Quick Wins in Enterprise Digital Transformation (yet often ignored) – Intelligent Automation

The modern workplace is seeing widespread usage of machines and automation. Enterprise digital transformation, Artificial intelligence (AI), and automation are changing the tide for businesses globally. This means a significant change in the work culture as employees will have to acquire new skills and adapt to the advanced capabilities of machines. 

As per a recent study1 involving over 600 business leaders from 13 countries, more than 50 percent of respondents confessed to having already invested over $10 Million in intelligent automation projects. The AI market globally is presently growing at a CAGR of 40%, all set to touch $26.4 Billion by 2023.

AI,  along with robotic process automation (RPA), voice recognition, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML), is allowing businesses to blend automation with human capabilities successfully to create intelligent working environments. 

Automation is driving agility for businesses giving them the much-needed competitive edge over others with quick decision-making powers. Clearly, decision velocity powered by AI-driven insights gives you data supremacy to lead in a highly volatile market.

Making a case for Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)

When automation meets artificial intelligence, you get intelligent process automation to scale up your business. While it allows you to off-load routine, repetitive tasks, it empowers better guardrails for all your automation initiatives. It takes the uncertainty out of the picture and enables more personalized execution and processes.

Intelligent automation enhances the overall customer experience. The speed of response has often been a critical consideration while evaluating the customer experience. Intelligent automation is helping organizations meet customer expectations with personalization. Through customized offers, services, and content, businesses are acquiring and retaining customers.

What do the right IPA endeavors ensure?

  • Agile services due to a significant reduction in processing time
  • Greater flexibility and scalability for being able to operate round the clock with capabilities to scale up and down as required
  • Improved quality control due to greater traceability of events and instances and checks at different levels
  • Increased savings and productivity due to a high level of automation
  • Clear, actionable insights to predict and improve drivers of performance

While there is unanimous agreement on the benefits of intelligent automation, not everyone has leveraged these benefits across the organization. What you need is an enterprise-wide approach that promotes a new way of working.

Adding intelligence to the digital mix

A highly automated world does not focus on reducing the headcount but increasing its potential to do more in an agile manner to solve the business challenges of tomorrow. It relies on structured and unstructured data the company collects from the public domain and other stakeholders rather than depending on traditional methods.

Intelligent automation compels you to rethink key business processes. The sales and marketing team gets deeper segmentation to target and sell through advanced analytics. Those working to strengthen the supply chain get to improve production and distribution by leveraging technologies like cloud and analytics across the value chain. Planning and development teams, on the other hand, rely on data-driven insights to integrate them into product performance and boost innovation.

Alibaba Group2 is a classic example of what you can achieve with intelligent automation.

After making significant strides in eCommerce and retail, it has further revolutionized its business processes with its ‘Industrial Vision AI‘ solution for manufacturing and production. It allows the company to inspect raw materials thoroughly to detect minute defects, resulting in a 5X increase in production efficiency. Its automated warehouse is managed entirely by robots taking precision and efficiency to a whole new level.

Regardless of your goal, you need to create a strategic roadmap to align it with your business priorities. This is not possible unless you assess your digital maturity.

What is the role of IT in successful IPA transformation?

Intelligent process automation (IPA) is a melting pot of technologies enabling significant gains for businesses worldwide. IPA should not be confused with robotic process automation (RPA) as unlike RPA that performs repetitive, automated tasks based on predefined rules and inputs, IPA can understand the context, learn, and iterate to support informed decision-making using unstructured and structured data.

Those who have been able to get the full value of IPA have been the ones who have put IT leaders at the helm of their IPA endeavors. CIOs need to strengthen their core with IPA programs to support automation.

Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Assess the high-level value potential

You may start with help-desk requests since that’s where a significant amount of incidents originate. While tickets with low difficulty levels are resolved immediately, those with more complexity are often escalated to specialized teams. Determine how many such requests were handled the previous year, and by multiplying them by the average handling time (AHT) required, you can evaluate the value of this whole exercise.

For instance, an organization with a significant number of requests for password reset or access can leverage RPA bots that work across multiple applications via the user interface to automate ticket resolution and free up employee capacity. Reducing resolution times and a drop in costs associated with outsourcing help-desk support will thus improve performance and profits.

The effort required for these activities often varies. Everything needs to be evaluated critically from backups and patching to security audits and upgrades to understand the effort involved and the value you can garner by planning activities for automation.

