Wipro: Africa's Smart Ports key to growth
Smart ports, terminals, and related logistics and transport industries will be crucial for African countries to achieve their economic growth ambitions over the coming years. To beneficiate and export commodity assets, countries throughout the continent need efficient, innovative transport and logistics environments.
Smart ports in particular, have opportunities to combine business process reengineering with the introduction of smarter technology across the total facility, such as geolocation/geofencing, connected objects and devices, Cloud-based services, mobility services, and Big Data analytics.
With limited ability and the financial implications to expand geographically and political pressure to lessen their environmental impact, ports are continually striving to generate better efficiencies and higher productivity.
They require technology that caters for the “just in time” nature of land-to-sea logistics, helps reduce dwell time and congestion, minimises damage and theft and ensures strong security and protection of national borders.
Faced with stiff competition from other ports and alternative inland options and being a notoriously capital-intensive business, port operators place a heavy emphasis on cost control. This is a high-stakes game; as the efficiency of a nation’s ports has billowing effects for the country’s entire economy.
Connected devices, analytics, and mobility: a powerful blend
Trusted outsourcing partners can demystify much of the complexity around new technology - working with ports to define the best solutions to address specific challenges, showing how technology has transformed other ports’ operations, and ultimately delivering and managing the services.
For example, a port operator could pull together real-time information from various players in the ecosystem: truck drivers, hauliers, parking space operators, port road management and vessel tracking systems. By integrating this data into smart analytics platforms, it can inform the scheduling of trucks entering, off-loading, on-loading containers, and exiting the port.
In fact, there are endless opportunities available by combining three related technology trends: connected devices, analytics and mobility. Every vehicle, device or asset in the port is connected with wireless technology, beaming information into an analytics platform, which then distributes usefel information to any mobile device.
This confluence of technology not only enables smoother operations, but helps port operators to fluidly integrate into external partner environments: such as shippers, carriers, agents / forwarders, trucking and rail companies, customs and government bodies. However, the truly transformative advantages of these new technologies go beyond faster reaction times and optimising logistics schedules. They lay the foundation for the future of predictive analytics, machine-learning and automation.
With embedded sensors on vehicles and assets recording every movement in the port, patterns start to develop and the port’s operations can be automatically adjusted based on past experiences, and expected activity within the port.
Eventually, through machine-learning, a port’s operations can be fully optimised - ensuring an efficient port management capability, and helping importers and exporters to deliver their services as quickly and competitively as possible.
By Gavin Holme, Country Head, Africa, Wipro Technologies and Richard A Butcher Global Head & Director of Ports and Terminals, Wipro Technologies.
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<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-1345915p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Lukasz Janyst</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>
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.”