Industry Use Cases
A new age of industry and innovation promises to fundamentally shift the way that humans experience work and leisure, and redefine the ways we interact and connect with the things we create. All around us automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics are being adopted across an increasingly broad set of verticals.
Sometimes, it seems as though some people are fixated on the possibility that automation will bring about Terminator-esque doomsday scenarios. In reality, automation won’t anthropomorphize computers or machines, but it will change our workforce and the skills organizations will seek in workers and the types of jobs that will be available, blue collar as well as white collar.
There are many dialogues addressing the changes we expect automation to produce and how it will affect our workforce. There’s also discussion of whether or not we’re prepared for this new world (we’re not). The bottom line conversations are about the bottom line, and how automation will undoubtedly streamline many business processes, initially manufacturing and shipping, with others to come. This transformation is not a gloom and doom situation if we prepare properly for it. So assuming we do, where do we start?
For Globetouch, the place we start is with the Internet of Things (IoT). Much of this new workforce automation will rely on connectivity and network reliance. The devices that are part of this automation movement will need constant network access. After all, truly impactful analysis requires real time data from a wide-reaching network.
Globetouch has partnered with CloudMinds, which creates advanced AI engines in the cloud to advance its mission to “make robots smarter.” Together, the companies will develop cloud-based applications and platforms that help control robots with rapid motions. This will have great implications for the development of autonomous driving, factory robots, shipping port sorting robots and other AI initiatives.
As costs to integrate previously unconnected equipment and personnel into the Internet of Things continue to decrease opportunities to optimize the workforce through connectivity increase. Currently, organizations throughout the world struggle to paint a complete picture of their workforce’s field operations. IoT and unified global connectivity enable management success with strategy and tactics as they are able to access and use data on their employees and inventories activities. More importantly, IoT analytics and business logic rules allow managers to let a system make resource allocation decisions for itself. Schedules can be automated, maintenance teams can be dispatched, and personnel can be rerouted in real time—all using the data provided by the network nodes.
With GFusion, Globetouch tackled a particularly daunting workforce management challenge with one of our clients in Ghana. The Ghanaian Ministry of Tourism large field force operation had minimal standardization of data input and management. Their paperwork intensive processes for levy collection and tracking were poorly integrated and required significant manual intervention. Globetouch provided a mobile based tax collection application, which was built on the GFusion platform, and provided real-time workflow optimization and data integration. GFusion allowed the tax collecting operation to develop and track meaningful KPIs and automated decision making processes. The keys to GFusion’s efficacy are contextual, real time data analysis, and custom business logic rules. These rules use data parameters such as agent location, capabilities, and availability to push out automated schedules and directives.
The value of end-to-end IoT interoperability is strengthened by the GControl Management Center, which ties together the connectivity and analytics layers of the stack. GControl allows operators and enterprises to manage, monitor and control their customers’ connected devices via a streamlined portal. This portal allows the connectivity of these workforce elements to be displayed and managed in a robust dashboard. The full stack solution of GFusion, GControl, and GConnect fuses the global connectivity with device management and IoT analytics, offering Gconnect as an MdM solution that works seamlessly with the connectivity pipeline.
Here’s how the platform implementation unfolds:
In the case of Ghana’s Ministry of Tourism, the organization’s leadership faced vastly disparate data entry systems. The automation of the form filing process eliminated the need for an extensive, inefficient paperwork management operation. More importantly, the connection of the collection agents to the network provided nodes into which the analytics platform plugged into the ticketing system.
Where manual system intervention was once required to dispatch, reschedule, or reroute collection trips, the GIS dashboard shows the GFusion enabled business logic rules in action—scheduling trips and adjusting routes based on real time data.
For any workforce automation system, the data is internalized by the system in real time to determine the optimal behavior of its agents. These are the steps:
i) Input the current contextual info: Where is the Agent? What Is the Agent supposed to do?
ii) Integration of this data into a central analysis node
iii) Comparative analysis with historical data of the agent’s behavior at the network nodes
iv) Assignment of tasks and application of defined rules based on custom parameters, such as the fit of an agent to a task
In sum, the system dispatches individuals to their tasks and adjusts those allocations on the fly far faster than a system in which, essentially, a human is the central node and paperwork is the only connection to the rest of the network.
This improvement inefficiency is enhanced by edge computing applications of the platform. Moving the processing power to the edge of the network makes it easier to make improvements based on the actionable insights of the analytics. The critical value add of Gconnect is the ability for businesses to push further to the edge in regions where cell connectivity isn’t cost effective otherwise.
This increase in speed provides numerous opportunities to shift the maintenance deployment model for utility companies. An internet service provider, for example, can build this analytical structure into their routers, using them as network nodes to trigger maintenance deployment before it is requested. This allows the customer service department to begin their response to issues before they are even identified by the user.
A recent Pew Research Center study suggests that in the short run, the US may see a net displacement of jobs as low skilled workers in manufacturing and shipping are replaced by robots and virtual applications. This will likely occur temporarily as the net benefit of the automation revolution takes it’s time to be realized in the form of new jobs and career paths. It might be decades before we can truly understand the demands of fully automated factories and distribution centers and properly educate ourselves to provide the creative functions that machines cannot replace.