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The robot revolution is now

The robot revolution is now

Fully automated machines now tackle all sorts of tasks: From organizing big warehouses to personal solutions. But how will they enhance our daily lives?

If you haven’t met a robot yet - you will. It’s now commonplace to walk into a fast-food restaurant and make your way to an automated customer service touch screen that will take your order, process it, receive your payment, and place you in a queue until your food is ready to go. That machine you interacted with is a robot, sure it’s not that sci-fi humanoid that we all envision, but it is the real deal and they are finding their way into the workforce everywhere. They now come in so many shapes and sizes to choose from to best suit your needs, be it interactive in customer service, or an active role in the retail, travel, hospitality, health, supply chain, and logistics industries. This new breed of machines is here to stay and assist our day-to-day optimising our work out-put, instead of grinding out daunting tasks. Let’s get used to the idea of integration between man and machine during this transition of existing closer together.

In this post, we’ll explore the increased need for robotics and artificial intelligence systems to help us out during the COVID-19 pandemic and in almost every imaginable work-life function and day-to-day efforts after this historical mark.

Why do we need robots now?

The disruption the pandemic has made many fearful of a world without much human contact, a decline in service quality, or help while in physical shopping spaces. But that all changed when robots and AI were proposed to reshape and adapt our work guidelines and behaviours - for the better! Businesses, institutions, organisations, and governments around the world are now willing to solve problems with the use of robotic and AI systems. Luckily over the years, the integration of various platforms based on these evolving machines has been introduced into household markets and businesses willing to adopt early. Admittingly, we could use the technological power from our robotic counterparts to help build a better world together, with this cutting edge technology.

A robot with a friendly user interface

We’re well into our first steps with the next level of human experience with automated machines during COVID19 times. With steady advancements in innovation and costs becoming more accessible, high interest for robotics and AI systems during the pandemic period has been called upon to help out[1]. A boom in machines has been demanded by the world market to fit the ‘new normal’[2] narrative and upgrade operations on an automated and healthy level.

Let the robots help you

Imagine your customer tasked, on a cold rainy day, to hunt for their favorite peanut butter brand because an app or service won’t deliver to their home. They’ll have no choice but to go to the physical store space to get it - a supermarket. They hop into their driverless car, put in the coordinates of their closest grocery store, and off they go. Remember, it’s cold and rainy, so the car scans the temperature and regulates it while they cruise comfortably. They arrive in the time estimated by the GPS as the voice-assisted vehicle pleasantly pronounces “You have arrived at your destination”. They hop out and walk over to the cart rack to scan their club card to be recognized so that one is released for their use. They then stroll on over to the door where they are then facially scanned by a laser that automatically opens to their presence to commence their personalised customer journey.

A robot being used in a retail environment

A small, one meter and a bit tall robot, weighing roughly forty kilos, and wearing a space-age outer layer with a touch screen for a face by the name of Bo then makes a beeline to the customer’s direction and asks in a cheerful voice “Hi, I’m Bo - How may I help you today?” They then greet the little robot and ask him “Do you know where my favourite peanut butter brand is located? Are there any still in stock? I know they’re quite popular”. Bo registers this information, uploads it, and immediately reads through shared information scanned by Mim. Mim is a fully-autonomous service robot that gives retailers unprecedented, real-time, instant access to accurate, relevant store data and feeds it to Bo. It is able to determine the stock and price of all items in the supermarket in real-time - including the sought after peanut butter brand.

Bo happily replies “Yes, we do have your favourite peanut butter brand in aisle 5, please follow me”. The friendly robot proceeds to lead the delighted customer directly to the location of the peanut butter brand and prints out a 10% discount coupon because new stock is coming in soon. And it knows that thanks to Mim’s great shelf health skills! Bo then asks “Is there anything else I can help you with?”, they reply “No, thank you”. Bo then finalises with the happy client “I’ve sent a great peanut butter swirl recipe to your email to make at home. We’ll be sure to have more peanut butter in-store for your next visit. Stay dry and see you next time!” and off it goes to assist another customer.

