Europe’s preparation for automation lags behind counterparts in North America and Asia Pacific, with government stimulus packages threatening to hinder post-pandemic progress

LONDON, March 29, 2021 — Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR) predicts that employment protection initiatives instituted during the pandemic will diminish incentives and further delay CIOs’ plans for automation across Europe. This is despite the fact that 76% of European organizations are already underprepared for automation compared to 65% in Asia Pacific and 73% in North America.

According to a new Forrester report, “The Path To Automation In Europe — Why And How It Will Be Different” by Principal Analysts Dan Bieler and Bernhard Schaffrik, only 20% of European business leaders can clearly articulate how automation could improve their business processes. These same leaders are facing greater government oversight on the progress of automation due to its impact on jobs.

Despite limitations, industries including utilities, manufacturing, and finance are leading automation efforts in Europe. Job markets such as Germany, which has a high degree of automation already, are likely to experience a faster rate of growth, while Southern and Eastern Europe will be slower to adopt automation due to its impact on production processes, employee and customer experience, and employment.

In the short term, Forrester anticipates limitations in progress as companies rethink automation plans to take advantage of government stimulus packages and employment protection schemes. Over the medium and long term, however, more European CIOs will build their companies’ business continuity resilience against pandemic-like events and eventually move toward “lights-out manufacturing” by deploying fully automated manufacturing processes based on technologies such as 5G connectivity, automated guided vehicles, and robots.

“Already one step behind their global counterparts, European tech leaders will now feel the added pressure of government oversight,” says Bieler. “If Europe wants to boost the benefits of automation and compete with the rest of the world on efficiency, resilience, and customer service, governments and businesses must reskill the workforce to support and advance automation initiatives.”

The report outlines seven steps to help CIOs navigate the challenges and create a solid framework for successful automation projects. Key steps include:

  • Reskilling the workforce. Automation and AI are further accelerating the demand for technological skills. Education and training are rightly touted as essential for softening the impact of workforce replacement by automation.
  • Allowing time before measuring automation benefits. On average, a full automation initiative rollout cycle from start to completion takes about one and a half years. To maximize the chances of success, it is critical to keep human experts on standby before moving them to other processes.
  • Retaining human expertise in your automation process design. Human judgment remains a key factor for automation projects, and without deep process expertise and historical knowledge of the path to automation within the company, both customer experience and employee experience will suffer.

Related Resources

  • Request the full report
  • Read Dan Bieler’s blog on the path to automation in Europe and its impact on the future of work.
  • Register to attend a webinar on how to plan your automation strategy.

About Forrester

Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR) is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. We help leaders across technology, marketing, customer experience, product and sales functions use customer obsession to accelerate growth. Through Forrester’s proprietary Research, Consulting, and Events, leaders from around the globe are empowered to be bold at work — to navigate change and put their customers at the center of their leadership, strategy, and operations. Our unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers, business leaders, and technology leaders worldwide; rigorous and objective research methodologies, including Forrester Wave™ evaluations; over 52 million real-time feedback votes; and the shared wisdom of our clients.