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Get your C-suite ready for automation

Tim Lewis

Senior business leaders must prepare for the introduction of robots into the workplace, write Stephanie Hyde and Wilson Chow for Strategy+Business.

Robots are no longer solely the preserve of sci-fi writers. A recent study by PwC suggested that 20% of jobs will be at high risk of automation by the late 2020s, with the figure rising to 30% by the mid-2030s. Like it or not, you will soon be working with robots – if you are not already.

Industrial and service robots – including AI and RPA (robotic process automation) – will transform every department in your company, from the factory to the office floor.


The C-suite will not be immune. Executives are less likely to find themselves surplus to requirements due to automation, but you will have to adapt, and help your company to adapt, to the brave new world. PwC’s Stephanie Hyde and Wilson Chow recommend you start creating a five- to 10-year road map for both your own career and for your company right now.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What actions will you need to take to prepare for the ways robots will transform your company and industry?
  • Structurally, what has to change in your company?
  • What type of employees will you need, what will their roles be and how will they work together?
  • How will you manage your new human-robot hybrid workforce?


Here’s what your C-suite will look like in the not-too-distant future:

1) The CEO. Chief executive officers must lead from the front, providing a clear vision for the company’s future and both driving and managing change. They will be responsible for ensuring the board of directors has the know-how to provide good governance and guidance and for fostering a harmonious culture.

2) The CFO. Chief financial officers will have to judge whether investment in automation is paying off and oversee regulatory compliance and build trust with regulators and investors.

3) The COO. Chief operating officers will be responsible for managing the transformation from a human workforce to a human-robot hybrid workforce, ensuring a full understanding of the new technology.

4) The CHRO. Chief human resources officers will have to communicate the benefits of automation to human employees, addressing how best to manage robots and provide training so that all employees can do so. They will need to keep a constant eye on employees’ skills, managing upskilling and reskilling.

5) The CMO. Customers will demand personalisation of products and services, and so chief marketing officers will come to rely more and more on advanced data analytics performed by robots. They will work more closely with sales to meet customer expectations.

6) The CIO, CTO, CDO and CRO. Technology executives – including chief information officers, chief technology officers, chief digital officers and chief robotics officers – will obviously have a major role to play. They will handle all of the ways in which automation technologies will impact the business, such as cybersecurity, data management and analytics and relationships with tech companies.


The change is not going to happen overnight, but make no mistake, it will happen – and you need to be ready to take control of it.

“If you, as a senior leader, want to come out ahead, you should start discussing these changes with your fellow functional leaders today to lay the groundwork for your long-term strategy,” write Hyde and Chow.

Source Article: How Robots Will Transform The C-Suite
Author(s): Stephanie Hyde and Wilson Chow
Publisher: Strategy+Business