MBZUAI: advancing the transport sector with AI
MBZUAI is one of the world’s first graduate level and research based artificial intelligence (AI) universities, its partnership with Virgin Hyperloop - a Californian company and leader in hyperloop development - will drive a collaborative approach to research and innovation when it comes t oAI technology.
Via a virtual ceremony, His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at MBZUAI, and His Excellency Sultan Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World and Chairman of Virgin Hyperloop, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Witnesses to the signing included:
- Professor Sir Michael Brady, Interim President at MBZUAI
- Dr. Ling Shao, Executive Vice President and Provost at MBZUAI
- Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Executive Vice President for Outreach and Engagement at MBZUAI
- Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director Middle East and India at Virgin Hyperloop
“This partnership exemplifies the immense capacity of AI to reshape the world around us by breaking boundaries. Virgin Hyperloop will change the way we move around the world. MBZUAI will help enable this by providing access to some of the world’s most talented AI professionals, as well as superior research facilities, which can contribute to realizing Virgin Hyperloop’s vision,” commented Speaking on the announcement, His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.
Via the new partnership, MBZUAI and Virgin Hyperloop will bring together the best AI minds of both parties to achieve three core objectives:
- Joint fundamental research in several key AI domains
- Massively parallel cloud computing initiatives
- Provide a range of solution-oriented commercial projects in the smart transportation industry
Hyperloop technology is a new form of transportation with ambitions to become the most sustainable means of transportation in the 21st century. Fundamental to Virgin Hyperloo’s future operations in the Middle East, the company will use AI as the core basis to explore knowledge and exchange opportunities between MBZUAI and Virgin Hyperloop.
“Our region has great potential to emerge as a global powerhouse from the current economic situation. The transportation and technology sector – and that includes advancements in AI in particular – will define our regional capabilities in the long-term. Supported by AI, we are ultimately offering time with this disruptive, completely new, and sustainable technology that will help us to create an on-demand economy. We seek to revolutionize regional transport and trade sectors through a passenger and cargo hyperloop-enabled system, powered by AI. We can transport people and high-priority goods at the speed of an airliner, moving them between economic zones, cities and emirates. The UAE’s education sector, through partnerships such as our new collaboration with MBZUAI, will have a meaningful role in enabling and driving this very exciting and growing industry,” added His Excellency Sultan Bin Sulayem.
“With hyperloop, we find ourselves at an important crossroads of transport innovation. AI will play an important part and it promises to transform the customer experience, from seamless check-ins to smooth system operations. Together with our institutional partners at MBZUAI, we want to further accelerate the global hyperloop development, leading to the commercialization of the most sustainable means for mass transport in the 21st century,” concluded Dhaliwal.
MBZUAI will offer student Master of Science (MSc) and PhD level programs, whilst maintaining engagement with policymakers and businesses globally in order to efficiently harness AI as a force for positive transformation.
Image source: Virgin Hyperloop
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.”