IDC Report: Robotics adoption continues to grow, large opportunity remains

Rich Otterman Last Updated: August 28th, 2020

The growing demand for distribution center labor demand coupled with historically low unemployment rates is forcing distribution center operators to find new ways to increase facility throughput to meet customer demand cost-effectively. Overwhelmingly, these operations are turning to robotics providers for help.

While robotics adoption is growing rapidly–and coverage on the phenomenon has dominated supply chain trade publications–many distribution center operators are uncertain of robotics utilization and potential value. To answer these questions, IDC recently published a “MaturityScape” report on autonomous robotics.



Key findings of the report, titled “IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Autonomous Mobile Robots in the Warehouse and Fulfillment Center in the United States,” include:

  • Very few organizations are at the highest levels of AMR maturity in the warehouse and fulfillment center, indicating there is still tremendous value to gain through the use of this technology.
  • One-third of organizations are at the middle level of maturity, indicating that many are on the way to optimizing the use of AMRs in their processes.
  • Nearly half of all responses are at the lowest two stages of maturity, with a lot of room to grow.

“We believe there is a tremendous growth opportunity in mobile robotics,” said Jerome Dubois, co-Founder and co-CEO at 6 River Systems. “We’re helping our customers to reach what IDC calls the ‘Managed’ and ‘Optimized’ maturity levels by deploying our solution and creating ongoing value by leveraging our experience with robotics coupled with a deep understanding of distribution operations.”

IDC segments autonomous mobile robot buyers into 5 maturity categories:

  • Ad hoc: The use of AMRs is experimental, mostly sporadic, and inconsistent.
  • Opportunistic: A well-defined pilot program exists. The use of AMR technology is largely guided by human directive rather than fully autonomous.
  • Repeatable: AMRs are being used in strategic areas across facilities and processes. The AMR technology is not yet fully integrated, but the AMRs are taking work orders and direction digitally.
  • Managed: The use of AMRs is now providing a competitive advantage, enabling quantifiable improvements in scalability and flexibility.
  • Optimized: The distribution and use of AMRs is widespread across the enterprise. Business processes are designed to optimize the use of AMRs.

6 River Systems is the provider of the world’s first and only fully collaborative mobile robotics fulfillment solutions. The 6RS solution works alongside the warehouse associates, leading them through order picking processes and eliminating long walks by bringing work to the associate and delivering completed work to the next step in the process autonomously.

6RS customers report 2-3x increase in productivity, near-perfect accuracy, and up to 90% reduction in time for new workers to achieve performance targets.

Download the IDC report. 


About 6 River Systems

6 River Systems was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 2015 by Jerome Dubois, Rylan Hamilton and Chris Cacioppo. Jerome and Rylan were previously executives at Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics). The 6 River Systems engineering team has decades of automation, software and operations experience and has designed, built and deployed the world’s largest warehouse automation solutions. The company’s goal is to make fulfillment faster and more efficient by building flexible automation solutions that generate immediate and lasting value for customers.

6 River Systems is supported by world-class venture capital firms and strategic investors, including Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Eclipse and iRobot. Amy Villeneuve, former president and COO of Kiva Systems, is a member of the board.


About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,100 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For 50 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology media, research, and events company.