Even though robots have become more sophisticated and popular in recent times, JENNI PALOCSIK says that they are not new, citing the use of them as far back as 400 B.C.
Robots seem to be everywhere these days—on the big screen in popular science fiction movies, in books and in toy stores, and also in a real way improving our workplaces and other aspects of our daily lives.
Primitive robots were machines designed to automatically perform a specific task. Around 3,000 B.C., Egyptian water clocks used human figures to strike bells on the hour. Another inventor, Archytas of Tarentum, was reported to have created a wooden pigeon that could fly in 400 B.C.
Robots have become significantly more sophisticated in modern times.
The first industrial robot was introduced in 1961 by General Motors in an automobile factory. Since then, many manufacturing industries have designed robots to do work that is too dangerous for humans or that can be done more quickly and consistently by machines.
Today, robots have evolved beyond physical motors and mechanical arms and manipulators to include software robots that can assist consumers and employees, helping them to do more tasks more easily. These robots can perform pre-programmed tasks or even leverage artificial intelligence to help them think and learn.
It’s a way to combine the convenience of automation with the work of today using computers and software programs. Here are some examples:
- Virtual agents, virtual assistants and chat bots: These non-human software programs “live” on websites or within mobile apps, leveraging interactive, context-aware knowledge bases to answer questions from humans. Virtual agents are often used to extend and enhance self-service options for customers, answering basic questions and helping people find additional information for a particular need. Often these functions are visually represented as an avatar to make them more “friendly” and to reinforce the company’s brand identity.
- Desktop automation: This software automates tasks to help improve employee productivity, completing steps more quickly and performing data reentry across systems. Some versions of the software can also help guide employees through tasks, displaying dialogue boxes providing instructions, presenting scripts to be read to customers and other important information.
- Robotic process automation: This software completes end-to-end processes or tasks within longer processes that don’t need to be performed by a human employee. Typically these are high volume, repetitive tasks involving data entry or re-entry across systems based on specific decision criteria and logic.
Why robots? Because just as we continue to invent cool new gadgets and technology that make our lives easier, better or more fun, software robots can be used to handle work previously done by humans to help us get it done faster, less expensively, and more consistently and accurately.
This applies to customer service chat bots, desktop automation and robotic process automation. And, there’s an even bigger benefit in most cases—human employees can shift from the more boring and repetitive tasks to more value-added customer-facing work, continuing to learn new skills as the knowledge workers of the future.
* Jenni Palocsik, Director Solutions Marketing, Verint
AppDate: Reserve Bank to choose fintech winner
This week, SEAN BACHER highlights the Global Fintech Hackcelerator, Fortnite’s skin for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Standard Bank and iiDENTIFii’s partnership, WRAPP and Zulzi’s latest expansion.
SARB to choose Global Fintech Hackcelerator winner
The South African Reserve Bank will host a Fintech Demo Day on 29 October 2019 to select two winners from 12 innovative and sustainable fintech solutions shortlisted for the Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa.
In August, SARB joined forces with KPMG Matchi to run the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa, an acceleration programme that creates a platform for fintech firms to demonstrate their innovative solutions to complex financial challenges in the Southern African region. Fintech firms from all over the world were invited to submit an application in response to problem statements constructed in collaboration with SARB.
The regional hackcelerator received 95 entries from interested fintech firms located across the globe. The 12 shortlisted respondents will showcase their solutions at the Fintech Demo Day at the end of this month in Johannesburg.
Each Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa 2019 winner will receive the following:
- A stipend towards travel expenses to attend the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival
- An opportunity to pitch their solution live during the Hackcelerator Demo Day at the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival and engage with industry experts
- Funding to develop a contextualised proof of concept, to be deployed within a year from the demo day
- An opportunity to work with high-value corporates to contextualise a solution to their needs, while obtaining market entry into the Singapore and Asia-Pacific region.
The top three winners at the Singapore Fintech Festival will each receive a cash prize.
For more information on the Global Fintech Hackcelerator click here.
Click here to read about a Fortnite exclusive for Samsung Galaxy Note 10 users, and Standard Bank’s new way of identifying its customers.
PC market grows again
Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, reached 70.4 million units in the third quarter of 2019 (3Q19), according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. Demand in the commercial segment combined with trade tensions between the United States and China to drive the market forward, resulting in a second consecutive quarter of growth with shipments increasing by 3% over the third quarter of 2018.
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, says: “With higher tariffs on the horizon PC makers once again began to push additional inventory during the quarter though the process was a bit more difficult as many faced supply constraints from Intel, leaving AMD with more room to grow. The trade tensions are also leading to changes in the supply chain as most notebook manufacturers are now prepared to move production to other countries in Asia, such as Taiwan and Vietnam.”
“Commercial demand should accelerate as enterprises work through the remainder of their Windows 10 migration,” says Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “The number of months until the end of service (EOS) date of Windows 7 can be counted on one hand. With January 14, 2020 drawing nigh, the commercial market should be able to digest the extra inventory over the next several quarters. Supply constraints may loom in subsequent quarters, so excess may not be a bad position for channel inventory through the remainder of the year.”
Traditional PC shipments in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) posted a year-over-year decline but the market performed above expectations. Back-to-school demand drove the consumer market in China, while online sales and preparations for the Diwali festive season supported consumer shipments in India, as two of the largest countries in the region surpassed the previous forecast. Meanwhile, the commercial market in China recorded a decline in line with expectations, impacted by macroeconomic pressures.
Coming in slightly above forecast, the Canadian traditional PC market delivered its 13th consecutive quarter of growth. The market is becoming increasingly solidified as the top 5 vendors now capture more than 85% of all shipments.
In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the traditional PC market achieved stable growth in 3Q19 with both desktops and notebooks performing relatively well. A strong pipeline of deals ahead of the ongoing Windows 10 transition continued to translate into commercial strength, offsetting the softness in the consumer market and the overall negative impact of the component shortage.
In Japan, both the commercial and consumer markets largely outperformed forecast, driven by Windows 10 migration and the consumption tax increase respectively. Commercial shipments established a new third quarter record beating the mark set in 2013 when Windows XP EOS created similar momentum in the commercial PC market.
The traditional PC market in Latin America was very much in line with previous expectations of a 4.1% year-over-year decline. During this period desktop shipments were better than expected mainly due to the large enterprise segment and verticals such as banking, retail, and manufacturing. Notebook shipments also declined during the quarter due to a weak consumer market and delays in some education deals.
The United States saw low single-digit growth in the third quarter with both desktop and notebooks seeing continued year-over-year growth. Inventory pull-in continued to be supported by Windows 7 EOS and continued tensions in the trade war. As most List 4 tariffs have been delayed until the end of the year, inventory pull-in overall was slightly weaker compared to the previous quarter. According to a recent survey among IT decision makers in the USA, more than 60% of businesses have transitioned their Windows-deployed PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Another 13% plan to do so by the Windows EOS date in January 2020.