May 19, 2020

All-digital in five years? There’s a smart way to do it

Digital
CCTV
Opinion
Eckart Zollner
4 min
All-digital in five years? There’s a smart way to do it

There are a lot of analogue CCTV solutions out there – they account for over 60 percent of the current installed base – and they don’t work very well. Across industry sectors, organisations are slowly upgrading to IP solutions, especially in high risk and high value areas, but complete migration remains capital intensive and out of reach of budget-constrained organisations. That will not remain the case. Within three to five years, largescale adoption of all-IP solutions is expected.

The increasing value that the advanced features of newer CCTV systems offer to the broader business is a big driver, but organisations will need to stop making short-term decisions if they want to access the long-term benefits of digital solutions.

From eyes to algorithms

We know that a pair of human eyes watching a bank of CCTV-fed screens in a control room will fail within a very short period to identify threats and anomalies – it’s not what humans are good at. And it’s a reactive strategy. Technology does a better job.

New IP and digital technologies can set virtual boundaries, use analytics to assess threats, and built-in intelligence that enables it to learn what behaviour is normal and what may constitute a breach. That same intelligence can be put to work within businesses to improve logistics, productivity and operations – for example, by alerting a retailer to add more cashiers when queues become too long.

These advances are making it hard for organisations to completely ignore new technologies.

While companies with high-level systems are making use of security platforms with integrated controls and incident management systems, companies with CCTV systems with workforce-based manual controls are augmenting their solutions with body-worn technologies as well as more advanced solutions at critical points. Integration of legacy and these newer systems is critical. So is establishing a closer relationship with external companies.

Integrating old and new

We see the requirement for the old to integrate the new where companies make use of physical security companies, such as ensuring that alerts and other inputs from their CCTV systems are integrated into the processes of these external companies, especially if these systems are capable of analysis. Alerts need to be acted on, not just logged, and this intelligence needs to be fed back into the overall system. If, for example, there is an incident every Tuesday night at 10pm, perhaps a pattern is forming – an advanced CCTV system may pick this up. Will the security company who may assign a different guard every week to the facility? The service provider may not even be aware that the incident constitutes a risk as they may not know what assets are at risk. The onus is thus on the company and the service provider to work together.

Own your data; upskill your workforce

As they upgrade to newer digital systems, the challenge for business is to ensure that the decisions they are making are not just for short term benefit. Data is going to be critical to future advances. If they are investing in digital systems, companies need to own the data and be able to access it – and it should be built into workforce and other processes, with alerts going to the right people who can act on it. That data should not belong to the service provider. Internet of Things (IoT) inputs will add value too, alerting organisation and service providers to performance issues, ensuring systems are more stable and reliable, and technology lifecycles are extended.

As companies continue to migrate to more advanced systems, they will also need to upskill supervisory functions and the security workforce – instead of watching a screen in a control room, security staff will be fulfilling higher function roles, analysing data and using outputs to enhance systems.

The long road

For companies with advanced systems, such as financial organisations, security will be a many-layered solution encompassing data centres, branches and ATMS. The value of these systems is that as they become more integrated and sophisticated deliver more predictive insights that enable proactive responses. This is where we are all headed in five short years.

There are smart ways to migrate, ensuring maximum value for the organisation. The challenge is to ensure that investments are also made with long term benefits in mind and to find ways to integrate the benefits of digital solutions with manual systems as the journey unfolds.

 

By Eckart Zollner is the Head of Business Development at the Jasco Group

 

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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