The number of industrial robots is expected to rise from 1.8 million in 2016 to 2.6 million in 2019, which will have a significant impact on a number of industries, according to PwC.
PwC’s global CEO survey shows that 77% of CEOs think that technological progress is the megatrend most likely to transform how businesses interact with their stakeholders.
According to PwC’s Global Economy Watch: Rise of the robots – good news or bad for business and society? report, robotics can help businesses make better use of their existing capital stock and increase margins. This could create further demand for traditional forms of investment, such as warehouses and machinery. Business could then pass these productivity gains onto consumers by dropping the price of goods and services.
Robotics already play a major role in the manufacturing sector, but as the technology becomes more sophisticated, it will gradually permeate more industries including the services sector, which accounts for most jobs in industrialised economies.
PwC predicts robotics technology that complements labour will have less adverse effects on jobs than technology that displaces labour.
“In many consumer services sectors, for example, where human contact and care is of central importance, there is less scope for robots to replace humans – at least for the time being,” said Barret Kupelian, senior economist at PwC. “Technological breakthroughs are a disrupting force for businesses and workers. But for those businesses that can adapt fastest to new technologies, and for workers with characteristics that machines don’t currently have – such as creativity and empathy – improvements in technology could deliver substantial gains.”
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