The late JFK said that automation does not need to be our enemy. “I think machines can make life easier for men, if men do not let the machines dominate them,” he said. This cannot be more relatable today where systems and processes across offices, factories, and homes are often automated.
In 2021, the automation industry as a whole was expected to generate around $214 billion worldwide. With the growing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotics – three important digital game changers – the advent of automation and connected devices allows industries to innovate and grow in size rapidly. Automation has become an important factor to most modern industries and industrial software development, making it not only a mere technology to increase production and influence economic growth, but it also acts as a service to industrial, domestic, and personal living.
By expediting processes and minimizing human error, the essence of building an automation framework is expanding constantly with various advantages. Zooming in to the home and business automation landscapes, the 21st century is driven by the Industry 4.0 era and technologies, encompassing control and automation of devices, machines, and security, among other facets.
Smart living at home
There are around 175 million smart homes worldwide, with a growth expected to be at 21.4% by 2025. This only means that the golden age of smart technology has pushed forward in leaps and bounds to make people’s lives easier, especially at home.
The days when someone has to manually check the house twice before leaving so that no lights or appliances are left switched on are slowly fading. Controlling, management and coordination of home appliances in a comfortable, effective, and AI-powered manner are made possible through automatic systems. These can be programmed and can even perceive and learn from the environment. In the age of automation, where smart devices and sensors optimize energy consumption, reduce time-to-deliver, and streamline security, homes can now serve as your personal assistant and innovative landlord. To emphasize, energy management systems, as well as security and access control systems, are driving the smart homes market.
In parallel to this, the Internet of Things (IoT) is what makes smart homes run, and coupled with 5G technology, they will run even faster and offer more possibilities. With this in mind, telcos have the opportunity to move up the value chain and operate at the service layer. By focusing on customer experience and service simultaneously, the value of telcos will increase with a strong, bundled smart home solution.
The smart homes of tomorrow will be built on the back of services, enabling seamless connectivity, integration, and automation. The extensive customer base and existing infrastructure of high-speed internet cables and cell towers of telcos could be the lifeline of every smart bulb, camera, lock, or speaker in the household. Fiber optics are also ideal to deliver smart home services along with the continuous launch of various wireless technology-based devices and deployment of cellular network technologies.
As per TechSci Research, the Middle East smart homes market benefited from wireless communication advancements to support system integration, increasing wireless devices market, and growing adoption of low power and cost-effective hardware. Network technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi are being widely used to offer high voice support, strong coverage and appropriate data speeds to residents.
Moreover, the Middle East smart homes market is expected to register a healthy growth rate in the coming years on account of government initiatives towards energy efficiency and building smart cities like NEOM. Apart from the increasing IoT market, the booming M2M communication market and thriving touch-free intuitive gesture control are also expected to positively influence the region’s smart homes market. These can be applied to lighting controls, HVAC controls, security & access control, entertainment controls, etc.
Backed by technological and infrastructural developments and growing usage of mobile devices, the digital lifestyle is indeed a reality in the region, with the rising demand for robust IoT infrastructure and telecom networks to power and secure these smart systems.
Automating businesses to be competitive
New technologies like AI, computer vision, robotic process automation (RPA), virtual assistants, low-code application development, and business intelligence combined to bring a hyper automated infrastructure in place can be pivotal for business planning, managing operations, and streamlining processes.
Investing in automation can reap long-term benefits if the company’s business needs are prioritized. Automating tasks by developing advanced rules-based processes that allow for greater control and improved accuracy and compliance can reduce cycle and waiting time, can be easily audited, and can be scaled to demand and utilized across processes.
In the Gulf region, according to YouGov, half of the data workers now rely on automation to carry out manual duties at work, placing the region in a unique position to further advance the benefits of AI innovation. These employees are producing faster results through the use of analytics technology compared to five years ago. Supporting effective collaboration and governance, RPA and cognitive automation tools are among the most helpful when it comes to digital process automation.
Digital process automation refers to the use of digital technology to perform processes in order to accomplish a workflow. Businesses across the world have been relying on business process management (BPM) for enhancing and managing the back-end activities efficiently which is necessary for optimization, digital transformation, and customer experience.
Business automation has become a strategic priority for the majority of SMBs and enterprises and is gaining momentum as the development of AI-driven automation solutions booms further. With the help of connected ecosystems in the workplace, apps, technologies, and other solutions can give quick access to a network of services that allow for a better allocation of available resources – increasing productivity.
In fact, in countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE, the projected adoption of automation by 2030 is higher than the projected global average of 32%. Through AI/ML-powered automation, workers and companies in the Middle East can focus on the real challenge (and opportunity) presented by digitization in implementing new technologies in everyday workflow.
Empowering workers to become more capable and independent when using technology solutions is the way forward for automation. Instead of fearing job displacement or eviction, AI and ML can be used to break the boundaries when connecting remote, on-site, and hybrid team members and encourage proper decision-making. Even RPA, which is an enterprise-class software automation solution, can be relied on to deliver repetitive process executions and data handling across legacy, desktop, and web applications. MENA is also in line with the global trend of rapidly opening up to embark on the RPA transformation wave.
Heading into 2022, still heavily impacted by the pandemic, the business landscape is constantly changing by automating business processes, increasing productivity, and engaging with customers effectively. No doubt that automation will ease the burden of repetitive, mundane tasks and create more value-added work for human workers and enterprises.