Give your team super-powers
You select employees for their skills, competencies and attitude. You train them to function at maximum efficiency. What if they had super powers that enabled them to do even more?
That’s the promise of well-engineered, well-designed automation working in partnership with humans.
Help employees make better decisions and instantly improve processes through better data.
Improve employee job satisfaction by offloading boring and repetitive tasks.
Give them increased bandwidth so they can accomplish more.
Automation can be likened to giving everyone a ‘mini assistant’, constantly available at all times across web, mobile, desktop, messaging – in fact, any platform you can think of. We call this mini assistant Nibo. People in a range of organizations are already benefiting from working with Nibo. And the journey’s just beginning.
Fear vs. reality
Most make the mistake of thinking new automation technology does away with the need for people. Our favorite anecdotal example:
Buzz Aldrin used a slide rule to make last-minute calculations before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Within a few short years such old ways of working had been replaced. Yet the pocket calculator never caused mass unemployment among engineers, architects and mathematicians.
This is not a straw man argument, there are hundreds or examples of this kind.
Automation just replaces a set of tasks. And that doesn’t mean replacing a job. Today we have layers of automation on top of each other and yet, even with a growing population, more people are employed now than any time in history.
Ever since the Luddites attempted to smash early machines, many people – and the media – have been nervous about automation decreasing employment. This worry was stoked with each successive wave of innovation. Yet over the long term, statistics show working conditions and employment rates improving in line with increased automation. Compensation and productivity are increased by 100% since 1973. And all this despite a near five-fold increase in global population rates since 1900:
From the dream of a humanoid robot doing the dishes to the dishwasher machine
Many of us grew up watching “The Jetsons” and imagining that by the time we’re adults we’ll have our own Rosie (a robot maid) for most of the chores. Yet rather than wait to have all the ingredients for such an advanced robot, people found different ways to achieve automation, dare I say some more cost efficient. From mechanical power, to process engineering to calculation speed and data insights, automation is about enabling us to do more, faster and better. We recognize 4 waves of automation in the past 100+ years, as follows:
Short history of automation and computing
We built human-operated machines to multiply our strength (such as cranes, tractors, or factory robots), and we designed ways for them to work in a specific order, creating mass production lines that produce more goods, faster and cheaper.
Producing a lot, quickly, means that small errors become very wasteful. So we invented processes like Lean to carefully monitor quality, putting more emphasis on human judgement in the assembly line.
We built computers to stop us making calculation mistakes. And then we equipped billions of individual humans all over the planet with one or more computers, generating data that reveals complex patterns that we’re not capable of deriving via intuition.
We’re now using data even more to solve problems, attempting to reduce our human biases, and to become even more efficient and more inclusive. Compare this situation with how our day-to-day activities would have been carried out 100 years ago.
Digital transformation projects often involve demystifying what A.I. really is and what it can do, what kind of tasks can be automated and what everyone gets out of it, from the task worker to the CFO. We shared out thoughts in a few articles about this.
Routine tasks done in seconds, intelligent search, adaptive processes, huge bodies of data to support your decisions, consistent and error-free execution… these are all skills that are not humanly possible but nor are they useful without a person using them. Using these principles Nibo aims to give each employee super powers.
Unifying islands of automation
for true digital transformation
The automation landscape is fragmented because it’s built around tasks, workflows but not around people.
Today’s AI, machine learning and digital transformation initiatives have their roots in – and their futures determined by – emergent processes. In fact, they are merely the latest manifestations of a continuous process whereby we are moving toward new ways of doing things that haven’t even occurred to us yet.
So the reality of trying to integrate and automate all that we want is today still very hit-and-miss. Teams typically build islands of tasks and processes at department level. ERP software tries to pull everything in as more features. CRM software does the same, and ticketing solutions try to do a similar thing. All these solutions are focused first on their core competency, finance, sales, marketing support. But human competencies are not the same as a set of tasks you can do inside an app that you can just record and automate. And if you ‘zoom out’ in any organization it’s clear that there is less integration, automation and communication happening in practice than might be expected.
That’s why we build Nibo focusing on the end user, irrespective of the department in which they work. That’s why we obsess about how the user feels about Nibo. You cannot do digital transformation if your end users are not onboard with it.
Workflows are simple,
but how about processes?
The more work people have to do to prepare information for other departments, the less bandwidth they have for the job in hand. This problem recurs in all organisations, from startups to large corporations. Small teams have a high level of communication and information exchange. They function at a very efficient level, but this becomes degraded when scaled up across the whole organization.
Why does this happen? It’s simply because other departments have different priorities. To make things happen you have to wait on people and wade through different hierarchies. You discover processes are not understood at every level, and that parts of the information needed are missing. It follows that attempting to automate at departmental level can only bring about limited success and disgruntled employees.
At Nibo we understand the lessons of history and accept that we can’t be sure what we’re going to end up with when we start out. Instead of endlessly consulting and preparing, let’s begin by inferring what should be automated.
Nibo aims to identify and prioritize procedures that will cut out boring and repetitive work, accelerate hand-offs between teams / departments, and identify bottlenecks so they can be eliminated. In this way, completely new processes will emerge in due course and will keep improving.
An augmented brain
People empathize with anthropomorphic characters, so we built Nibo as a robot with a human brain. Nibo may be faster tireless and freer of errors than we are, but it relies on human judgement to create something useful.
With Nibo as everyone’s mini assistant, super powers can literally be achieved – powers that go beyond what humans can achieve alone. Or, indeed, what Nibo could achieve alone. Nibo’s always there, always ready, but most importantly always part of your team.