By Bridget Karlin, CTO and VP of IBM GTS Technology, Innovation, and Automation
Automation isn’t new. But automation infused with AI is, and it has quickly become the newest disruptor in the technology industry. AI combined with automation is enabling transformation in every business. It is informing the way companies design, build, and deliver their products and services. From robots performing surgery to autonomous vehicles, AI-infused automation is causing CEOs to re-think how automation can be used as a competitive advantage. From inception, automation has been changing the way the world works long before the PC. It sparked a revolution where people learned to work smarter and not harder.
Just look at the automotive industry. Before the internet or computers, Henry Ford realized that if cars were ever to replace the horse and buggy and change the way we travel, he had to find a faster way to build them. So, he created the assembly line, which automated many of the tasks, revolutionizing not only the auto industry, but manufacturing as a whole. According to Ford, as cars rolled down the assembly line, it went from 12 hours to build a car to just about 90 minutes. Beyond the efficiency, the automation resulted in making the car more affordable. The price of the Model T went from $850 to less than $300. Ford now had the inventory, the scalability, and a price point that the masses could afford.
Fast forward to today and apply that same thinking to the world of IT. The success of a business is intertwined with its IT performance. As systems, services, and advanced technologies become more integrated, the IT environment has become increasingly complex. CIO’s face a range of challenges:
- New business realities.
- Downtime is not an option. We expect our technology to always work.
- Need to respond to new digital operating models.
- New economic realities.
- As technology does more, people expect technology to drive down the bottom line.
- New technology and data realities.
- Companies are sitting on a mountain of data that could provide insights and competitive advantages if they knew how to both access and digest it.
To address these realities, automation with AI and other technologies like blockchain and the cloud have quickly become business necessities. According to a recent IBM Institute of Business Value report, corporate executives surveyed categorize more than half of their organization’s automation as basic process automation — software bots executing predetermined tasks, such as pulling data from a standardized document and inserting it in a digital database. We’re already seeing that today, with over 1,000 companies utilizing our IBM Services Platform with Watson to take advantage of automation.
Take, for instance, Sysco, the world’s largest foodservice distributor, that performs 150,000 deliveries every day. Any IT downtime is a huge problem since it can cause delivery delays, and many times what is on those trucks will be served for lunch or dinner that day. To improve IT performance, Sysco applied IBM’s Platform Dynamic Automation to help 4,000 servers rapidly process huge amounts of data, as well as identify and fix problems. In doing so, Sysco has reduced critical issues by more than 89% and reduced average time to solve issues from 19 hours to 28 minutes. Another example is Walmart which can now track fruit transported from the farm in Mexico to the store in the US in 2.2 seconds using IBM blockchain. Tracking this shipment used to take almost seven days, making it difficult for the stores to accurately manage inventory and efficiently serve customers.
From electricity to the internet, game-changing technology has often prompted questions about the future of work and the impact they have on jobs. Most often those technologies have a net positive impact on employment. Automation is no different.
As with any technology that will have a positive and lasting impact on an industry, one of the keys to maximizing the benefit of new innovations lies in preparing more people with the skills needed to partner effectively with those systems. AI and automation are creating new partnerships between man and machine. This is man with machine working to deliver higher value, not man versus machine. So, the question isn’t just, “Will automation create jobs?” It’s, “How will automation re-create jobs?” As automation combined with AI moves to the forefront of our industrialized world, it is poised to accelerate business transformation in today’s digital economy, allowing us to work smarter while enabling growth.
This post is sponsor content from IBM and was created by IBM and Insider Studios.