Digital Transformation: From Humans to Robotics and AI
We are at the edge of the unfolding of a full-blown Industrial Revolution 4.0 powered by the mixture of technologies such as the Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) that are disrupting businesses.
The advances in technologies continue to gain traction and even accelerate in light of the global pandemic. Investments in AI technology as one of the central enablers of digital transformation have soared because companies realized that it’s a business imperative rather than just a nice-to-have initiative. Human capital, processes, and existing resources couldn’t scale to address the growing needs caused by COVID-19. Digital intelligence and automation have proven to be perfect solutions that can speed up and simplify complex processes, optimize costs and propel companies through digitalization.
Robotics, what’s it all about
Cute, helpful, or terrifying are what come to mind when we say the word Robots: typical interpretations of humanoid robots with metal arms that replace people to do things better than we can or that might initiate a war against the human race.
Real-world robots are the ones that unload ships, assemble vehicles, and many other products. They enhance and complement human efforts, resulting in safer and less repetitive roles for workers. Industrial robots have been around for some time, but the boundaries between humans and robots were distinct. However, the line is blurring as the ever-evolving technology field contributed to the emergence of an entirely different scenario where humans work smarter with intelligent robotics (RPA) to automate various functions across the enterprise spectrum.
What is RPA?
RPA, short for Robotic Process Automation, refers to software programs that can mimic human interaction with applications and systems through existing user interfaces. This technology aims to automate back-office work, reduce human labor by taking care of routine and monotonous tasks, thus freeing up their time to do more valuable work.
Robotics are perfect solutions for replicating repetitive tasks and performing time-critical activities faster, and more accurately than any human being. It’s a cost-effective and less error-prone automation method. With RPA, there is no limit to where it can be applied and no part of any business that can’t benefit from it.
RPA realigns information systems
A typical RPA project takes around two months to complete and brings a positive return on investment within few months. By deferring mundane tasks to software robots, employees get time to concentrate on strategic works that involve reasoning and knowledge. RPA can control and manage the flow of information, moving it across systems and apps. Hence, robotics can rearrange multiple information systems to the actual needs of a business process.
The role of AI in robotics
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term that covers everything related to making machines smarter, including Robotics. We think of mechanisms as only able to do specifically defined tasks, as they originally were programmed to do so. On the other hand, AI allows machines to understand, learn, and act on their own based on the received information. Machine Learning (ML) is the most popular type of AI technology. It is a subset of AI that can self-learn and get smarter without human intervention.
In business, its use is often related to the analysis of big data – large data sets collected from millions of sources, which AI-powered tools can process to detect patterns and trends, anomalies and threats, and produce predictive analyses to forecast future tendencies.
As we wrote earlier, RPA is particularly useful for handling routine tasks, but what if some interruption or unexpected event occurs. Software robots alone wouldn’t be able to handle this as the task requires some knowledge work, a bit of common sense, and the capability to make judgments. Such work demands human intervention unless robotics uses AI technology.
AI tends to emulate human performance by learning, coming to its own conclusions, understanding complex content through object and speech recognition. Thus, it can accomplish complex goals. Advanced ML-based systems coupled with Robotics tools can engage in natural dialogs with users and replace people with the execution of nonroutine tasks. Think of ML as the brain that makes decisions, whereas robots are the hands.
Solving problems, driving efficiencies
AI and ML enable businesses to make the best use of limited available data by driving meaningful insights and improve decision-making. RPA tools backed by AI & ML can drill down into fields that need attention and suggest actions on reducing or preventing problems associated with changes in customer demand or distribution. AI data processing capabilities are ubiquitously used in the customer service sphere for hyper-personalization of the online buying experience. Some examples where we can see these evolutions include:
- Logistics: real-time fleet optimization for destination and delivery capacity
- Car Insurance: millions of miles of analysis of hard braking for auto policy pricing
- Medicine: collation of massive volumes of clinical data for optimized pharmaceutical trials
- Cybersecurity: detection of suspicious activities and prevention of intrusions
- Customer service: analysis of customer-facing processes to tailor the experience to each shopper
Applications powered by AI robotics
You may already be interacting with AI-driven tools in many of your daily activities, even without knowing it.
Many of us are used to Googling different things dozens of times a day, and when typing your request, the search engine autofills a suggested search for you. This is the result of ML algorithm work based on data collected from millions of previous searches. Smart speakers rely on natural language processing and AI to provide the relevant answers. Intelligent thermostats and fridges use ML to find patterns in the way people behave to adjust home conditions automatically.
Chatbots are now widespread tools to help businesses in various industries interact with customers. You can learn how the AI-enabled chatbot solution developed by the ApexTech team helped our client automate administrative tasks while bringing customer service to the next level.
The data-driven ML technology signifies that it will evolve and improve further. Therefore, we could expect a new interface between companies and their consumers in just a few years.
Cooperative human-robot future
The human spark is and will remain essential to how knowledge work is managed. What is different is that technologies can now complete and support more effective knowledge tasks while simultaneously generating and capturing data that can enhance processes and eliminate inefficiencies.
The pandemic has served as an impetus for organizations to embrace the business benefits of intelligent RPA. The value of automated repetitive tasks has become evident in the face of an urgent need to engage customers digitally at scale.
AI means to the digital transformation what electricity has been to humanity in the past. Its disruptive power has colossal potential. Soon we will interact with digital products that will be increasingly smart to make recommendations on business workflow improvement, present options, and help make buying choices based on our preferences.
It may sound like a sci-fi movie where robotics takes our jobs and replaces the human labor market. But most studies suggest that the real future is more likely to belong to human-robot cooperation where we all work alongside intelligent machines. The cutting-edge AI-based robotics partnered with human counterparts can help businesses improve efficiency, reimagine operational models and deliver more real-time value. We are already starting to see these predictions come true – and it’s just the beginning.
Many organizations are yet to go through digital transformation, and if you need any help with your initiatives, our experts are just an email away. Contact us and find out how we can help you to unlock the digital capabilities.