So, how should businesses manage the changes to the workforce that automation will bring?
"Training and more training," says Tshepo Motshegoa, group CIO of 3Sixty Financial Services Group, who will speak at ITWeb BPM and Automation 2019, to be held on 9 April, at The Forum in Bryanston.
He says automation will mean new skills will be required, so education will be essential. "Businesses must put a strong focus on skills development, and must also shift their strategic focus to reflect technology as a key driver of product design and development."
Businesses that cannot handle digitisation will eventually die, as they will be unable to deliver on products and services at the same scale and speed as their competitors, adds Motshegoa.
Speaking of the inevitable job losses that will result from the automation of manual tasks, he says the fear of technology taking over jobs is not new, and has in fact been there since the first industrial revolution.
"However, what we have seen over the last century is that the number of jobs has increased. The number of accountants in England and Wales, for example, has risen twenty-fold since the census in 1871. Note that the population has less than tripled in the same period, indicating the immense increase in work," says Motshegoa.
Similarly, automation will give rise to more jobs of a different kind. The trick, he says, is in having a skilled workforce and the case for SA in that regard is not looking good.
"We are not skilling our workforce fast enough to match the speed at which automation and all other factors that come with the fourth industrial revolution impact our daily working lives."
As Motshegoa describes himself as a big fan of history, delegates attending his talk will see a big-picture view of where humanity is going with regards to automation and robotics based on what history tells us.
"I will attempt to connect the dots between the years 1800 and 2100. I will also be presenting two schools of thought around the possible trajectory automation and robotics will force human evolution to, and the impact on our everyday lives," he concludes.