  1. Identify the use cases best suited for IPA

Let’s consider the same example mentioned above. In order to automate incidents, organizations need to first identify the ones ideal for automation. An organization may be effectively logging incidents in detail, but due to the large numbers and complexities, support teams may not respond quickly and effectively.

AI can make sense of the chaos and understand the reasons behind the alerts. It may be trained to make appropriate recommendations or even make better decisions to ensure suitable responses.

  1. Elevate customer experiences with better service

AI and automation are changing the customer service landscape for every industry, from retail to aviation. Boeing has a fleet of passenger service robots that operate via sensors installed in their bodies. They are doing their best to reduce the manual work of cabin crews. Though experts argue a human perspective is required for these robots to do what humans can.

The key is to understand the power of automation and integrate it seamlessly into processes and workflows to complement human efforts and endeavors perfectly, as we did in the case of one of our clients Surge Transportation.

The company links shippers and carriers and has an automated tracking and monitoring system to assign loads. But the pricing and quotation were being done manually. This drained their resources, led to a huge turnaround time, and left a long log of emails, calls, and paper trails.

Trigent critically evaluated the complexities in its pricing mechanism to bring down the turnaround time to less than a second. Apart from 100% pricing accuracy, the company improved profits by 25%, revenue by 40%, and reduced the load processing time by 91%. With seamless carrier integration, the company now processes 4000 more loads per day.

Other use cases where AI and Automation are driving value

Cashier-less stores

Amazon is popularizing the concept of cashier-less stores with Amazon Go and Just Walk Out. Robotization of stores helps save operational expenses and gives shoppers a smart shopping experience.

Automated medical appointment scheduling

No-shows have been the cause of losses of over $150 billion a year for the U.S. healthcare system with every unused time slot costing individual physicians $200 on an average. No-shows also impact the health of patients since continuity of care is interrupted. IPA challenges traditional scheduling methods by ensuring error-free appointment scheduling based on the nature of the illness, the convenience of patients, and the availability of doctors and healthcare facilities. While patients get to choose a date and time for different health issues, follow-up appointments can be scheduled automatically along with reminders.

Automated supply chains

The ideal supply chain is where there is neither wastage nor out-of-stock scenarios. In tandem with machine learning, AI predicts demand based on location, weather, trends, promotions, and other factors. Revenue losses of up to $4Trillion have been caused due to supply chain disruptions following the pandemic with 33% attributed to commodity pricing fluctuations as per a report.

The automobile giant Toyota is using AI in its manufacturing environment to address waste control with its ability to predict when excess parts, products, and practices threaten to impede work.

Intelligent Automation is clearly the Winner streak!

The potential value of AI and automation is immense for different sectors and will vary depending on the type of industry, availability of abundant and complex data, use cases, and other factors. To get the most out of your automation initiatives, it is however important to tide over organizational challenges with the right mindset and approach.

Create impact and value with Trigent

Trigent with its team of technology experts empowers you to stay relevant and competitive. It is equipped with insights and intelligent solutions to dramatically boost your bottom line and improve customer engagement.

Allow us to help you grow your business and increase revenue with strategies and solutions that are perfect for you.

Call us today for a business consultation

References
1. https://www.analyticsinsight.net/intelligent-automation-accelerating-speed-and-accuracy-in-business-operations/
2. https://datacentremagazine.com/technology-and-ai/alibaba-group-adopts-ai-and-automation-singles-day

Effective Predictive Maintenance needs strategic automation and human insight

New-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of things (IoT), and predictive analytics are automating processes and augmenting human capabilities. Together, they set the stage for innovations in different sectors. Manufacturing is leveraging Predictive Maintenance (PdM) that takes preventive maintenance several notches higher.

PdM changes the approach from reactive to proactive maintenance, empowering enterprises to anticipate changes in the system and preemptively manage them. In other words, it helps enterprises predict and avoid machine failure and resultant downtimes. These analytics-led predictions optimize maintenance efforts and facilitate frictionless interdependence.

According to Deloitte, PdM increases equipment uptime by 10-20% and reduces overall maintenance costs and maintenance planning time by 5-10% and 20-50% respectively. With a CAGR of 25.2%, the global predictive maintenance market is set to grow from USD 4.0 billion in 2020 to 12.3 billion by 2025. The growth is fueled by the continued demand for reducing maintenance costs and downtime.

