Autonomics reduce overhead while increasing productivity

Autonomics refers to enterprise systems that are self-managing, self-optimizing, and self-healing. They streamline business procedures by automating routine tasks all along a value chain, but also go a step further and use artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and optimize cognitive tasks related to decision making. The end result is lowered costs through reduced reliance on human labor, alongside increase efficiency. Following an initial investment, autonomic technologies clear the path to accelerated growth, savings, and financial impact.


The next chapter in growth

The physical automations of the industrial era increased the average US factory worker’s financial output by a factor of eight from the 1940s to the 2010s. As technological evolution accelerated over the past century, so did output (a process which continues to this day, even as the manufacturing labor force has declined over the past three decades). Now, as machines begin to compliment the human workforce through the automation of cognitive and transactional tasks in addition to physical ones, the potential for financial impact opens up even further.

In autonomic systems, humans still set the high-level objective, but technology takes over from there. For example, an autonomic system in charge of inventory for a consumer electronics store might be tasked with a high-level goal of consistently meeting consumer demand. At the most basic level, this would include tracking warehouse inventory and automatically re-ordering whenever inventories get low. However, autonomic systems might tap into external data sources to anticipate future demand (e.g. how new gadgets are selling in other regions, how much anticipation is there for a new TV in the run-up to the holiday season, or even the number of previous customers who last purchased a laptop more than four years ago) — this additional data allows the system to forecast inventory needs with a high level of accuracy.

As machines begin to compliment the human workforce through the automation of cognitive and transactional tasks in addition to physical ones, the potential for financial impact opens up.

In a previous technical era, achieving this level of efficiency would take the coordination of many employees (someone in the warehouse to keep atop of inventory, someone in the front-end to track sales, someone to research relevant data points, and someone to order up new inventory). With autonomics, the entire system can be handled with limited human input, which drives down overhead costs while enhancing revenue streams.

This isn’t a futuristic scenario, this type of “living” system is delivering financial benefits right now. According to a report from McKinsey, the German e-commerce merchant Otto is “using deep learning to analyze billions of transactions and predict what customers will buy before they place an order.” The implementation has cut surplus stock by 20% and reduced product returns by more than two million items a year. However, the system isn’t merely calculating demand, it has the autonomy to independently place orders. As the report says, “The system is 90% accurate in forecasting what the firm will sell over the next 30 days, so Otto allows it to order 200,000 items a month from vendors with no human intervention.”

Autonomics enabled Otto to increase its efficiency while lowering overhead, but this is just a taste of what autonomics can offer. As intelligent sensors, ubiquitous wireless networks, robotics, and advanced AI technologies continue to evolve, these systems will only become more capable over time and deliver an even greater financial impact.


Creating a living enterprise system

At the root of autonomics is “autonomy,” which is what these systems strive for – limited human oversight. Autonomic systems in the human brain subconsciously handle complex biologic functions without us even being aware (it’s why your liver just works, even though you may not know exactly where your liver is). In the enterprise-space, autonomic systems execute complex actions with humans only providing top-level commands.

Automated enterprise service platforms like 1Desk can help enterprises take advantage of autonomic functionality. These systems become even more user-friendly when used in conjunction with digital colleagues like Amelia who combine an industry-leading natural language interfaces with end-to-end functionality and machine learning capabilities. She opens access to a company’s autonomic infrastructure to all users regardless of technical proficiency – a perfect user-interface for this new generation of enterprise systems.

When we allow enterprise systems to handle the heavy lifting of business procedures, we free humans use their innately human creativity to bring new solutions and products. Savings in overhead can be reinvested in these creative solutions, which can generate new revenue streams. Autonomics opens a world of potential financial savings and opportunities.