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Utilizing Robots for Human Engagement

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Utilizing Robots for Human Engagement
by System Administrator - Wednesday, 29 March 2017, 9:11 PM
Group Colaboradores y Partners

Utilizando Robots para el Compromiso Humano

Utilizing Robots for Human Engagement

by ADITYA KAUL - Research Director & CLINT WHEELOCK - Managing Director

Benefits and Challenges, Use Cases and Industry Verticals, and Business Considerations

Humanoid robots are starting to see application in customer engagement roles, armed with advanced facial recognition, emotion recognition, and speech recognition capabilities, and driven by recent improvements in artificial intelligence (AI).  This technology leap is happening against the backdrop of the smartphone, web, and social media becoming primary customer engagement channels.  Humanoid robots provide a playbook for customer engagement, and can be viewed as an evolutionary step from self-service kiosks to conversational commerce, combining the two in smart and unique ways.  Retail is not the only vertical market that is well positioned to take advantage of robots.  Financial services, healthcare, travel and hospitality, and quick service restaurants (QSRs) are all expected to see the benefits of customer engagement innovation through robots.

However, humanoid robots need to overcome a number of challenges, especially when they are being used for direct, face-to-face engagement with customers.  As these robots become more human-like, there is a danger that they could fall into the phenomenon known as the “uncanny valley”, with human likeability turning quickly from empathy to revulsion.  Social and cultural factors also need to be taken into account, with Japanese and Korean cultures being much more accepting and familiar with robots, compared to Western cultures.  Social and cultural factors also play a role in designing the best user interface/user experience (UI/UX) for robots, which would help meet business objectives.  The high cost of humanoid robots can also be a barrier to their adoption, with the right financing and leasing options being as critical as the robot itself.  With the cost of high-end humanoid robots similar to that of an entry-level sales associate, it is not hard to see why there could be fear and insecurity among existing employees.  Brick and mortar businesses need to carefully balance human labor concerns as they pilot and deploy these robots.

In order to take full advantage of robots in a customer engagement setting and enable the full suite of in-store analytics, IT integration and maintenance becomes as critical as the front-end interface.  The future adoption of humanoid robots also depends on how successfully they are able to take on the role of platforms, bringing on developers that drive unique and innovative applications.  With customer engagement being such a critical part of brick and mortar businesses, it is time for humanoid robots to start to be seen as a tool for human augmentation, rather than being viewed as an automated replacement.  Customer engagement is about connecting to the customer on a personal level, and today’s humanoid robots are capable of making that human connection.

This Tractica white paper examines the market drivers for humanoid robots in customer engagement roles, identifies some of the key challenges for robots in such roles, and explores the key use cases and industry verticals that will drive adoption for robots in customer engagement during the next several years.  The main use cases include receptionist, product hero, e-commerce, customer surveys, entertainment, counter clerk, and waiter.  The key industry verticals are retail, travel and hospitality, financial services, quick service restaurants, and healthcare.  This white paper was commissioned by SoftBank Robotics.

Please read the attached whitepaper.


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