The Rise of the Robots

Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation have gained a rapidly expanding foothold in the workplace, faster than many organizations ever expected. While companies are increasingly using these technologies to automate existing processes, true pioneers are radically rethinking work architectures to maximize the value of both humans and machines. They are blazing new trails to more effectively organize how we work and redefine our skill sets, career paths and professional possibilities.

Robotics is not only a research field within AI and machine learning (ML), but it is a field of application, one where all areas of artificial intelligence can be tested and integrated to reach a final result. AI brings intelligent behavior to robots so they can provide services to humans in unpredictable and changing environments, which could mean in your home, a hospital, your work place or anywhere around you. Through AI and ML, robots are getting increasingly sophisticated at doing what humans do, but more efficiently, more quickly and at a lower cost.

Following are just a few examples of how different industries are leveraging robotics:

  1. Improving healthcare outcomes

Technology applications and AI apps encourage healthier behavior in individuals and help us more proactively manage a healthy lifestyle. AI is already being used to more quickly and accurately detect diseases such as cancer, especially in its early stages.

Google’s DeepMind Health is working in partnership with clinicians, researchers and patients to solve real-world healthcare problems. AI can help clinicians take a more comprehensive approach to disease management, better coordinate care plans, and help patients better manage and comply with their long-term treatment programs. Robots also have the potential to revolutionize end-of-life care, helping people remain independent longer, reducing the need for hospitalization and care homes.

  1. Increasing retail growth and customer satisfaction

Robotics can be infused into every stage of the retail value chain to fuel innovation and sustainable growth. From logistics and supply chains to back-office operations and retail advertising to in-store, customer-facing experiences, robotics can help boost top and bottom-line outcomes. This is why many online retailers are developing robotics systems that are user-individualized for customers at the front end and business users at the back end.

Combining AI, ML and analytics with robotics also drives customer engagement and satisfaction to the next level. Sensor features look to analyze customer count, path-tracking, behaviors, attention spans and emotions. The customer scoring system spots unhappy customers and uses their feedback to take corrective actions.

  1. Boosting logistics and supply chain productivity

Robotics has already transformed distribution center operations by streamlining order picking with incredible speed and accuracy. The new generation of robotics, automation tools and technologies have the capability to support zero-defect logistic processes to drive new highs in productivity. For example, retailers who integrate robots into their supply chains realize sizeable savings by decreasing stock-out shortages, and losses and shrinkage due to administrative errors. Beyond retailing, any industry that is highly dependent on supply chain logistics can tap robotics to gain an invaluable new level of workforce flexibility. The ultimate opportunity is to move valued personnel from repetitious tasks to functions that enrich customer relationships and expand organizational revenue.

  1. Delivering efficient and scalable business processes and IT services

Robotics can dramatically increase the efficiency and scalability of business processes and IT service delivery. In fact, Equinix is a perfect use case for how to leverage robotic process automation (RPA) to increase efficiency and scale when deploying IT services and implement business processes across large, distributed enterprises. In his recent blog, Equinix CIO Milind Wagle detailed how his global IT organization identified opportunities to use RPA to automate processes that are largely repetitive. According to Wagle, “This translates to time given back to our employees to do higher-value work.”

For example, in the marketing space, Wagle’s IT team has automated the generation of customer-specific sales insights and executive presentations that were previously created from disparate data sources and manual processing. The new RPA-based process now enables the marketing and sales teams to better engage their customers and prospects, providing tangible value to Equinix’s business. Between the scale-enablement and time savings, the Equinix marketing team has eliminated more than 700 hours of manual processing per month.

Milind discusses some of Equinix’s other leading AI projects in the CIO article, “AI-powered data analytics: Inside this transformative trend.”

Interconnection: putting the intelligence in AI

As with most digital technologies, AI’s success is dependent on direct and secure interconnection among the systems, applications and machines that support it. Proximate, low-latency connections among robots, RPA systems and users enable faster AI and ML processing and analytics. In the end, this means more value for businesses, and a better way of working for all of us.

Read the Platform Equinix® Vision paper.