Given a labor pool that is not increasing at the rate required to meet the accelerating demand, enterprises are looking for technological solutions like intelligent automation that can enable the automated smart tasking of their workers empowered via prescriptive analytics and mobile software to overcome their challenges. As noted by Deep Agarwal, Regional Sales Director – Indian Sub-continent at Zebra Technologies, “Given the complexity of their workflows, finding the right domain expertise for the job is key to a successful digital transformation. So too will be orchestrating human and robot workflows in a synergistic way across the warehouse and distribution center as well as the retail store.”
He further adds, customers are asking for automation and workflow augmentation solutions to optimize the performance of their limited and in some instances, shrinking, skilled labor pool. Given the growing complexity of workflows and the need for digitalization to enable automation, the need for domain expertise has become critical to success.
Today, more and more organizations are experiencing the benefit of the combination of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), not only for the back office but also for the front office processes. Intelligent Automation, as a perfect blend of both the technologies, has given rise to no fewer than 6 million digital employees who have time to focus on creative aspects of the business rather than spending their precious time on dull and mundane tasks.
The technology increases the understanding, reasoning, problem-solving, learning, and interaction abilities of the IA bot, or more accurately the digital agent. As noted by a report, this potentially enables a higher degree of so-called Straight Through Processing (STP) and in effect further optimization of business processes. Intelligent Automation enables organizations to bring the cost savings of the back-office process to the benefit of the front-office process and customer satisfaction. Moreover, greater flexibility and agility can be achieved for larger organizations with Global Business Service centers. Finally, intelligent automation can contribute to larger employee satisfaction, because the boring repetitive administration work and administrative burden are taken over by the digital colleague. Especially of value in the current time of resource scarcity.
According to Deep, computer vision, augmented reality and robotics are some other significant technologies that are making the automation process efficient while capturing, aggregating and democratizing data to further augment and empower the human worker experience.
Computer Vision focuses on creating a digital business ecosystem through modalities such as scanners, robots, and other edge solutions. Moreover, as camera technology becomes “intelligent”, customers will be able to monitor their environments and workflows and make automated decisions to improve customer experiences (such as frictionless checkout, automated shelf inventory control, loss prevention, quality control, and object/item/action recognition) and improve the understanding of their operations.
Using augmented reality to direct workers to task assignments, guide new workers or find lost items by overlaying information on the information from the camera – on their mobile computers or wearable devices, businesses can introduce whole another interactive and innovative level of human-machine collaboration.
Furthermore, the industry is marching towards an era where, instead of replacing workers, robots will assist workers by guiding workers through their workflow and transporting items and completed work, taking away mundane travel time to give back to the worker for high-value tasks. In this way, robotics solutions can “take the robot out of the human” and allow companies to reallocate their human labor force toward the greatest area of need and highest value. However, workflow optimization solutions today typically focus on either human tasks and workflows or robotic tasks and workflows, with little to no crossover (and therefore, synergy) between the two.
“Cooperative orchestration between automation systems and human workers” through any intelligent technology will be critical to achieving the highest levels of productivity improvement in the not-too-distant future.