David Lee from PwC explains how automation is changing industry and why both digital and soft skills are critical to digital transformation.

Automation and digital transformation go hand in hand, the former significantly paving the way for the latter.

David Lee, a technology partner with PwC Ireland, told Siliconrepublic.com of executive concern about the speed with which technology and automation are advancing.

“71 percent of Irish CEOs in PwC’s Irish CEO Survey 2021 said they were concerned about the pace of technological change in terms of their company’s growth prospects, the highest in any year of the survey,” he said.

“At the same time, business leaders are seriously investing in technology. 41 percent of Irish CEOs plan to make double-digit investments in digital transformation over the next three years. More than a third (37 percent) will focus on increasing employee productivity through automation and technology. “

Lee said AI will also play an important role in transforming businesses. Another PwC survey shows that 72 percent of business decision makers say AI can enable people to focus on more meaningful work.

“This includes the simplification and rationalization of tasks and the elimination of manual processes. Innovative AI techniques also mean less room for error, ”he said. “Recent research by PwC on the automation of analyzes has shown that even the most rudimentary AI-based extraction techniques can save companies 30 to 40 percent of the hours normally spent on such processes.”

Lee’s main piece of advice for companies that haven’t yet adopted automation was to remember that this is a change in mindset, not just a new technology.

“Don’t just automate the ‘as is,’ rethink and redesign and then automate it. At the same time, create a culture of collaboration that encourages your employees to come up with new ideas throughout your company. “

Lee also spoke about the importance of skills in automation. Earlier this week, Tim Olsen from Hays gave a taste of the skills required to work in automation, AI, and robotic process automation.

But outside of these roles, automation will touch many other areas of the workplace, and Lee said employee experience and training needs to be high on the agenda.

“[Give] Your employees the tools they need for a digitally supported world. You need the best people and you need them to stay and grow the business, ”he said.

“Implementing automation and digital transformation requires people with the necessary digital skills as well as people with the soft skills to manage the change process. The skills gap remains a major concern for companies, and upskilling has become one of the most important ways to fill that gap. “

He also said companies need to have clear performance metrics to measure steps taken towards automation.

“It’s just as important and challenging to make sure these are clearly communicated and understood. The consideration of role changes due to the time freed up can also be a challenge. “

Lee also said that PwC is on a journey of digital learning, including automating much of its work products.

“Our focus is on educating all of our employees by introducing them to new ways of thinking through two-day digital academies and giving them hands-on experience with a variety of digital tools,” he said.

By David Lee

David Lee is a technology partner at PwC Ireland.

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