With a full cart, they make their way to finalise their purchase at the automated check-out counter and leave the supermarket in just a few minutes via quick debit from their bank account. No hassles and no awkward social interactions with employees who don’t really know where everything is, if it’s even in stock, or when it will be on shelves. All of this possible with robots and artificial intelligence in multiple seamlessly natural interactions - from start to finish.

Technological singularity now!

The scenario laid out above is very real and happening right now. Robots like Bo and Mim are carefully designed and engineered to serve your customers’ service needs, stock count, and planogramming to fundamentally free your staff from tedious, monotonous, hazardous, or daunting repetitive tasks. Human energy, time, and focus can be better suited in the art of their work while robots take care of the heavy lifting, provide valuable store data, and even greet customers to enhance their overall experience in two fundamental ways:

  1. Assimilation - As time presses forward towards the future, undoubtedly so will humanity and our technological creations. Robot and AI technology will continue to grow and evolve to a point where people and machines become fully integrated. A co-dependent relationship that relies on one another to operate or function in a more efficient manner to our benefit. As Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ Head of Innovation, elegantly puts it, “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use automation to help our customers enjoy a faster and smoother journey through the airport and beyond. These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate. In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.”[3]
  2. Modularity - With a wide range of individual uses, robots are already very capable of singlehandedly executing their tasks. By expanding their systems through modulation, they become flexible and versatile to be paired with other robots or AI platforms to work together with your employees on multiple autonomous indoor operations. “For us, in-store positioning is the basis for many other applications. At the same time, we are further expanding our multichannel strategy by combining the best of the digital and analog worlds”[4], states Sonja Moosburger, managing director of MediaMarktSaturn’s N3XT Innovation Unit.

A robot in an airport environment

Empower business with robotics and AI

Introducing robots and AI technology in a subtle yet impactful way will ease your customers and staff into a new reality - one that involves them engaging and interacting with machines. This will eventually make your clients and employees conditioned into accepting that robots are here to stay and will grow, evolve as time progresses, and become more advanced at their jobs and services. This empowerment of business through innovative technology will lead your customer journey to new heights with 3 new business revolutions to how you operate to service and/or provide for them.

  1. Recreate in-store experience - With a Bo & Mim robot working for you in perfect unison, you will provide a revolutionary in-store customer service experience that will have customers coming back for more. This will also provide you with a unique competitive edge through valuable in-store data to leverage against the growing e-commerce marketplaces.

  2. Personalise all customer service points - Through strategically positioning the new support robots, they will have fast and convenient access to consumers who need their help while offering direct feedback on anything they can need through an all-in-one robotic customer care network. In return, you obtain strong data sets of customer behaviour, tastes, and desires.

  3. Delight customers post-sale - Once customers have been served by robots, their desires and tastes will be acknowledged. The robots, having recognized their preferences, can then send that info back to promotional campaigns for personalized promotions and ad targeting.

The time is now!

Coronavirus triggered a launch of a unique global experiment into why, how, and where to insert robots into industries across the board and into our daily lives. Businesses around the world appear more willing than ever to allow automated robots to do work once done by humans. In response to this demand, there are more robot makers offering products, solutions to problems, and custom fitted workers to companies big and small. Successful performance in today's fast-changing, volatile, data-rich market environments depends on constant adaptation in a self-tuning way of strategy and organization.

Get in touch now to discuss how we can help.

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  1. National geographic (2020) - “The pandemic has been good for one kind of worker: robots
  2. Johns Hopkins Medical (2020) “The new normal and coronavirus
  3. British Airways (2019) - “British Airways trials robots to guide customers through the airport
  4. BotsAndUs (2020) - “MediaMarktSaturn explores BotsAndUs robotics solution as an engine for real timestore data and insights