How the Digital Transformation can put humans at the centre of robotics and automation (2021)
'How the Digital Transformation can put humans at the centre of robotics and automation' is a 2021 study, tendered by the European Economic and Social Committee. Its objective is to identify a set of operational recommendations that could be applied to both adopters and policymakers in the area of the digital transformation and point to a 'bundle' of good practices across sectors. What is more, the study's findings point to a need for organisations to put people at the forefront of the digital transformation and build the technology via a human-centric approach (one that is consistent with ethics and EU-wide shared values).
Getting digital transformation right
Digital transformation processes are transforming our economy and society: disrupting and altering business activities and changing the world of work. Our social actions do not remain untouched either: common daily activities like shopping, talking to one other, or searching for information are also undergoing changes. The study points to an adverse trend: despite the multiple efforts of the European Union to encourage the increased uptake of emerging technologies, businesses across the EU are still not taking full advantage of the opportunities in the area and end up missing out on potential innovations and collaborative projects. Disparities between companies and SMEs further complicate this. One recent study cited in the report found no evidence that AI was an important part of the products offered by 40% of Europe’s 2,830 AI start-ups. In addition, only 20% of the companies in the EU-28 are considered highly digitised and there are still many technological opportunities to be exploited especially by SMEs.
Skills in the digital transformation era
The report looks at professions, sectors, and roles, currently considered most at risk by automation and AI. For example, the report estimates that the manufacturing and services sector would be hardly hit, with 20 million manufacturing jobs potentially being lost to robots by 2030. Embracing the digital transformation has many benefits: it offers an opportunity to improve existing products and develop new ones, to optimise business processes, and upskill workers. The study provides examples of some successful cases where companies have integrated digital transformation products and processes within their organisational flow and have reaped benefits. All successful approaches shared several elements, including clarity of objectives, co-design practices, wide
and tailored communication to the workers, and extensive involvement of management-level employees.
The full report is available in English on the website of the European Economic and Social Committee.