Mother, Should I trust the Robots?
Tom Driscoll | 12/10/2020
For well over 200 years, Americans have lived in fear of the threat of innovation, technical advancements, and different forms of automated process efficiency displacing our jobs and sending us to the unemployment line. From the cotton gin to IBM’s Watson, the technical invention has advanced our way of life. Every year fancy new marketing terms come out to confuse us, to scare us into keeping up with Jones’s, ultimately put some of us out of work, and force us to adapt and evolve as humans. Don’t allow the massive technology companies to scare you into spending where you don’t need to spend, but do not get caught flat-footed doing nothing and allowing technology to put you out of business or yourself out of work. As always, we must adapt and coexist with the change, embrace it, benefit from it, adjust and retool our skill-sets. There may come the point where we should fear the robots. Is that time now?
Robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, and machine learning are probably familiar terms you have heard over the last few years. On the surface, they may sound like a complicated and futuristic concept or piece of technology. Most are using this today without even knowing it in their personal lives. Over the next few years, this space will continue to expand, and simple tasks will easily be automated, while more complex tasks continue to become possible with automation. Let me give you a few personal examples in the non-business world to relate to and bridge that gap to your professional lives!
The garage door is something so simple that can be so stressful for some. You are getting ready to head out for the day. Get in your car, open the door, pull the car out, close the door, drive away. Five minutes down the road, a thought hits you, did you close the door? Here comes the onset of anxiety. Now, imagine you pull away, and that thought hits you and could validate in an application that the door is closed remotely. Pretty simple, but effective.
Now let us take this one step further with some modern functionality. In your garage door app, you set geo-fencing (oh, sounds complex). A simple setting that enables your phone to communicate to the garage door application and share your location. With this now turned on, your app can know when you are leaving your house and automatically close the door for you. Taking a fundamental task and automating it with materials already available to you.
There are so many tasks where you can apply this incredible technology in the business arena. One cool example of this that I have been in recent discussions about is taking a job that anyone has dealt with rolls their eyes at, cycle count inventory. Thinking back on my days at a golf retailer, the entire store dreaded the twice a year manual inventory of everything in the store. With my business hat on, this is quite an expensive day (external vendor, each employee in the store working, etc.), but the benefits of doing it are enormous.
Twenty years later, many forms of technologies can resolve this problem once and for all. The daunting task of annual physical inventory that NOBODY wants to do, becomes a daily inventory without human interaction, with greater accuracy by leveraging robots, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). First, take pictures of an individual item and the bin it is stored within. Feed this into an AI process that can quickly crunch the item’s specifications and the bin specifications. With this data, you can now feed this AI model a picture of the bin with items in it, and it can tell you with high confidence what your current inventory is. Pretty cool, right? Now imagine putting a camera on a robot, and when the store or warehouse closes, it goes around taking pictures of bins. Your inventory is updated on the fly, without human intervention, at a much lower cost. You can now effectively manage your supplies with your lead times to stay on track with your sales forecast. The company can now track loss more frequently to catch issues to remediate much further in advance. Benefits keep stacking up, all by automating a task that annoys us and takes a lot of time. Greater flexibility in work schedules, better pay for employees that are retrained to take on new work, happier customers, and an empowered workforce.
This article I’ve shared below provides some examples where RPA will be advancing your companies, our lives in 2021. The time has come to make dumb things smart and to put the robots to work on the mundane tasks that humans are capable of automating. More importantly, to retool, cost-effectively educate, and advance those doing the repetitive work to unlock their human potential. Also, tearing down the barriers of access that keep portions of our great country oppressed and on the outside looking in. Advance your workforce, the people of our community, to do things robots can’t yet do, and to push the next generation of humanity forward! The time is now. We should not fear robots….yet.
Is this an opportunity within your company? Book a 30-minute meeting with our team to discuss how we can help your organization.
Director of Service Delivery
As the Director of Service Delivery for Tuatara Consulting. Tom is responsible for overall service delivery, customer engagement, and internal operations for Tuatara. He has a passion for helping clients achieve their business goals through successful business transformation efforts that consider people, process, and technology.