Clearly this is a realm in which knowledge workers need strong skills in computer science, artificial intelligence, and analytics. In his book Data-ism, Steve Lohr offers stories of some of the people doing this work. For example, at the E. & J. Gallo Winery, an executive named Nick Dokoozlian teams up with Hendrik Hamann, a member of IBM’s research staff, to find a way to harness the data required for “precision agriculture” at scale. In other words, they want to automate the painstaking craft of giving each grapevine exactly the care and feeding it needs to thrive. This isn’t amateur hour. Hamann is a physicist with a thorough knowledge of IBM’s prior application of networked sensors. Dokoozlian earned his doctorate in plant physiology at what Lohr informs us is the MIT of wine science—the University of California at Davis—and then taught there for 15 years. We’re tempted to say that this team knows wine the way some French people know paper.
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With automation, processes can perform in ways that optimize the amount of human support needed. This shift—moving the burden of processes from humans to technology—has the potential to redesign the way work gets done within an enterprise. Simple automation of processes can eliminate errors, reduce biases and perform transactional work in a fraction of the time it takes humans. And with the application of artificial intelligence, these point robotic process fixes have now evolved into intelligent interactions and processes.
Ashok Gudibandla, CEO at Automate.io, notes, “Automation of business processes is of course constantly evolving. It requires alignment of people, processes, and technology. Each part is a challenge. We are experts at the last part, technology (software/systems/AI). The big challenge here is that with more and more systems (email, marketing, sales, customer service, payments) moving to the cloud, there is a fragmentation of data and processes, with each department using their own siloed tools. Automating processes across departments is a big challenge.
The takeaway is that testing is a process requiring human intervention. Bas Dijkstra, an experienced test automation consultant, describes how even the term “test automation” is flawed unless you understand what is and isn’t automated. The actual “learning, exploring, and experimenting” involved in manual, human-performed testing cannot be automated, according to Dijkstra. He writes:
Under other circumstances, Daniel Leger might be among those making sure the 11 Jews who were murdered in Pittsburgh are cared for in death. He is the leader of Pittsburgh’s liberal chevre kadisha—the committee responsible for tending to and preparing bodies before burial. Instead, he is in the hospital. He is one of the two congregants and four police officers who were injured in this week’s horrific attack.
In fact, counting macros (or macronutrients) offers several nutritional benefits. For the dieting newbie, meal planning by counting macros is a good way to get a handle on portion control, says Ariane Hundt, a clinical nutrition coach in New York City. “It helps people understand where their calories come from and what impact they have on the body,” she adds. And it also helps you make good, informed choices, such as whole food over processed food.
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What does this mean for us? Hello, free time! It means we would have more time to spend doing things that a machine just cannot do. You’ll get to focus on the creative aspects of your job. Let your brain actually do some thinking and innovating. As much as I hate to sound scientific, you’ll be able to let your human-like capabilities flourish to prove your value. This is where the three job categories that will thrive with automation come into play: creatives, composers and coaches will start to take off.
About a year later, someone calling himself or herself Etherable posted a query to Workplace on Stack Exchange, one of the web’s most important forums for programmers: “Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer I’ve automated my job?” The conflicted coder described accepting a programming gig that had turned out to be “glorified data entry”—and, six months ago, writing scripts that put the entire job on autopilot. After that, “what used to take the last guy like a month, now takes maybe 10 minutes.” The job was full-time, with benefits, and allowed Etherable to work from home. The program produced near-perfect results; for all management knew, its employee simply did flawless work.
Roberts notes, “Streamlining processes is my expertise, so I have a lot of experience here. Here's one high-level example: I worked on a technical risk management process that involved process streamlining and troubleshooting. Process upsets were two to three times more than plan. Staff satisfaction was poor. Annual business targets weren't met. After automating and streamlining that process, the process upsets were reduced to within 10 percent of plan. Staff satisfaction increased 20 percent. The business started meeting targets and saved over $3 million from efficiency gains. Talk about some serious results from automating!
“Many companies are also using zonal OCR and barcode scanning to automate document filing. Zonal OCR lets the user set a predefined area from which information is automatically captured, indexed, and added to a specific database. Many companies employ Zonal OCR on their purchase orders so that scanning the document will transfer the invoice number and shipping and billing information directly to a database. Adding barcode recognition to a document automates the filing process by telling the computer where and how to file a document and its content. These capabilities help these large, established companies compete today.”
