Automation, Talent Shortages and Trade Protectionism Among Top Business Trends for 2018

Innovative technology adoption, talent shortages, and trade protectionism are predicted to be the top trends in service delivery for 2018 and the next several years, according to research by KPMG.technology

According to the latest quarterly KPMG Global Insights Pulse survey, investing in new and improved information technology and investing more in robotic process automation (RPA) rank among the top initiatives identified by respondents.

“Almost all organizations are recognizing the potential huge impact and benefit that collective intelligent automation (IA) technologies and their capabilities will provide for addressing talent and skills shortages and improving process efficiencies while further driving out costs,” said Dave Brown, KPMG principal and leader of global and U.S. Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory services.

“Those organizations that focus on creative disruption using IA to drive true innovation, especially in new initiatives and in customer-facing operations, will likely become the clear, long-term winners. However, those fixated simply on cost-reduction alone will be the likely losers in the service delivery game,” he added.

The trends for 2018 predicted to have the largest positive impact include:

  • Intelligent automation: 62%
  • Greater access to innovative technologies (automation, cloud, data and analytics (D&A)): 56%
  • Improving customer demand: 42%

Those with the largest negative impact are:

  • Talent shortage: 55%
  • Trade protectionism: 36%
  • Restrictive environment for mergers and acquisitions (protectionism; nationalism): 32%

Separating Hype from Reality and Narrowing ‘Expectation Gap’

The survey of more than 1,000 KPMG professionals in 154 countries sought to separate marketing hype from reality when it comes to the latest trends and technology developments of Global Business Services (GBS), Intelligent Automation (IA), and the service delivery market. It includes observations by professionals in the firm’s Sourcing Advisory Services, Financial Management, Technology, Human Resources, Customer & Operations, and other practice areas.

Blockchain and AI as a service, as well as the use of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing continue to be the most talked about technology developments. Deploying D&A to deliver meaningful business value; having realistic plans and adequate resources for addressing e-commerce opportunities; cybersecurity challenges and threats as well as cybersecurity strategies, plans, and support continue to be the “most-real” in terms of trends and capabilities.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing will gain greater exposure across a wider number of firms, but organizations must understand how IA tools and techniques will be applied in order to close the gap between readiness and expectations in their capabilities,” Brown added.

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