Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics are terms used to describe machines with human-like abilities, or the simulation of natural intelligence in machines, that is programmed to learn and mimic the actions of humans.

While this often brings to mind the walking, talking, humanoid robots of science fiction, the reality currently is far more mundane. There are many ways that businesses are incorporating AI and robotics into business processes, and harnessing these technologies has become key in embracing digital transformation.

Driving strategy and growth

Despite the imagery conjured by the word ‘robot’, in business applications robotics, and the incorporation of AI, it looks very different. Robotics, particularly in the form of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is being used to improve business efficiency, as well as to drive business strategy and growth. RPA tools backed by AI can drill down into fields that need attention and suggest actions on reducing or preventing problems associated with changes in customer demand or distribution.

In addition, what was once considered to be next-generation, emerging technology, is now becoming increasingly mainstream. As an example, according to Gartner, by 2024, 50% of supply chain organisations will have invested in applications that support AI and advanced analytics capabilities.

Better, faster, more efficient

Robots excel at performing mundane, repetitive, and predictable tasks faster and more efficiently than humans. They do not require sleep or breaks, they do not make mistakes, and they can hugely improve efficiency in many areas. For example, a robotic process can automate sending out invoices, fetching the required data, sending the documents and allocating payments, automatically, on schedule. They can also enhance customer service by providing 24/7 support for common problems and challenges and can even analyse preferences to provide tailored recommendations such as what movie to watch next.

Where robots fail is in the ability to actually ‘think for themselves’. While AI allows machines to learn, they can only learn from the data they are given, and only within the framework for which they have been programmed. They have no emotions or ethics and will simply do what they have been programmed to do. An example of this is a customer service chatbot, which will get stuck in a loop if it is asked a question that does not fall within its script.

Harnessing AI & Robotics effectively for business

Customer service can be vastly improved using robotics, not only to deliver always-on support through virtual assistants and chatbots but by automating processes to speed up areas of business such as applications, invoicing and more. Communication is a key area in which AI can be of huge business benefit. In addition, businesses can leverage AI and robotics to improve the efficiency of operations and reduce costs.

The key is to harness data, analyse it effectively, and use this insight to deliver better services. This is also the key challenge, as the underlying data is often a problematic area for business to wrap their heads around. Your trusted IT and technology partner can help throughout the process, from identifying areas of the business that could benefit from robotics and AI to addressing the data and implementing solutions. This can help businesses build greater agility, minimise failures, decrease costs and improve productivity.

Next-generation technologies are the key to successful digital transformation, which in turn is critical to surviving and thriving in a changing business world. Rather than fearing technology and change, businesses should look to embrace it for the benefit of themselves and their customers. The right IT provider can be hugely beneficial in this regard.

By Amit Singh, Solutions Architect at In2IT Technologies.

Edited by Zintle Nkohla

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