Deepening economic problems are pushing a majority of businesses towards intelligent automation, robotic process automation (RPA), and so-called ‘digital employees’ (software robots). That’s according to a new survey by automation software provider, SS&C Blue Prism.

Sixty-nine percent of business leaders plan to adopt intelligent automation in some processes to address spiralling cost pressures caused by, among other things, surging inflation and commodity prices, claims the vendor.

SS&C Blue Prism commissioned a survey of 1,000 business leaders. It found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enterprises have seen significant cost increases in the last year, with manufacturing hit the hardest.

The average cost of doing business has risen by nine percent. However, the study also found that these economic shifts are heralding a new era of work.

As a result, 78 percent of business leaders are now turning to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation (IA) to help address rising costs, talent shortages, and other economic shocks.

“This study shows the importance of automation to the future of industry,” said Eric Tyree, SVP of AI and Innovation at the vendor.

“It’s not only about achieving a competitive edge, but also about long-term viability. It’s about automating what you can and using people where you should – embracing the ‘power of two’ to bring about your organisation’s goals and deliver the best to your employees, customers, and stakeholders.

“The future of work is a collaboration between human workers and digital workers, leveraging the power of IA to drive innovation, growth, and fulfilment.”

Santander Group is just one example of an organisation that was able to reduce its employee onboarding process – in this case, from six weeks to only two days.

Meanwhile, global dairy company Fonterra found success when it automated 38 dairy inventory checks, reducing process time by 92 percent and addressing the company’s supply chain waste issues.

In March this year, US FinTech, outsourcing, and services provider SS&C completed its acquisition of British automation provider Blue Prism for $1.6 billion.

The UK company’s ‘digital employee’ solutions became part of a wider suite of technologies that includes its new owner’s intelligent automation platform, SS&C Chorus.