Deloitte on robotics, automation & AI changing life as we know it

Interviews

by Jessica Amir

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Deloitte National Lead Partner Amberjit Endow and Deloitte Partner Michael Williams discuss the rapid adoption of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) and what the future holds.

Jessica Amir: Hi I'm Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network, joining me from Deloitte is a national leader of robotics and cognitive, Amberjit Endow and another leader from Deloitte, a leader of human capital Michael Williams. Gentlemen thank you so much for coming in and welcome.

Michael Williams: Thanks for having us Jess.

Amberjit Endow: Thank you Jessica, glad to be here.

Jessica Amir: So first up gentlemen, your human capital trends report has found that half of the people say that their organizations are rapidly adopting AI and robotics trends, or projects if you will. But what are you guys actually seeing on the ground?

Michael Williams: We have studied over the last six years 11,000 business and HR leaders, and we call it the human capital trends report. What we've found in that latest set of research that we've conducted is that 75 per cent of business leaders say that AI, cognitive, automation, is a critical issue for their organizations. Yet only 23 per cent of them are telling us that they're ready to tackle this head on. So, the real issue here is how fast can Australian organisations adopt these technologies and then scale them in their businesses.

Amberjit Endow: Automation has been a continuous process for civilization, where we are today in the digitization era unconstraining human capacity is a key agenda for all businesses. Unconstraining capacity for higher value, unconstraining capacity for productivity and to operate in a reinvented world where service delivery can be reinvented using these activations. So we're seeing most businesses work on that reinvention agenda.

Jessica Amir: So just tell us what industries that you're really seeing are advancing the most and why?

Amberjit Endow: Jessica, one of the key criteria for reinvention of services through this technology is the level of codification that businesses have. That accelerates that journey along with other technology considerations like born in the Cloud or Cloud first strategy. So financial services in that sense certainly seem to be leading the way globally, as well as in Australia.

Michael Williams: We're starting to see organizations build what we call cognitive assistance, so they're effectively machines that help compute lots of data points, consider lots of possibilities and provide a recommendation to the adviser, to the financial planner on how to give their client guidance and advise.

Amberjit Endow: Pairing innovation with the human side of design is another key, where we're starting to see these innovations play out is let’s say in the field of health care, where a person with a mental health issue finds it a lot less judgmental to be interacting with a machine on their condition.

Jessica, one of the innovations that we are seeing and quite proud of in terms of what AI and robotics can enable is the driverless trucks in Western Australia in the mine sites. Or globally in some of the oil and gas sites, where we have got unmanned vehicles doing the task of humans. Now what that really means is people do not need to be in those challenging environments doing the job, as well as prevent the fly in, fly outs from those sites. To be able to spend a lot more time with their family and friends.

The third example I would give is retailers and telcos creating a voice and a chat platform for customers to be engaging with them at real time.

Jessica Amir: So maybe you can tell us who were the real leaders in this field?

Michael Williams: It's about really testing and learning, and I think what we're seeing really successfulorganisations doing is starting with small experiments and tests, that they can prove to be good or bad ideas, then they scale those tests to another level. We've been working in the Superannuation industry with some of the superannuation funds on helping create solutions whereby their customers can interact with automated chat devices that allow them to get the answers to questions like, what have customers like me done with their investment portfolios? How have they structured their portfolio? Just to find a way to answer a common question, solve a really common problem that a customer of a fund may have, but doing it in an automated way. Using all the value of all the data from other customers in the market but then providing an automated interaction with that interested customer.

Amberjit Endow: So we're working with a number of partners like Bloopers and UiPath automation anywhere, across a whole cross section of industries, whether it's banking or insurance on how we accelerate the customer experience in dealing with these organisations. The time to complete a transaction, the time to complete a query. Now the other end of the spectrum is a much more humane, where we're working with the hospital networks on creating a bedside assistance with Amazon's Alexa, and we have successfully piloted there. We're prioritising requests from the bedside to a nurses station, creates a lot more value on how we utilise the time for the nurses.

Jessica Amir: A more general question now, how far away is the world really from getting robotics at a stage where we can clean up catastrophic aftermaths, like from Chernobyl or Fukushima?

Amberjit Endow: Jessica, what excites me is the bringing together of the physical robotics and the software and the machine intelligence together. We are already in a scenario where drones can remotely observe and provide intelligence at the back of disaster. You can pair it up with machine learning as a technique to actually assess how far, or what needs to be your next course of action in terms of responding to that. Now one of the examples that excites us a lot was during the outbreak of the Zika virus we used robotics to basically accelerate how we actually looked at all the samples coming over from all over the world, and process them at super high speed to actually course correct in terms of how the disease control actions were going to be designed. What comes next is being able to proactively identify where there is the chance of a disaster or a problem through technologies like IOT, or internet of things, on physical assets and infrastructure. That is when we get to a point where we can predict as well as react in the appropriate way.

Jessica Amir: Last question now gentlemen, where is the future really headed?

Michael Williams: Businesses really need to take the lead, and what we're seeing in all of our studies and again with respect to the research we just did, we've seen that the community expects business to take the lead and have a voice on these topics. We saw with the recent marriage equality debate how important it was for businesses to play a lead role in driving that conversation, that agenda. The opportunity here for Australian businesses is to take the lead on this topic, to address both the productivity challenges, the customer challenge's but also the people challenge's and the work force challenge's. How are we going to transition our workers and our work forces to what's required in Australia in the future?

Amberjit Endow: Jessica, this is going to be an expediential journey enabled by machines. But to be very clear humans would be the designers and architects of this journey. We spoke about financial services earlier, what happens next is health care, and government. Anything that involves people interacting with businesses in a more meaningful and innovative way will be part of this journey. The other side of the equation then is how are we building the capability as a nation? That's where there is a responsibility for businesses, for government, for all of us to actually activate or seed the right kind of talent with kids in schools, people in university. People undertaking tertiary education, so they are part of this whole eco system, rather than fearful of this eco system. We expect the robotic process automation industry to be $5 billion by 2020, now that is a pretty big undertaking and it would need a lot of humans to be right on top of this eco system.

Jessica Amir: Thank you so much for coming in Amberjit Endow, Michael Williams, it's been an absolute pleasure, extremely profound insights. Thank you very much.

Amberjit Endow: Thank you Jessica, we really enjoyed it.

Michael Williams: Thanks for having us Jess.


Ends

Jessica Amir

Finance News Network
Jessica is the head of news and a senior finance journalist and presents bulletins including the Market Outlook, Market at Midday and Market Wrap. She also interviews ASX CEOs and leading fund managers. She joined FNN in January 2017 with over six years of broadcast journalism experience including with Sky News Business, ABC 1, ABC's The Business and ABC24. She’s also worked as a TV reporter for Prime 7 and WIN News. Jessica has worked in financial planning for over six years with leading wealth managers and in real estate.