In the current COVID-19 crisis, while it is critically important to automate back-office operations that are important to keep the lights on via Intelligent Automation, it is also equally compelling to go one step further and bring the bots to the fore to serve customers better while keeping employees safe.
What is a Humanoid Robot?
Humanoid Robots are essentially robots with the appearance, form and shape of humans, capabilities to interact and work with humans and human-tools to increase productivity. At a bare minimum, these humanoids today, can effortlessly do facial recognitions, detect certain human movements & gestures, and respond appropriately.
Humanoids are generally custom built for a specific purpose. For example, an industrial humanoid robot need not be convincing from an aesthetic perspective, but might need features like autonomous navigation etc. On the other hand, humanoids in a non-industrial world like the hospitality industry, for example, will have to appear impressive and more human-like apart from having interactive and functional features built into them.
Relevance of Humanoids today
While the current capabilities of humanoids are quite finite, the outlook towards humanoids is now slowly changing with more organizations warming up to adopting Intelligent Automation to cope with the current pandemic crisis. Going forward, with increased focus on AI and other such cutting-edge technologies, humanoids will evolve quickly.
Human(oids) in the loop for Automation
We are all aware that the human-in-loop concept in automation plays a vital role in handing-off to a bot or taking over from a bot for activities involving judgement and cognition. Similarly, frontend activities are mostly done by human workforce before they pass on the baton to the digital workforce working for the back-office operations.
The current unprecedented situation is an ideal time to test humanoids – end-to-end – across the entire process chain. Let’s see how the “Humanoid-in-loop” works:
Step 1: The humanoid interacts with customers/ end-users, takes taking information from them. This could be digital information keyed in by customers or could be in the form of photographs taken by the humanoids or physical documents scanned by the humanoid.
Step 2: The humanoids then send them to back office digital worker queues for processing.
Step 3: The digital workers then further process the information using OCR, AI/ML technologies and update the appropriate IT systems and complete the processing.
Helping during the pandemic…
As mentioned, the current pandemic is a classic scenario where a humanoid can be effectively put in use to make sure that business operations run smoothly while ensuring employee safety. One such example is humanoid bots being deployed at airports for passenger screening, recording traveller information and so on.
- After customs or during immigration, there could be “humanoid counters” that perform thermal screening, take photographs, scan passports using in-built capabilities.
- This information can be instantly recorded and sent to central servers for tracking and monitoring.
- At the end of the screening, the humanoid can print a slip which can be shown at exit gates/ customs/ immigration as proof that passenger has gone through evaluation process.
- Further processing of the information sent to the central servers can be done using RPA bots using OCR and AI technologies and reports can be sent to the health department.
Humanoids here would be equipped with in-built devices like scanner, camera, thermal screeners, sensors backed with AI capabilities and software for communicating and sending data to servers.
- Person-to-person contact is completely avoided
- Easy scaling in face of dearth of people
- Authentic information recorded and transmitted instantly and digitally, and there absolutely no paper work.
- The information collected can be also be used further, for triggering analytics, actions as appropriate.
This is just one situation dangerous for humans, where humanoids can be substituted. However, they can be relevant and leveraged even otherwise – many sectors such as BFSI, hospitality, retail etc. are using humanoids to interact with end customers. For example, banks for having customer conversations to give details around status of processing w.r.t loans, cards, accounts etc. Similarly, hospitality industry for taking orders and serving the customers in restaurants and so on.
Moving forward, we may well see back-office digital workers joining forces with the frontline humanoids as a “collaborative workforce” to add more value across the end-to-end process chain, acting as a game changer in an organization’s digital transformation journey.
Let the force be with us!
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