In the current Industry 5.0 environment, the role of maintenance has evolved from merely preventing downtimes of individual assets to predicting failures and creating synchrony between people, processes, and technologies. Predictive maintenance plays its part well, though it does bring along certain challenges that necessitate human intervention.

The PdM advantage

As mentioned earlier, predictive maintenance helps eliminate unplanned downtime and related costs. In an IoT-driven world where sensors, devices, systems, etc. are connected, McKinsey believes that the linking of physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion annually in economic value by 2025.

Maximized runtime also means better profits, happier customers, and greater trust. Predictive maintenance can ease logistics by choosing maintenance time slots outside of production hours or at a time when the maintenance personnel is available. It contributes to supply chain resilience, material costs savings, and increased machine lifespan.

However, PdM is only as good as the data it relies upon. Due to IoT technology, data comes from different sources and needs to be duly analyzed before it can be harnessed to make predictions.

The PdM limitations

We need to consider several elements to translate the information PdM provides into positive outcomes. For instance, depending on usage and maintenance history, it may advise you to replace a certain part or component. But this information can lead to further questions. You may need help in deciding which brand and vendor to consider, whether replacement of the component is a good option, or would it make better sense to replace the equipment entirely.

The forecast is often prescriptive and based on statistical models. While optimizing the operational efficiency of a particular line of business, PdM often fails to consider how it impacts other lines. For instance, when it suggests particular equipment is due for maintenance, it may not be able to offer advice as to where the production/processing needs to be shifted when it’s down. The value it offers will therefore be shaped by how decision-makers respond to predictive data.

Data quality and coverage are critical to make predictive maintenance work for the organization. For data to be suitably collected, integrated, interpreted, and transformed, we need dashboards, notification systems, and a bunch of other things to get started. This requires considerable research and planning to go into its implementation for it to start providing the insights we need.

The key lies in the way you respond

Decision-makers typically respond to predictive data with either hypothesis-driven or data-driven responses. The former stems from past business experiences and determines the plan based on a limited scope of response actions. Data-driven responses, on the other hand, aim to find solutions based on real-time business realities and consider several optimization scenarios to determine the way forward.

In contrast to hypothesis-driven decision-making, optimization ensures that all possible paths are explored and evaluated, relevant constraints are taken into consideration, and cross-functional interdependencies are looked into. A workable scenario based on business realities is thus created with no scope for purely intuitive responses.

Despite the analytics-driven insights, predictive maintenance is incomplete without human judgment. Smart decisions come from the ability to visualize the physical and financial outcomes before enforcing them. High-risk situations might arise, and thus they are best left to human discretion.

A predictive maintenance model for Industry 5.0

Manufacturers need clarity on several variables to understand the implications of failure. A false alarm triggered due to inaccurate predictions can result in a lot of unwarranted chaos and anxiety. However, a missed detection might often prove to be a costly error, sometimes resulting in loss of humans and property. Therefore, while understanding variables, they need to first know how often the variable behaviors occur on the factory floor. Strong domain knowledge along with solid data based on previous failures and scenarios is the key to understanding a machine.

Prediction accuracy will improve if we have adequate data on the behavior of machines when they are very close to failure. Only skilled personnel can determine this; some data sets, despite being important, are harder to collect and yet very critical for decision-making.

If we need data on a machine that breaks just once in a year or two, we need to work closely with machine makers who already possess a large pool of relevant data. Alternatively, we may choose to create a digital or a simulation model to create relevant data sets. The most expensive failures are usually the ones we never expect and hence relevant testing for different scenarios should also be considered.

Looking ahead

The way forward into Industry 5.0 is to create a predictive model that uses analytics, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conjunction with human insights.

Manufacturers are now relying on predictive models to facilitate smart manufacturing as they struggle with quality issues more often than machine failures. Unusual temperatures, random vibrations, are all telltale signs that a machine may be in dire need of maintenance. Simple data sets can be a good starting point as we scale up with the right predictive maintenance solution. But, in the end, it’s the human insight that can give predictive maintenance its winning streak.

Predict business success with Trigent

At Trigent, we are helping organizations benefit from Industry 5.0 We help them build value with predictive analytics and rise above maintenance challenges. With the right guidance, we help them foster the man-machine symbiosis to harness new levels of operational efficiencies.

Call us today for a consultation. We’d be happy to help with insights, solutions, and the right approach to predict better business outcomes.