Recruiting, Technology

Intelligent Automation and the Future of Work in the United States

Intelligent automation (IA), business process management (BPM), artificial intelligence (AI), and other advances are altering the fundamental nature of employment. They’re affecting how businesses manage their internal processes, interact with their clients, and offer products, prompting a wave of reinvention. There’s enormous value to be had: According to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution, IA and AI could add up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

IA and AI will also have a profound impact on the workforce. PwC estimates 38% of U.S. jobs could be affected by intelligent automation by 2030. This doesn’t mean these jobs will disappear entirely—many will be transformed. For example, employment in transportation and logistics is likely to become more reliant on IA for tasks such as route planning and package delivery.

As IA increasingly shapes the future of work, it’s essential to consider its implications for businesses, workers, and the economy.

What Is IA?

IA is a combination of technologies, including AI, BPM, and robotic process automation (RPA), and it can be used to automate complex, human-centric tasks that are traditionally difficult to automate.

For example, IA can automatically generate reports or complete customer service transactions. This is possible because technologies like natural language processing (NLP) can be used to understand unstructured data like text and images—a challenge for traditional automated processes.

How Is IA Changing Work?

IA is making some tasks more accessible and is giving human workers more time to focus on higher-level tasks requiring creative thinking and problem-solving. IA-powered digital workers are replacing simple, repetitive jobs because these bots can do these tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans. Second, IA is creating new job opportunities. As businesses adopt IA, they’ll need workers with the skills to manage and maintain their IA systems.

We need to anticipate some significant changes in how Americans work. Global consulting firm McKinsey analyzed more than 2,000 work activities across more than 800 occupations and found that roughly half of all work activities—not jobs—could be automated. These range from activities in highly structured environments, like warehouse work, to data collection and processing.

“Nearly all occupations will be affected by automation, but currently demonstrated technologies could fully automate only about 5% of occupations,” the McKinsey report says. Many more will automate portions of their work activities, and most workers will eventually work alongside digital or robotic colleagues.

Some 400 million workers worldwide could be displaced by automation, but McKinsey also predicted those losses will be offset by new technology creating between 555 million and 880 million jobs by 2030.

Prepare for Change

Digital workers’ core capabilities have multiplied exponentially in recent years. Combining multiple capabilities has enhanced digital labor to include unstructured data.

Today’s digital workers have machine vision, optical- and intelligent-character recognition (OCR/ICR), and intelligent document processing (IDP), which allow them to read and route documents using NLP.

Given the new technology available, businesses must change, as GE’s Jack Welch once said, before they need to, even if it’s complicated. (And let’s face it: Most change is difficult.) Cultural and occupational change must be embraced, coming from the top. Organizational leaders must prepare their workforce for the coming automation wave. Training and upskilling programs should be implemented now so the most valuable workers can start maximizing their potential, transitioning into new positions in which they work alongside or even supervise their digital colleagues.

Employees need to know profound and transformational change is coming sooner than most people realize. Educate them by highlighting how a seamless blend of human and digital labor can benefit the organization and individual employees.


The adoption of IA is inevitable. The question is not whether IA will shape the future of work but rather how we can harness it to its fullest potential. With the right policies, change management, and a trained workforce, IA can change the world of work for the better, benefiting businesses, workers, and the economy.

Gautam Moorjani is Head of Product of SS&C Blue Prism.

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