Dear reader,

Will deserted factories now be succeeded by empty administrative offices, as machines take over an ever-increasing number of service tasks? Robotic process automation (RPA) is one of the key concepts underpinning the next wave of automation, and is leaving production processes in its wake while moving on to engulf administrative processes. Although robots have not driven people completely out of the factories, there are far fewer people now working in production, some of whom are highly-qualified specialists. As part of the Industry 4.0 revolution, we are now embarking on the next level of automation. It promises increased efficiency and leaps in quality, but will also fundamentally change the number and type of jobs available. This revolution is now beginning in the service and administrative sectors. New digital technologies offer the opportunity to drastically speed up administrative processes such as those in the field of accounting – or even to automate them completely. This will promote new business models and secure existing ones, for example in the financial services industry. The flipside of this is the far-reaching change it will instigate in our working world: many of the jobs of today will no longer exist in the future. The new jobs that emerge will require different skills and will not compensate for the loss of the older ones. Consequently, part of the transformative challenge posed by automation includes corporate responsibility.

Organizations would be well advised to act expediently to address the opportunities offered by robots in service segments and processes, and the effects this would have. This edition of Horváth Directions takes a look at where the journey is taking us, and highlights the risks and opportunities associated with the new technologies – and how they can be steered by means of operations performance management, for example. Interviews with managers at Deutsche Bank, the Versicherungskammer insurance group and Borealis also offer insights into experiences with robot-based solutions and artificial intelligence.

I hope you will find this issue an informative, enjoyable read!

Dr. Michael Kieninger
CEO, Horváth AG

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