Intelligent Automation in Retail

6 minutes read
on 23 April, 2019


Intelligent Automation in Retail



The Telltale Signs of Its Impact



When robotics process automation (RPA) was introduced in the retail industry, there was hardly any clarity around it. Many leaders had not even imagined the role it would play today in differentiating them from their competition. Now that these leaders are still coming to terms with RPA and are ready to explore its full potential there is a whole new revolution knocking on their doors!



Now RPA is getting too old school for the disruptive retail brands. So, they are making RPA brainy! In a nutshell, they are making robots think and act like humans. But how? Cognitive technology is the new talisman!



This is no ordinary integration of advanced cognitive tools with existing automations in place. The journey to intelligent automation is going to involve speed, agility, change management, analytics, governance practices, machine learning capabilities, and more.



So how is intelligent automation going to impact retail industry? Here are a few predictions that we make.





Shatter Functional Silos

Despite digital tools and the need for cross functional collaboration, we have seen many functions and roles operate in isolation. Intelligent automation will shatter the glass ceiling that still exists between these functions.

It will also bring data scientists closer to the business. It will become much more critical for these data scientists to understand the data, comprehend the criticality, and make predictions – all by staying close to the context of the business.

As an intelligent automation partner, we work with retail leaders as they rethink roles, collaboration, and exchange of information. We help them identify the siloed functions and create a change management strategy that would not only sustain but empower these functions as they undergo the phase of self-disruption.






Transform Business Governance

Every organization has its own way of governing the business. Whatever way it is, be rest assured that cognitive automation will change it for good.

We know that cognitive automation relies heavily on use of AI algorithms which in turn utilize data generated on a day-to-day basis. Many of these algorithms will be self-learning and self-evolving ones. In such a scenario, it becomes extremely critical that the AI technologies are monitored and governed closely as they access and use business data. It is critical to understand the gravity of AI.

We work with retail leaders to initiate boardroom level discussions on how to govern AI and its data use. We help them do some deep dive into the role of AI and its ability to impact the business.






Rise of Digital Workforce

One of the key arguments made by the detractors of AI and RPA is that they will create loss of jobs. The threat to jobs is real but it comes with a caveat.

What cognitive RPA will do is that it will give rise to a digital workforce with newer and more relevant skillsets. The machines will replace humans but only in mundane and repeat jobs. They will help the human workers move to more meaningful tasks that contribute to the strategic goals. In fact, RPA and AI will come together to create more opportunities for the digital workforce in the future.

When we work with retail clients, we help them prepare a plan on how to move their workforce from mere digital environment to cognitive RPA environment. We help them identify skillsets that the business will need and create a plan to develop the same within the organization. We also help them identify the ones that will go obsolete and develop a phase out strategy.






Look Beyond Just Data

So far RPA has been focused primarily on data – structured data to be very specific. But now since cognitive technologies will get RPA to perform human like thinking, the scope of focus will expand. Cognitive RPA will start looking at other aspects surrounding data like how structured and unstructured data is combined, how it is migrated from one source to the other, how it is converted into multiple forms, etc.

We help our retail clients broaden their understanding of big data. We help them review their data accumulation processes and make necessary change to ensure relevant information is collected in a structured format. We also help them put in checks and balances in the way data is managed at different stages.






Change Implementation Approach

So far RPA has been applied to legacy processes to expedite them and reduce the time taken to deliver a service. However, if we use the same approach for cognitive RPA, we would be undermining its true purpose. So, this time around we will see enterprises applying cognitive RPA to the top tier frontend facing systems and processes of the organization.

This may not be easy for some retail brands since any mistakes made here can hit the business. We step in here and help our retail client define a top to bottom approach of cognitive RPA. We help them create an implementation plan that safeguards the business from major disruptions.






Blurring Lines of Leadership

We have seen that digital transformation requires different leaders to play their part for the business to witness real transformation. But what happens when the lines between the leaderships blur? This is exactly what will happen with intelligent automation. CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs will find themselves at crossroads where each will end up questioning their role.

We step in here and help define a leadership style that will further the adoption of cognitive automation and help in building an intelligent enterprise. We work with these leaders to help them realize where they add real value and where they need to work closely with others. We help them realign their leadership styles to the upcoming changes that would reshape the business.






There is no right or wrong way to embracing cognitive automation. There will be failures here and there. But the ones that fail early will also be the ones to succeed first. So rather than waiting for other retail brands to get on the bandwagon, start your own journey to intelligent enterprise.



To learn more about how other industry leaders are gearing up for cognitive automation in retail, you can attend our AI, RPA and Cognitive Summit at Dallas on April 26, 2019. The event will be a great way to engage with leaders who are driving cognitive automation in retail industry. At the event, you will hear them share their thoughts on what lies beyond cognitive automation, how the upcoming trends will impact retail industry, and what challenges enterprises will have to tackle when implementing cognitive automation.