By Charndré Emma Kippie
When it comes to all things AI and Robotics, South Africa brings people together from diverse backgrounds and creeds, accumulating mass innovation and nudging the country forward, each day, towards total technological transformation. As we’ve learned from Africa Tech Week 2020, AI has been around for a while, but is only just realising its true potential on the continent of Africa. Companies have taken the plunge and moved towards creating a society of ‘Digital Workers’, fostering a new digital workplace, and this is all thanks to AI innovation. The big question that keeps popping up, now, is: What’s the best use for AI in today’s technological climate?
As part of the Africa Tech Week Virtual Summit 2020, many industry professionals came together to impart technological and business knowledge, in hopes of inspiring emerging tech entrepreneurs, and assisting them with bettering their business models, in light of the current state of the world. Covid-19 has presented South Africa, and the world with a second wave of the virus, and as businesses gear up for further disruption, many leaders in the field are seeking the necessary tools and solutions.
Steve Burke, the CEO of DigiBlue – specialists in implementing RPA and Intelligent Automation to create Digital Workforces – was a much anticipated speaker at the 2020 Africa Tech Week Virtual Summit last year. As he took to the stage to present his opinions on AI and Robotics trends, it became evident that moving towards creating integrated human-digital workforces would be imperative for businesses to progress in 2021 and beyond.
Steve’s background in high-value management consulting, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and leading enterprise transformations, is noteworthy, making his insight into the tech field absolutely invaluable. Five key takeaways from Steve’s Africa Tech Week discussion were:
- The uses of AI and robotics in SA are limitless, but this adaptation will take some time, in order to craft and redesign long standing, established processes.
- A digital worker is basically all software which has been designed to ‘emulate’ what the human worker does. Thus, a digital worker differs from an actual robot, as robots need very structured data input to perform their core tasks.
- We are now able to use AI capabilities to process unstructured data faster and more efficiently. AI has, thus far, had a positive impact on businesses, boosting imaginative efforts, propelling innovation, and enhancing the overall speed of organisations.
- AI, when utilised correctly, can be highly cost effective. Costs and retrenchments can now be lowered on the backend, thanks to newfound robotic capacity.
- Companies need to realise that it’s all about ‘leverage’. Companies in South Africa need to do all that they can with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to scale their businesses. We are now able to create a multiple-purpose digital workforce, and are all about “co-locating digital workers to improve utility”, according to Steve. This means that processes can now be run concurrently, which will enhance expediency in the long run.
Steve Burke, CEO of DigiBlu, holds a Masters degree in the Design of Information Systems (Cranfield) and an Honours degree in International Politics (UCW Aberystwyth). Steve is also quite experienced in leadership and strategy, having undergone training at Sandhurst and the Army Staff College. Prior to his position held at DigiBlu, Steve was an officer in the British Parachute Regiment. Thereafter, he moved on to high-value management consulting. Steve is a member of Blue Prism’s Partner Executive Council and a keynote speaker, influencing the industry with his exemplary, visionary thinking about the workforce of the future, which he supplements with his seasoned experience in successfully leading transformational change.