Data centres set to cash in on Pokémon Go
The delayed UK launch of Pokémon Go, due to concerns surrounding ‘server overload’ understandably caused frustration amongst gamers and enthusiasts across the region, all of whom wanted to get their hands on the biggest craze currently sweeping the planet.
But one party which was certainly not complaining was the data centre community, according to Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data, as he believes the industry has finally found the catalyst that will propel gaming into becoming a critical market for data centre operators.
Pokémon fever is rife across the globe thanks to a new augmented-reality version of the 90’s monster-collecting game, which sees players hunt through real-world locations for digital critters. Pokémon Go, produced by Nintendo and Niantic, officially launched on iPhone and Android last week in the US, Australia, New Zealand and most recently Germany, with the phenomenon already being widely felt with Nintendo adding $7 billion to it’s value with shares rocketing up 53 percent, and all before it hit mainland Europe.
Pokémon Go has now officially launched in the UK, but such was the early demand that the makers initially decided to postpone the UK launch due to concerns that server capacity would crumble under the weight of demand – something already seen in Australia, as UK gamers looked to steal a march by registering themselves as being based in Australasia in order to start catching ‘em all’ early.
According to McCulloch, Pokémon Go could well be the game which finally allows the data centre industry to act on the early promise of the gaming market:
“Traditionally, data centre operators have relied on telco and financial services for critical revenue streams, but as data requirements have grown across different markets so have the opportunities which come with this. For a long-time, streaming and gaming services have very much been one of those markets teetering on becoming a critical business growth opportunity for data centre operators. This is largely driven by demand from consumers wanting compelling, richer, audio-visual content which can be consumed across a variety of mediums such as television, computers, mobile, gaming consoles and tablets.
“Data centre operators have been more than equipped to handle the demands of the gaming sector for a long time now – historically, limited computing power combined with slow connectivity speeds meant there was always a cap as to what could be achieved. The infrastructure is now in place to support this by providing the highest levels of connectivity, storage and qualities of service these new, immersive gaming experiences require. Arguably, it has been a case of waiting for the right opportunity, or game, to come along, which allows the industry to push on and it looks like we might have that now.”
McCulloch continued: “When the news broke that Niantic were originally delaying the launch in the UK, the data centre industry were probably the only ones smiling about this – the reasons of not wanting to overload servers played perfectly into the messaging behind most operators, as these are the types of spikes that they are built to handle. For those looking to capture this demand, understanding the culture of the technology, it’s consumption patterns across different regions, as well as assessing key security concerns are going to be integral. Having dedicated fibre connections to key Internet Exchanges will enable customers to benefit from high connectivity and speeds, allowing the user to have a seamless, unhindered experience.
“Looking to the future, it’s clear augmented reality (AR) and gaming are a match made in heaven. Initially, many technology companies thought AR might first take-off through specialised business applications that, for example, would allow an architect to visualise a finished building project. Instead, it looks like it will be a popular children’s franchise that will see the technology go mainstream and this will likely only be the start. With the necessary infrastructure, connectivity and storage capacity, those in the data centre industry might have just been handed the keys to the castle that allows the early promise of the gaming industry to become a very real and very lucrative reality.”
Read the July EURO 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
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.
- 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
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- 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
- 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.”