The second area, application coverage, looks at the test process from other directions -- typically, the percentage of the requirements that are "covered." One common application coverage tool is a traceability matrix -- a list of which tests cover which requirements. Typically, test case management software records all the planned tests and allows testers to mark that a test case "ran" for any given release, which allows management to determine what percentage of tests were "covered." This is a sort of "quality assurance" look at the test process, which should ensure that each part of the application is covered, along with a management control.
The recently released World Quality Report 2017–2018 by Capgemini, Sogeti, and Micro Focus points out several interesting trends in software quality and testing. Two of three key trends are increasing test automation and widespread adoption of agile and DevOps methodologies. As the report shows, organizations need intelligent automation and smart analytics to speed up decision making and validation and to better address the challenges of testing smarter devices and products that are highly integrated and continuously changing. The report also suggests the need of smart test platforms that are self-aware and self-adaptive to support the complete application lifecycle.
Installing thousands of bots has taken a lot longer and is more complex and costly than most organizations have hoped it would be, Edlich and Sohoni say. The platforms on which bots interact often change, and the necessary flexibility isn’t always configured into the bot. Moreover, a new regulation requiring minor changes to an application form could throw off months of work in the back office on a bot that’s nearing completion.
When someone asks you for an update, can you be sure that your reporting is correct? What happens if the sales team changes the prices and doesn’t update the document you’re quoting from? These inefficiencies can cost your company money. They also decrease your company’s accountability, not to mention wreak havoc on company compliance and customer satisfaction.
We don’t want to create the impression that stepping aside is purely for artists. Senior lawyers, for example, are thoroughly versed in the law but are rarely their firms’ deep-dive experts on all its fine points. They devote much of their energy to winning new work (usually the chief reason they get promoted) and acting as wise counselors to their clients. With machines digesting legal documents and suggesting courses of action and arguments, senior lawyers will have more capacity to do the rest of their job well. The same is true for many other professionals, such as senior accountants, architects, investment bankers, and consultants.
Augmentation, in contrast, means starting with what humans do today and figuring out how that work could be deepened rather than diminished by a greater use of machines. Some thoughtful knowledge workers see this clearly. Camille Nicita, for example, is the CEO of Gongos, a company in metropolitan Detroit that helps clients gain consumer insights—a line of work that some would say is under threat as big data reveals all about buying behavior. Nicita concedes that sophisticated decision analytics based on large data sets will uncover new and important insights. But, she says, that will give her people the opportunity to go deeper and offer clients “context, humanization, and the ‘why’ behind big data.” Her shop will increasingly “go beyond analysis and translate that data in a way that informs business decisions through synthesis and the power of great narrative.” Fortunately, computers aren’t very good at that sort of thing.
McKinsey & Company estimates that about half of all business processes — including yours — can be automated. Automation could save your business a lot of money, but you may be wondering what processes to start with and what is even possible. First and foremost, review the strategic and operating drivers for improvement. Then look for the processes. Rote and repetitive tasks are one obvious place to start.
Business process automation (BPA) is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes. It can help to streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs. BPA consists of integrating applications, restructuring labor resources and using software applications throughout the organization. Robotic process automation is an emerging field within BPA and uses artificial intelligence. BPAs can be implemented in a number of business areas including marketing, sales and workflow.
Ideal for beginners who need some extra help along the way, this supportive app includes tons of useful tips and tricks so users have the best food logging experience possible. Portion control ideas make sure you won’t overindulge and pop-up alerts can remind you to weigh-in or have a healthy afternoon snack. Compare how your actual macro intake stacks up against your daily target each day. Plus, the app auto-adjusts your caloric goals when your body composition changes. If your Wi-Fi is spotty or you’re constantly logging on-the-go, rest assured that the complete food database is available offline, too. ($3.99; iOS, Android)
A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the days leading up to the midterm elections—and the special counsel’s office has asked the FBI to weigh in. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” the Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday.
There are various tools that help software teams build and execute automated tests. Many teams are actively using unit tests as part of their development efforts to verify critical parts of their projects such as libraries, models and methods. Historically, testing user interfaces of desktop-based applications via automated tests have been more challenging, and currently available tools for this are usually commercial and quite expensive.
