Reimagining Work by Uniting Technological and Human Capabilities

The rapid pace of technological innovations has had a major impact on every sector and industry. It has brought about a huge change in the way companies operate, irrespective of the field (manufacturing, logistics, or sales). The fourth industrial revolution has enabled the integration of human expertise with emerging technologies to maximize productivity. The need of the hour is “collaborative intelligence” which allows companies to combine human and technological capabilities to achieve work efficiency.

Various companies across sectors are redefining the way they operate. They are implementing digital transformation strategies across critical functions to achieve work efficiency. The critical functions where companies are leveraging collaborative intelligence are given below.

Operations – Operations form the heart of a business, be it manufacturing, logistics, or research and development. Thus, companies are focusing on developing various innovative solutions by implementing digital automation in their core processes to achieve accurate outputs, increase work efficiency, and reduce the turnaround time.

For instance, with the inclusion of additive manufacturing, automation and cobots, the way factories operate has evolved significantly. These technologies free up engineers and operators’ time to carry out more complex tasks that require human intervention. This allows shorter turnarounds, reduces production time, and enhances the quality of products. We are at the cusp of a complete automation era, where soon most of the manual work will be performed by machines, and highly skilled workforce will be needed to program them.

Opportunities in this sector have led to many new start-ups offering innovative services. Cognite AS, a Norwegian software company, provides a cloud-based industrial DataOps platform to heavy-asset industries. Cognite has already achieved the “Unicorn” status, supported by the rising demand for software-based services. Other start-ups to watch out for are EquipmentShare and Zetwerk.

Technological trends are shaping the future of logistics too. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping streamline the complex process of supply chain management. The adoption of smart devices, decentralized management, AI-led automation, digital twins, autonomous vehicles, and smart logistics processes is enabling businesses to optimize cost and deliver high-quality services.
The sector has also witnessed the emergence of numerous start-ups, with the notable ones being Logmore, GoFreight, and Freightify. Logmore is Europe-based start-up that enables companies to have 360-degree visibility into their logistics lifecycle. It leverages AI to detect bottlenecks, trends, and deviations, helping companies solve issues more rapidly and accurately.

Sales and Marketing – Technology has revolutionized the world of sales and marketing. With an increasing number of consumers interacting via digital channels, reams of data are flowing into companies. Analysis of this big data can help companies obtain insights into customer behavior which was not possible earlier. Furthermore, big data also helps in designing marketing strategies and attracting the right target audience. Sales personnel are also leveraging technology to track leads and convert them to customers. Also, data-backed sales processes are helping companies create digital records and maintain accurate details.

Some of the new start-ups in this arena are 6sense Revenue AI, Conversica and InsideSales. Newbie 6sense Revenue AI, as the name suggests, uses AI to gather insights into consumer behavior to create a high-quality pipeline.

Workspace Efficiency – The pandemic has resulted in emergence of new-age workspaces which are technologically well equipped. To ensure minimum touch surfaces, several offices have installed automatic doors, sensor taps, and water filters. They have also introduced temperature checks and installed automatic sanitizer systems at entrances.

Start-ups such as India-based SmartClean (an AI- and IoT-enabled company) are disrupting the manner in which commercial and public infrastructures are being cleaned and disinfected.

Human Resources (HR) – The function of HR requires human connection – technology cannot replace it but help in strengthening it. Technologies such as AI have made recruitment smarter and more targeted. Also, technology can help organizations find relevant candidates for a job in minutes. Moreover, easy-to-use appraisal platforms help businesses streamline performance management monitoring by facilitating the collection of data for analysis. Technology also enables companies to maintain compliance with the latest HR regulations. Furthermore, technology has made HR more strategic and intelligent.

Some of the start-ups revolutionizing this space are Belong, Criteria Corp, and Built In. India-based Belong is a predictive hiring platform that uses data science and predictive analytics to identify the right candidate.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – Technology can be a game changer for CSR activities. Technology can help in streamlining the entire process of strategizing, planning, managing and reporting CSR activities. Historical data help companies choose organizations or NGOs most suitable for CSR investments. Technology platforms can also help in monitoring the entire program. Using digital tracking and reporting, companies can collect the relevant data which can be used for designing future strategies.

Collidescope, a US-based start-up, helps companies make CSR initiatives more transparent.

Technology is currently changing every facet of our work life. Notably, the pandemic accelerated the pace of change that was already underway.

The fear of technology replacing humans and creating job crunch has been around for long. However, the fear can be considered irrational. Automation has reduced the requirement for human intervention; however, it has led to a rise in the need for skilled workforce. Therefore, companies must focus on upgrading skills of employees and train them to operate new technologies. Technology has reduced process timelines while enhancing efficiency and productivity which makes it a crucial tool.