AI, Robots and Knowledge Workers: The future of the workplace

5 minutes read

Key points:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance and is profoundly changing the workplace.
  • Rising adoption of robots across different verticals of end-use industries is increasing the productivity on both employees' and employers' end.
  • Huge investments towards the development of AI and robots by commercial enterprises has led to economic growth. 


"AI can be our friend." ~Bill Gates, co founder of Microsoft.

The way AI is enabling engagement of robots at the workplaces and they are working hand in hand with knowledge workers, one could not agree more to Gates. Day by day, the functioning of AI is getting more flexible. AI-programmed robots, voice-enabled computing, AI healthcare monitoring tools, etc. are being adopted at a drastic rate by different companies from multiple industries. Automating production processes with the help of AI produces quality products in a more efficient and speedy manner. If we have a look all around, almost all enterprises are integrating artificial intelligence with their product in order to add more value to their product and make the product more dynamic. During the next ten years, humans, AI and robots will define the new workplace, according to Gartner.


Five benefits of humans working together with AI and robots

1. Employee Satisfaction 

The idea of adopting robots at the workplace can make employees question their job security. Workers are mainly concerned about robots gradually robbing their jobs or replacing them. However, with the rise of robotics, this may no longer be the case. According to research conducted by Gartner, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020 but will create 2.3 million new positions in the same time frame.

Collaborative robots or co-bots are taking over traditional robots. Co-bots can work directly with humans because they have the necessary sensory technology and vision systems to understand their work surroundings. The co-bots function similar to an artificially intelligent colleague, who can safely work with their coworkers. Many employees spend the majority of their time on mundane tasks. These repetitive and lengthy tasks, such as routine data entry, make them feel undervalued. Thus, robots would reshape the roles of humans at their workplace. Industrial robots have actually driven labor productivity and economic growth. There is no doubt that robots will have a major impact on the workforce of enterprises globally. Robots support companies to maximize their employees’ skills. There is a lack of skilled workers across industries. Therefore, to do the jobs that need to be done, it is difficult to find enough suitable employees.

In many ways, robotics help companies to maximize their existing employee resources and to create a competitive advantage.

2. Higher productivity and lower costs

Pace and productivity matter. Using robots, one can achieve both and get a higher output for a lower cost. In other words, there has to be a positive return on investment for your business. Automating functions like material handling has also created a better environment for workers. Using AI and machine learning, systems can test hundreds of mathematical models of production and outcome possibilities. The results are more precise in their analysis while integrating new information, such as new product introductions or sudden changes in demand.

Analytics combined with machine learning will record and evaluate everything, including the beginning stages of quoting while establishing the supply chain. By integrating AI and machine-learning algorithms into procurement, strategic sourcing and cost management, the production process can be accelerated, thus meeting the production deadlines. The reliable, safe and easy-to-use collaborative robots of Rethink Robotics are helping manufacturers of all sizes. These automate dull, dangerous and dirty jobs while achieving greater productivity and higher quality.

Robots, when used correctly, do not replace but boost human labor.

3. Meeting Demands

Automation helps to fulfill the requirements in terms of capacity by stabilizing the level of productivity. It allows companies' resources to meet the customers' demands and employees to meet the companies' demands. Automation accelerates the production or development process as a whole. It helps the companies to accomplish tasks in the given time frames and also creates a scope to do more tasks they may previously have had to turn away. The increase in human-machine interactions can yield great business value for your organization today.  At Walmart, a task that takes employees one month to complete was completed in 24 hours. The task was done using sophisticated drones that fly through the warehouse, scan items and locate misplaced items. This is how AI helped Walmart to forecast demand more precisely with the help of automation. In another example of successful automation, the California-based finishing company Richmond increased productivity by a factor of four after they purchased their first robot painter. What’s more, Richmond achieved this success without having to fire a single human worker.

4. Quality Control

People cannot achieve the level of precision robots can — in a shorter time. Workers cannot work 24/7 and do quality control for numerous products while also maintaining the pace. While we talk about quality, it doesn't only mean doing quality checks all the time, enhancing the quality is equally important. Samsung’s artificial intelligence system Bixby is designed to make device interaction easier. Bixby is contextually aware and understands the natural language to help users interact with increasingly complex devices. Next, Samsung is planning to introduce the Bixby speaker to compete with Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

5. Employee Experience

A productive, positive employee experience has emerged as the new way of building a bridge between employer and employee. Employee engagement, one of the major factors in today's economy, is somehow declining these days. Gallup research shows that globally only 13% of employees are highly engaged at work. Employees are working more hours and taking fewer vacations. This can be reduced by involving robots in the workplace and balance workload. Employees expect not only a better-designed experience but new models of delivering work. A study by Oracle states that 93% of people would trust orders from a robot at work. Employees wish to work in an inclusive, flexible and fun environment.

To conclude, companies that adopt robots tend to deliver high-quality products using fewer resources. Robots are likely to take workers' productivity to another level. That translates into economic gain and GDP growth that everyone can benefit from. See, robots can be our friends.

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