Analysts at Mintel, the consumer, product and media intelligence trend-tracker, named automated self-service as one of the biggest areas of opportunity and market potential for businesses.

Among a set of six key trends, Mintel Futures identified human automation as an area of global opportunity:

Today's consumers are chiefly experiencing automatic service in the form of storefront retail technologies, such as self-checkout terminals and mobile self-scanners, and many are warming to the concept. Mintel's research to date suggests there may also be even further opportunity in this area. Automated service can appeal, and in Mintel's Color Cosmetics UK August 2012 report, 28 percent of women say they find sales assistants at beauty counters intimidating, whilst in Mintel's Hotels US November 2012 report 30 percent of hotel guests say they wish there were more opportunities for automated service at hotels so they could interact less with hotel staff.

"Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly," said Richard Cope, director of insight and trends at Mintel. "For companies this means offering a choice between human expertise and automated fast-tracking in service, and adding customer customization and artisan suppliers to the product supply line. Man and machine are not at war, and the challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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