Japanese ‘robot hotel’, Henn-na, which was until recently managed almost completely by a robotic workforce was in the news earlier this year for firing half its robotic workforce in favor of a more efficient human workforce. Four years of robot managed hotel operations led to the realization that robots didn’t respond well in untrained situations. For instance, the main robotic concierge could not answer basic questions about nearby places, and robots employed to deliver luggage would stop working in adverse climatic conditions. Until technology has sufficiently evolved such that it can handle ‘exceptional’ situations just as well a human, insightful automation initiatives will be those that serve to further ‘humanize’ business.
Understanding the type of activities involved in your business processes and how suitable each type of activity is for automation can lead to a more insightful approach to automation.
- Menial activities that are repetitive in nature and take away a human workers time from more meaningful activities become prime candidates to automate first. Such tedious activities include data collection, and predictable physical work. Even when automating these menial tasks, do build in the provision of exception-handling by a human should there be an exceptional situation such as a system error or a business-edge case.
- Activities that require a low degree of human judgement such as data processing can also be automated. For instance, mortgage brokers spend a large portion of their time verifying applications against scanned documents or running external checks. Automating such data processing activities can free up time for mortgage brokers so they can spend more time advising clients. When automating such activities requiring low degree of human judgement, provision for a contingency manual approach should the automation encounter a business or system exception.
- Use technology to aid decision making in activities that require a high degree of human judgement such as reviewing legal contracts or managing other humans including employees or customers. Technologies such as artificial intelligence can be trained to provide an initial analysis and a tentative predictive judgement, which can facilitate the human expert’s more comprehensive analysis thereby saving time and reducing costs.
- Make your customer offerings omni-channel such that a customer can directly reach a human representative at any time in their service journey. Don’t let your customers experience the pain of having to navigate a complex maze of automated questions before they can reach a human representative.
In conclusion, while automation is a well-intentioned goal, do so to further ‘humanize’ your business. Should you have an interest to learn how technologies such as leading low-code platforms, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence can be used to further ‘humanize’ your business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.