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Automation and Talent: Is There a Link?

May 19, 2020

When looking at the benefits of automation, there tends to be a strong focus on direct and measurable efficiency and economic gains. There may be mention of a notional side-benefit of ‘freeing up people to perform higher-value activities’ – though it is more likely that the CFO will have a greater focus on headcount reduction than redeployment.

Given the acknowledged importance of talent, there is a serious question to be answered over whether the nature and level of automation within a business makes a difference in attracting and retaining talented individuals. IACCM’s latest research report, to be published this week, examines this question from the perspective of contract and commercial management.

Background: The Current State

Contract and commercial management (CCM) has often struggled to gain widespread recognition of its underlying role or value within business. Yet on LinkedIn alone, there are more than sixteen million people operating with CCM job titles. Historically, the community’s status was constrained by the absence of a defined ‘body of knowledge’ and inconsistent understanding of the job role. While this is changing and has led to elevated status within many organizations, it remains a field that is often starved of investment – especially in terms of underlying systems and technology.

Research[1] shows that the typical CCM practitioner is highly qualified. 93% are educated to degree level, with 42% having advanced qualifications and 56% with a professional certification (though most in a field other than CCM). Job satisfaction levels have traditionally been high, with some 80% declaring that ‘I like my job’. But in 2019, this number had dropped to 68%, with the balance actively seeking a change. Of those, 17% wanted to continue in the role with a different employer and 15% wanted to shift to a completely different career.

This data offers us a base to explore three key questions, which are answered in the IACCM report:

  1. Can sources of dissatisfaction be linked to the presence or absence of automation?
  2. Is there any evidence to show a link between levels of automation and levels of talent attracted?
  3. Is there any evidence to show a link between levels of automation and levels of talent retention?

The report concludes that, while the findings cannot be viewed as definitive evidence of a direct link between levels of automation and the attraction and retention of talent, the consistency of the linkage to job satisfaction suggests that it is at least a significant factor, making people feel part of a valued team, equipped for and contributing to the future.

[1] IACCM Talent Survey, 2019

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