Automation and the industries with the most to lose

Business process automationcognitive computingartificial intelligence and robots are all terms used in varying degrees to outline the role technology which thinks like a human might one day play in our society.

Like all technology challenges around adoption, price and usability are being questioned almost as quickly as innovations are being released. What cannot be denied is the ability for computers and systems to think for themselves is becoming a reality.

"The ability for computers and systems to think for themselves is becoming a reality."
Matthew Egan, Writer, Tech Exec

To take a look at this exciting area of the technology a little further, we have put together a list of industries which could be the first to be disrupted by technology automation.


For the industry charged with selling the benefits of process automation, in the short term technology might be significantly impacted by its own ingenuity.

A recent report by HfS Research argued by 2021 the IT industry could lose up to 1.4 million jobs globally due to automation including roles in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Many industries currently rely on shared services solutions via BPO companies. The belief is cognitive solutions are at a point where they can compete in some areas with BPO solutions.

On a positive note, the research says although basic IT jobs are set to drop by 30 per cent over the next five years, medium-skilled and high-skilled roles are set to increase by 8 per cent and 56 per cent respectively.

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Technology is reaching new levels of sophistication. PHOTO: Getty Images.


With pressure for banks to remain profitable, compete with nimble fintech start-ups and deliver the best customer experience to its digitally native market, the rise of the robots is real for the financial services industry.

Global banking powerhouse Citi has warned up to 30 per cent of retail banking jobs could be lost between 2015 and 2025 due to automation.


Although McKinsey recently noted less than 30 per cent of a nurse’s role could ever be automated, the constant pressure on global healthcare systems is seeing robotics pop up in a variety of different guises as the technology reaches the right level of sophistication.

Already robots are being used as therapists, with hospitals deploying robots to work with children on the autism spectrum. US group Robokind is already selling a bot named Milo which connects with children with autism.

The use of automation does not stop at a social level for health. Autonomous robot STAR recently performed a surgical procedure on a pig, stitching up its bowel.


With online juggernauts like Alibaba and Amazon forcing retailers to reinvent business models to remain relevant, many retailers are looking at robots to reduce labour costs.

In Australia and New Zealand, pizza company Domino’s has introduced us to DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit),the first autonomous delivery driver. The robot has already been put through its paces in via trials in Queensland and at the cost of $A30,000 could be set to replace your local delivery driver.

In the US, retail giant Target is testing a robot named Tally to take stock and inventory in the aisles of its shops.  Softbank’s Pepper has been employed as a customer service agent in Japan, as well as landing a gig at leading French retailer Carrefour.


The power of cognitive technology will see insurance become unrecognisable within a matter of years. Already some of the world’s leading insurers are investing heavily in automation, with IBM’s cognitive pin-up Watson being employed by Swiss RE to assist with the underwriting process.

McKinsey believes up to one in four jobs in insurance could go within the next 10 years. Australian insurers are onto this - just last month IAG posted a role for a Robotics Lead via its digital lab’s team.

Rival Suncorp released a whitepaper last year which discussed how the power of automation in underwriting could potentially bring on a skills-shortage for the industry.

Matthew Egan is a writer at Tech Exec. This story originally appeared on that website.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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