Adam Bujak, Global Head of Intelligent Automation, Capgemini
The “augmented workforce” is a term we hear increasingly often these days, but the concept is hardly new. Think, for example, of the cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution. Scores of looms were driven not by the millworkers, who had other tasks, but by a series of steam-powered belts, resulting in a larger production output, higher quality, and new ways of working combining humans and machines.
However, as the cotton mill example shows us, it’s important not just that technology delivers benefits such as these, but that it does so together with the human workforce. That’s where AI can really take off – when you combine it with people, you create an outcome that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Capgemini has been developing a methodology that orchestrates tasks between people and machines. It comprises three steps:
• Identifying tasks that can be performed better and/or faster with AI
• Measuring the value that AI can add
• Designing human-in-the-loop solutions when the expected efficiency is not reached by machines alone.
The term “orchestration” is a good one, because implicit in it is a sense of fluidity – areas and occasions when, as it were, either people or technology will be playing solo, and other times and places when they will be playing together.
The algorithms we use gauge possible outcomes and use formulae to create human-in-the-loop solutions in which the process efficiency is better than a machine-only approach, but is achieved at a cost that is much lower than a person-only one. This truly is augmentation in action.
We’re working with clients to build an augmented workforce approach in functions including finance, the supply chain, human resources and contact centres, to name just a few. We help them identify their need and shape their response, we create a model for them, and we help them execute it, to achieve the outcome they seek.
As this new approach to tasks consolidates itself, we’re seeing the workforce change. People are acquiring and using skillsets that didn’t even exist a few years ago. Why? Partly because the technology requires an understanding of the new world of intelligent automation, and partly because people are now freed from the repetitive tasks of yesterday and are able to focus on the increased value they can bring to the business requirements of today and tomorrow.
Intelligent automation is streamlining processes and weaving itself into the fabric of the modern enterprise, thereby benefiting the organisation, the workforce and the customer alike. In a way, perhaps, we’re not so far from those 18th century cotton mills after all.
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