- What within the workforce actually makes sense to automate?
- How can these roles be effectively integrated and modernized?
- Does the cost of investing in this relatively new technology make for a good business case?
Automation is on the way, but not in the way you think it’ll happen.To provide a proof of concept that seems to answer all of the above queries, lets take a look at Baxter (see Fig 1). Baxter has been developed to be an easy to train, easy to interact with, assembly line ‘worker’. One of the key highlights is that Baxter is collaborative and inexpensive: it can be integrated into an existing problem as a simple, partially-autonomous solution. Yet it’s still hard to justify this purchase for a factory when humans really do a better job and have a cheaper startup cost. Automation in this article will seem synonymous with machine learning or artificial intelligence. As we progress forward into the development of stand alone machines, I believe these two fields will converge at an even greater rate than they are now. From a business perspective, an automated, trainable, tireless machine is nothing short of a miracle.
Fig 1: Baxter, an automated, trainable, tireless machine.
- Conversica: Automated, data-driven AI that converses with customers to generate up-sells and leads
- xiQ: Utilizing market data and business intelligence to determine when to best connect with potential clients or engage with existing ones
- IBM’s AlchemyAPI: Utilize data to suggest for, and predict, customer behavior
- And a few hundred other CRM type companies that are working with data sets to leverage advantage in the sales space
The short answer to “How close is the future of true automation?” is we don’t know. We are our own worst enemy in this case. Until we can overcome those economic barriers, we will continue to be stuck in the early R&D stages. If you want to stay current on vehicle automation, self driving cars, or sales automation, I’d suggest checking out xiQ’s digests ; daily round ups of the web’s most relevant articles and content. Also, as this article was being written, Forbes published another great piece discussing IoT and AI. Read it here. Conner Spears is a customer experience and engagement manager working at xiQ, a platform for curating personalized business intelligence/market research on demand. xiQ uses multiple forms of AI to curate articles from across the web, and have just recently paired up with IBM Watson to be even better. www.xiqinc.com