The two of us have been looking at cases in which knowledge workers collaborate with machines to do things that neither could do well on their own. And as automation makes greater incursions into their workplaces, these people respond with a surprisingly broad repertoire of moves. Conventional wisdom is that as machines threaten their livelihood, humans must invest in ever higher levels of formal education to keep ahead. In truth, as we will discuss below, smart people are taking five approaches to making their peace with smart machines.
A global retailer was using its store closing reports to validate closing information for each of its registers across hundreds of stores. The store’s employees used a manual and sluggish process to pull up these reports. By automating the process the store freed up its employees to now focus on more customer-centric activities. The RPA robots now move the closing reports to one server, then read and consolidate the needed information for the store’s closing reports.
Software tests have to be repeated often during development cycles to ensure quality. Every time source code is modified software tests should be repeated. For each release of the software it may be tested on all supported operating systems and hardware configurations. Manually repeating these tests is costly and time consuming. Once created, automated tests can be run over and over again at no additional cost and they are much faster than manual tests. Automated software testing can reduce the time to run repetitive tests from days to hours. A time savings that translates directly into cost savings.
Ethan H. Goodman, Digital Marketing Manager of DubSEO Limited, says, “All business growth is directly or indirectly tied to your ability to automate your business. The advantage of business automation is the ability to increase efficiency and productivity. People generally function well when they are put in positions that motivate them. The reality is that most routine activities aren’t motivating or exciting. This means that your employees will simply go through the motions without putting in 100 percent. The best part of business automation is that you spend less time on routine tasks by letting your software or outsourced agency handle that part of your business while you focus on growth and expansion.
Red Hat® works with the greater open source community, on automation technologies. Our engineers help improve features, reliability, and security to make sure your business and IT performs and remains stable and secure. As with all open source projects, Red Hat contributes code and improvements back to the upstream codebase—sharing advancements along the way.
Engineers can now have numerical control over automated devices. The result has been a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities. Computer-aided technologies (or CAx) now serve as the basis for mathematical and organizational tools used to create complex systems. Notable examples of CAx include Computer-aided design (CAD software) and Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM software). The improved design, analysis, and manufacture of products enabled by CAx has been beneficial for industry.
Once the software passes automated tests, it may be released into production (depending on the preferred rate of deployment). This process is called Continuous Delivery. The preferred frequency is the difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment. You achieve Continuous Delivery with the steps required for CI. The emphasis on automated testing (and automated builds) for quality assurance capitalizes on the efficiency of successful test automation and is essential to this practice.
A process automation or automation system (PAS) is used to automatically control a process such as chemical, oil refineries, paper and pulp factories. The PAS often uses a network to interconnect sensors, controllers, operator terminals and actuators. A PAS is often based on open standards in contrast to a DCS (distributed control system), which is traditionally proprietary. However in recent times the PAS is considered to be more associated with SCADA systems.
Analysis: In this phase, you review your organization’s infrastructure. Assess its requirements and objectives before performing a full review of the current systems, data needs, and business processes. Then select a technology solution based on its architectural design and its fit with the business. At this stage, external consultants who are experts in the technology are helpful.
QA ensures that no code is created without a requirement; that all code is reviewed -- and approved -- before final testing can begin; and that the tests that will run are planned upfront and are actually run. The company defines its work process model and someone in a QA role either checks off each step, or, perhaps, audits after the fact to make sure the team performed each step and checked the right boxes.
What if, the authors ask, we were to reframe the situation? What if we were to uncover new feats that people might achieve if they had better thinking machines to assist them? We could reframe the threat of automation as an opportunity for augmentation. They have been examining cases in which knowledge workers collaborate with machines to do things that neither could do well on their own—and they’ve found that smart people will be able to take five approaches to making their peace with smart machines.
Chandra Kandukuri is a Technical Test Lead at Microsoft with more than 16 years of software development experience in multiple environments, developing automation frameworks and tools. He advocates the use of TDD and dedicating the time and resources to do it well. Although it is relatively uncommon to see teams utilize TDD in his experience, Kandukuri recommends the method with automated software testing because of the positive teamwork habits it can promote.
Manufacturing automation began in 1913 with Henry Ford and the production of his signature Model T cars. With the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile, Ford revolutionized the production process and the automotive industry. With this radical change, assembly lines enabled each worker to refine their individual skill set, which delivered huge cost savings for every completed product.