How Businesses Can Avoid Fear of the Robot Army

SeaKnight By SeaKnight, 19th Mar 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/qpacegk5/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>IT & Ecommerce

Piece on how robotics can play a key role in business, if workers are primed to meet the change, and trained in value-add roles

The Future Need Not Be Scary

The press is increasingly full of headlines worrying workers that millions of jobs will be taken over by automatons, droids, software tools, chatbots and other digital creations. For any company looking to automate, the key to avoiding worker panic is education, training and helping them work smarter.

When that august institution the BBC News starts writing pieces with titles like “Adapt or die: How to cope when the bots take your job.” It is easy to imagine panic setting in among a workforce. All it takes is a chatbot here, an automated delivery drone there, and suddenly everyone’s job is under threat.

In reality, this is just the latest wave of technology sweeping all types of business, following on from desktop PCs, the internet, the cloud and smart devices. Most jobs have survived these waves, some have changed or evolved, and the technologies have also help create many more roles for people.

Introducing Bots to Your Business

Time for a spot of robots 101. Any business leader should be smart enough to see that sacking the customer support team and replacing it with an untested service chatbot is the classic recipe for disaster with a cherry on top.

All companies should explain how robots will help the business, improve the customer experience to help workers understand. At the same time, reskilling, training and preparing staff to work alongside their new robot friends.

All businesses should be looking at these technologies from a baby-steps perspective to find where the benefit is for the company, and for the customer or user on the other side. Once a use case and benefit has been established, develop, test (repeatedly) and launch, with constant measurements to see if success is likely. These are the same rules that have applied to any digital adoption past, present or future.

Startups are a different matter, they can use chatbots or AI tools from day one as a core part of their operations to save on hiring or service costs. Startups might disrupt existing businesses, but that’s what they do! The existing business will evolve defensive strategies (or buy the startup) and so the tech merry-go-round rolls on.

Looking for the Value in Droids

Robots in the workplace, from food preparation to helping operations at an airport or hospital are also nothing new. Whole factories have become robotic over the decades, It is only as the droids become more public like the Starship food delivery droid, flying drones and so on, that more people tend to notice.

As a business looking to deploy a robot, the primary issues are cost and integration. That burger flipper in America, massively expensive compared to people, also proved hard to integrate among the human workforce. A meat factory wants robots to replace humans, read the long list of obstacles.

These may be early days for such machines, but the business needs a strong value case for investing in any automaton, and then needs to consider how it integrates alongside people. This makes a case for robots on one side of the fence (stock picking, packaging, heavy lifting, construction tasks) and people on the other to add a personal or human touch.

Perhaps the tale of packaged food from big brands that look too perfect holds one key to keep the workforce happy. People in a process-led environment can add artistic touches, individual flourishes, perhaps even add small imperfections to make products look hand-made! With big business also looking to snap up more natural, individual or hand-crafted type products, there will huge growth in those sectors.

The Future is Robotic

Regardless of how your business plans its future, robots in some guise will be a part of it. They don’t even need to be expensive. Chatbots can provide the best customer service, 24/7, when well developed. Providers like SnatchBot make the development tools, analytics and smart features like natural language processing accessible, so a company can build its own bespoke bot.

Drones can be acquired off-the-shelf for testing or development, and tiny computers like the Raspberry Pi can add smartness to help companies build their own robotic systems to sell to other companies.

Yes, the robots are coming, but the businesses that take advantage of them will build larger more successful companies that need staff and people, so the human workforce isn’t going anywhere, just yet.

Tags

Business, Chatbots, Employee Engagement, Robotics

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author avatar SeaKnight
Tech writer focused on how it can change the world, for better or worse

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