UK businesses set to double rate of automation over next five years as AI hits the boardroom agenda

30/10/2019 | News, Press Releases

New research from Thoughtonomy finds that CEOs are now personally driving business case for intelligent automation to boost productivity and growth

London, 30th October 2019:  UK businesses are planning a dramatic increase in their use of AI and automation technology over the next five years. 60% of organizations are aiming to automate at least 10% of all operational processes within that timeframe, double the current level of automation.

And more than a third of businesses (38%) expect to have automated more than 20% of their processes within five years, a sharp increase from the 7% of organizations that have automated at this level today.

New research published today by Thoughtonomy and Teknowlogy Group, reveals the extent to which AI and automation is becoming a critical and strategic imperative for UK businesses across all sectors. Rather than being solely the domain of the IT department or specific business units, AI and automation strategy is now being driven at an organizational level at the most senior levels within organizations.

Indeed, more than half (55%) of CEOs are now involved in building a business case for new automation initiatives, along with 43% of Chief Digital Officers and 39% of CIOs.

The research, presented in the new white paper, ‘Taking Automation to the Next Level’, exposes the extent to which Intelligent Automation (where AI is integrated with Robotic Process Automation technology) can drive transformational change. Almost three quarters (71%) of automation strategy leaders predict that AI and machine learning (ML) technology within automation could have a transformational impact on their organization.

To learn more about machine learning and AI, head over to our What is RPA jargon buster.

Interestingly, the research reveals that the key business drivers for automation are changing as organizations scale up their automation programmes, and the technology becomes more sophisticated with the integration of AI and ML.

Whereas the main goal for the first wave of automation initiatives was most commonly to deliver cost reduction (cited by 42% of automation strategy leaders), over the next five years the biggest objective for automation will be to improve productivity (cited by 44%). Other major drivers for future Intelligent Automation programmes will be to improve business outcomes (rated as most important by 24% of strategy leaders) and to increase speed to market (12%). 

The study also indicates that new factors will emerge to support the business case for automation. More than half (52%) of organizations state that creating new or enhanced revenue streams will become one of the three main targets for future automation initiatives.

Terry Walby, CEO of Thoughtonomy, said: “This research indicates that many organizations are now setting their sights beyond RPA and moving quickly through the first wave of Intelligent Automation, where digital labor is primarily about streamlinng processes and removing cost, to the second and third wave, where digital labor becomes a strategic asset to change and optimize the way that organizations run their entire operations. And what’s exciting is that with this shift, the benefits become far greater – increased productivity, more robust regulatory compliance, enhanced capacity and more fulfilling work for staff, and more agility and scalability of resource across the entire organization. As we have been predicting, Intelligent Automation will become the major catalyst for growth, innovation and differentiation across nearly all sectors.”

As well as an emphasis on more strategic objectives, there will also be a change in the types of processes on which organizations focus as they scale up their automation programmes. Whilst the majority (62%) of organizations will continue to prioritize business-critical processes for automation, more businesses will give greater attention to customer-facing front office-processes (24%).

Encouragingly, the research demonstrates that the vast majority of organizations are overwhelmingly positive about their automation programmes to date. 55% of automation strategy leaders reported that the results of their early process automation initiatives have met their expectations, whilst 44% stated that results had exceeded their expectations.

Strategy leaders put their successes to date down to a range of factors, including putting the right governance structure in place (29%), selecting the right proceses for automation (26%), engaging the right stakeholders (24%) and finding the technology platform that best suited their needs (12%). It is clear that the majority of organizations view the scalability and flexibility of their automation platform as critical, with more than half (58%) opting for one that leverages a cloud-based delivery model.

Nick Mayes, Principal Analyst at teknowlogy Group, said: “Many organizations that have already deployed robotic process automation and experienced the benefits for themselves are clearly now waking up to the fact that the integration of AI and machine learning into their automation strategies means that the possibilities are becoming so much greater. This research shows that strategy leaders are eager to accelerate their intelligent automation programmes but they should take the time to develop a robust and future-looking strategy, with the right governance, skills and technology platform in place, so that they can scale at speed, but in a controlled and effective way.”

The full research findings are available in the ‘Taking Automation to the Next Level’ white paper, available for download here.

Thoughtonomy enables organizations to enhance the productivity of their workforce through our intelligent automation platform and digitization of knowledge work. It uses AI and robotic process automation to deliver a software as a service (SaaS) straight from the cloud to emulate how people work, allowing companies to add flexible resources to their team without disruption and delivering rapid ROI.

About Thoughtonomy

Thoughtonomy, a Blue Prism company, delivers an artificial intelligence (AI) driven intelligent automation platform that enables organizations and the people they employ to do more and achieve more.  A leading provider of intelligent, cloud-based automation, the company’s award-winning Software as a Service (SaaS) platform gives companies access to a pool of cloud based intelligent digital workers that can perform the repetitive, time-intensive tasks that slow people down. By integrating this digital workforce with their human teams, companies can accelerate growth and achieve a step change in efficiency. Thoughtonomy has grown at a rapid rate since being founded in 2013, with more than 200 customers using its platform in 29 countries spread across four continents.  In 2019, Blue Prism acquired Thoughtonomy, to add the SaaS offering into its wider Connected-RPA portfolio. 

For further information, please see


Daniela Zuin, CMO, Thoughtonomy
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07799 113040

Contact: Tom Holland
Email: [email protected]

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