Time for a Robot Workforce

Time for a Robot Workforce

29 October 2020

Rethinking Robots

There are several reasons why robots are not more prevalent today, but cost isn’t one of them. In fact, the cost of a robot worker is not too far off from that of a human employee and may even cost less in the long run. Fuji Foo, Chief Digital Officer at Certis explains, “To date, most robots are designed to accomplish very simple tasks and hence, often seen to add more of a novelty factor than adding value. Many robots in the past also fail to perform in the operating environments that they are meant to work in.”

While analysts are trying to piece together the picture of our world post-COVID-19, one thing is clear – robots can play a pivotal role. In the foreseeable future, movement and distancing restrictions look set to define our new normal. Clearly, robots are immune to the coronavirus and can be disinfected fairly quickly and be back at work without quarantine. So what’s stopping businesses from building a robot workforce now?

“Robots are only one part of equation. What is imperative now, is the need for organisations to rethink how man-machine collaboration will drive desired business outcomes.” 

A robot, or digital workforce will add immense value but the roles and functions of robots must be designed in the context of the entire operations – much like how we scope the roles and responsibilities, workflows and processes of human employees. That is the key.”

- Fuji Foo, Chief Digital Officer at Certis

In commercial buildings and malls for example, robots can exist as a resilient first-line of service to customers, elevating human talent to deal with higher order problem resolution. It is possible to imagine a lobby that is entirely staffed by robots and other digital technologies. A visitor simply walks up to a digital worker to scan his QR code, granting him access, verified with facial recognition software embedded. The robot digital worker can also pre-alert his hosts that the visitor has arrived. Such high levels of efficiency and security do not compromise the customer experience, and may even enhance it given the ease and speed compared to normal visitor registrations.

As the visitor is about to leave the building – he realises he needs assistance to locate the way to his next destination in the vicinity. No problem. Digital workers don’t have to be devoid of the human touch. Equipped with advanced natural language processing, the robot can converse with the visitor providing him with directions. Or if he prefers, the robot can also easily be connected via video call to a human worker if the need arises.

“We foresee an urgent need to maintain a leaner workforce, protected from avoidable exposure to any lingering virus. So if the operational design is done right, robots and digitalisation can play a big part to help organisations evolve and see them through the new normal.”



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