 78% of survey respondents say productivity gains are the desired impact of automation.
  • 86% realize the need to move beyond task automation/personal productivity to more complex end-to-end process automation to reach productivity goals.
  • 84% of respondents on average said a single, complete, and connected automation platform is required to scale enterprise-wide productivity gains.

"The competition is so much that if you don't adopt intelligent automation, you will perish. We want to grow two and a half times in the next three years in terms of the top line, so these factors are basically driving the investment in AI and automation,” stated an IT Director of a large life sciences company.

Intelligent Automation Must Scale Enterprise-Wide
Organizations are now scaling their automation programs enterprise-wide, which will heavily involve focusing on citizen development to accelerate automation adoption. By leveraging business application users, organizations can boost citizen development to drive automation at scale in alignment with business goals.

  • 85% of survey respondents say automations must be developed with business objectives in mind.
  • 82% of respondents actively support citizen development.
  • 41% of these enterprises broadly encourage citizen development. Another 40% encourage it in select areas.
  • 49% of respondents say security and governance concerns are barriers to citizen development.

The Automation Now and Next: State of Intelligent Automation Report provides visibility into ongoing trends unavailable elsewhere as it focuses on intelligent automation—the combination of automation plus artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), including emerging generative AI technologies—and how enterprises are deploying, using, and planning automation efforts today and into the future. Now in its fourth edition, The Automation Now and Next: State of Intelligent Automation Report shows how those efforts have shifted over the past five years. The full report is available for download here.

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