The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt accelerated the use of automation both in our day-to-day lives as well as from a business standpoint. Businesses across verticals have been quick to adopt or augment their technology infrastructure to meet the requirements that the new normal demands.
In fact, technology has grown to the extent that it has almost become synonymous with businesses, especially those that specialise in providing innovative, cutting-edge solutions that will automate jobs that previously required immense manpower and resulted in additional cost. AI is serving businesses as a support tool rather than replacing human intelligence and integrity. When it comes to functions that can be automated, such as supervising, security, etc., AI has been instrumental in optimising the human resources as well as the cost involved, enabling businesses to increase efficiency.
The shift from knowledge-based economy to automation-based economy
The importance of knowledge and technology has grown manifold since integrating technology in almost every alternative field. A knowledge-based economy is one wherein knowledge is the key asset. Faster creation of new knowledge and improved access to various knowledge constitutes the main resource for higher efficiency and competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy. A knowledge-based economy comprises four steps: collecting data, deriving information, creating a knowledge base, and making decisions.
However, given the rate at which data is getting created whether it's an online or offline environment it's really difficult for human resources to identify information and gain knowledge on top of it.
With the limit of the human brain to process every information, we are perceiving an automation-based economy that is likely to prevail for the foreseeable future. An automation-based economy, in a nutshell, is one automation and AI further segregate the data available for analysis to the extent beyond human capability. Integration of AI helps firms with competitive data analysis helping them stay ahead of their competitors. From production to customer relationship management, artificial intelligence plays a vital role in transformation.
How has AI helped offline businesses?
The paradigm shift from being a knowledge-based economy to an automation-based economy has not only helped online businesses. Still, it has paved the way for accelerated growth among offline businesses. According to a report by Forrester, the Indian retail market was valued at the whopping US $883 billion and has been projected to grow further.
When we talk about the retail market, it comprises both online as well as offline stores. While the online stores have already put AI to work, a majority of the Indian retail market remains offline despite the pandemic forcing many of them to shift online. According to the IMF, India's GDP is expected to reach US $4 trillion by 2024-25 at the current growth rate. If we analyze the impact of automation on the economy, increased automation is certainly beneficial in several ways.
For instance, let us consider the example of retail stores. When we talk about online businesses they have the luxury of collecting the entire customer's journey data and process it for knowledge base creation which in turn assists in better decision making. Online businesses are capable of collecting the entire customer journey through different software cookies and process it through powerful AI tools.
On the other hand, a large part of the real-world business is offline business, (let’s consider retail shops). The data collection at these offline businesses is human-driven or through traditional technologies for example footfall calculation (through sensor), sales data, etc.
But can we collect the data about demography analysis along with footfall, can we identify the premium customer at the store (before he buys anything), can we perform planogram analysis so that we can better know about our customer’s preferences? Can we know the queue time? The answer is yes, through the state of art video analytics technology many companies are making it possible.
Increased efficiency of operations
Large-scale adoption of AI-based technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) will help increase efficiency and security while saving time and cost. AI, which was once feared to lead to joblessness, is no longer viewed as the enemy as businesses, employees, and consumers have understood that it can be used to create more jobs in the market, especially for developers and intelligent automation architects. Newer jobs and increased efficiency will no doubt increase economic development in the years to come.
So far, automation leads to efficiency in production at the backed and improved customer experience on the front end. More and more adoption of AI will help create high-skilled jobs leading further to more economic development opportunities.
Better user experience
AI is now increasingly being used by public and government sector undertakings to ensure the accelerated digital transformation of human touchpoints. The integration of intelligent automation enhances user experience, which the human workforce lacks to a certain extent. Reduced paperwork and better user experience, in turn, will improve human life leading to economic growth and development. However, it’s also important to remember that while AI can increase efficiency and optimise cost, it cannot match the human brain. AI and humans working in tandem will be the ultimate progress for humankind.
The article is authored by Atul Rai, Co-Founder & CEO of Staqu. Views expressed are personal.
First Published: IST