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Come Off the COVID-19 Pandemic with a Digital Workforce

Mr Oliver Tian

Mr Oliver Tian, Director and Founder, Oliver Tian Associates (Singapore) and Honorary Advisor to APARA

Industry watchers had predicted that by 2020, 40% of large enterprises will have adopted Robotic Process Automation (RPA), up from less than 10% a decade ago.  Have we achieved this level of automation? Probably not. Those companies, including the smaller ones, who are not efficient and compete on price factors only, and not on creating value, are now facing the daunting task of managing its resources.  

Today, employees spend a portion of their time on mundane, repetitive tasks … and the current coronavirus outbreak has compounded the degree of inefficiency. Most of these tasks can easily be automated using “low code/no code” protocols, and digitizing the business operations by streamlining the cumbersome tasks to their digital workforce. By doing so, the human workers have more time to attain higher productivity and innovative work. The recovered time can bere-invested into career development and personal growth opportunities, making work more seemingly human.

Unprecedented disruptions wrought by the coronavirus pandemic have forced many businesses to speed up digitalisation and pivot operations online. The challenges and changes have further highlighted the importance of having a digital workforce. CoVID-19has activated the reset (reboot) button. It’s time for business leaders to re-build their business operations. Instead of operating status quo and waiting out the overwhelming impact, and for more or less, hiding the fear of automation, business leaders can take a close-up reflection on their business in the landscape and leverage digital technology as their competitive weapon.

The digital workforce is a combination of automated intelligence (AI) and human capabilities that help drive process efficiencies in the workplace.  These capabilities not only help human workers achieve higher productivity, but also allow them to focus on career development and personal growth opportunities – instead of doing repetitive tasks like generating reports that can be automated. The workforce of the future must embrace a degree of automated intelligence and an augmented digital workforce. Working inharmony with human, the digital workforce will require strong principles ofHuman-machine Collaboration (HMC).

Business leaders must find the respective pivots to their business models, as the world exits from the current pandemic. Those who wish to succeed must keep an eye on the market and be prepared to make a change.  

The details of how that change will impact the company will vary depending on the company and the industry. The fact remains that when the economy recovers, businesses must make changes.

However, a genuine pivot must allow for a fresh perspective on the company and prevents the business from being stagnant and outdated. Understanding the basics of pivoting is crucial before making rash decisions or planning corporate strategy. Pivoting the business is not only a matter of survival, but it must also help the business to thrive. It is time to find the digital version of whatever work that is being done in the past.  

The empirical question is: Can you deliver your product or service electronically?  

Businesses in the F&B sector have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, and many have transitioned to online delivery and, possibly mobile to-go orders.  Some business owners have taken things a step further by making it possible for customers to order supplementary groceries online along with their usual food requests.

In the retail sector, now is a great time to launch an e-commerce store with a 90-day trial. For service providers, such as fitness instructors or private tuition teachers, many have started to hold your regular classes virtually with a variety of online platforms. Others in the consultation services have also pivoted to virtual sessions.  

Real Estate agents have embraced a virtual presence, from doing 3D tours, Facebook Live and virtual walkthroughs, to even featuring homes on TikTok. My neighborhood food stores are banding up to offer pick-up services as well as home delivery. With everyone stuck at home, the demand for online services is higher than ever.  

When we awake from the current breaker, the business models will no longer be the same. Strong business leaders will have to digitize their business delivery models.  Working from home as a practice will stay and there may just be an over-supply of office real estate.

In the midst of evolving out from the currentCoVID-19 situation, successful business leaders will have taken to digital transformation to thrive and discovered their digitalized business models come with a higher degree of connectivity with customers and within the eco-system.  

Inadvertently, technologies such as AI andRobotics can be leveraged to augment the human capabilities in a multi-facet approach - from marketing to production to delivery and post delivery services. As a matter of fact, the business leaders will start to appreciate and understand how digital technologies can lend to their business expansion plans.

In tandem with Industry4.0, CoVID-19 looks set to renew business notions and embrace Workforce 4.0 (combining digital and human workforce) by leveraging AI and Robotics technologies to revolutionize business models.

AIBotics 2020 is a 2-Day Conference and Exhibition in August2020 with the theme “Augmenting the Human Potential.”  AI in Robotics has its footholds across a wide spectrum of industries and applications.  The conference brings together world-class speakers, thought leaders& end-users in the industry, as well as innovative solution providers.  Workshops and tutorials for hands-on learning experiences by experts are available on a third day.

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