CTO Guide To The Business of Robotics

robot-drone-uavThe CTOvision guide to the business of robotics is designed to provide actionable insights into robots and robotics in a way that informs enterprise technology decision-makers.

Operating along a spectrum of human controlled to semi-autonomous to totally independent, robots are already operating in our world. They save lives in hospitals, are taking the place of humans in dangerous jobs, improve our oil exploration and farming, endure the hazards of outer space and now fight our wars. Soon they will make driving safe. Like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics hold great potential to displace large portions of the global workforce.

We believe all countries should assume they are in a race towards robotics manufacturing and we should plan to win that race. Right now we are not. The US stands the chance of losing to other regions if we do not lead with vision.

A snapshot of the megatrend of Robotics now indicates:

  • Robotic and AI technologies are growing more affordable, more capable and easier to use.
  • Like AI, Robotics hold great potential to displace large portions of the global workforce. Dec 2016 White House Report makes it clear that these benefits will cause disruption in the workforce. Workers who do not have skills to compete in an AI and Robotic future will suffer.
  • Robotic factories are already causing a large shift of manufacturing back from China to the US and we expect that trend to continue (but the bad news is that new robotic plants employ far fewer people).
  • Investments in robotic manufacturing will continue with manufacturing growing but employment not. Manufacturing will also begin to shift out of factories and into many other types of business enterprises. Imagine a near future where things are manufactured within miles of where they are sold/used.
  • By 2019, 35 percent of non-manufacturing businesses in several sectors will be using robotics to automate other aspects of their operations. Those sectors will include logistics, health, utilities and resources, according to IDC.
  • Among IDC’s other top 10 robotics predictions are: 1) growing use of a “robot-as-a-service” business model; 2) more enterprises with chief robotics officers; 3) an increasingly competitive robotic vendor marketplace; 4) growing demand for employees with robotics-related skills; 5) increased robotics regulations for safety, security and privacy; 6) more cloud-based robotic software; 7) development of smarter, faster and more “collaborative” robots; 8) a rise in commercial robots that are connected to an intelligent mesh network; and 9) greater use of robots in e-commerce-related warehouses and deliveries.
  • Robotic vehicles are coming, faster than many realize. Estimates are that robotic drivers will displace more jobs than any other category in the workforce.
  • More than 60% of surveyed Americans say they are somewhat or very positive about autonomous cars. But safety is still a concern. Currently 63% of consumers say they won’t feel safe in a fully-automated vehicle. We believe those numbers will shift in the favor of automation with time.

Open questions decision-makers should track include:

  • Will job displacement be a crisis?
  • How hard will it be to deceive robots? Will that make hacking even easier?
  • What is the role of behavioral analytics in detecting normalcy in robots?

The Impact of Robotics on Due Diligence:

The trends around Robotics are increasingly important element of corporate Due Diligence since it is disruptive business models.

  • On the sell side: Firms should ensure their use of automation including robotics is done securely and that mitigation strategies are in place for issues. Doing this before sale can make a big difference in how well a firm will be valued.
  • On the buy side: Buyers should pay particular attention to the deployment of automation to ensure a well thought out architecture that mitigates risks.

Strategically, the evaluation of firms is an art requiring assessment of how unique the capability is and how much in demand it will be in the market. We provide due diligence consulting via our consulting arm, OODA LLC.

A great way to track the emerging developments in this domain is our page on Robotic Companies.

For deeper considerations of the impact of Robotics on enterprise IT it is important to track all seven MegaTrends and consider them together. Dive deeper into all the trends and examine their impact on your organization via a CTOvision Pro membership, available for enterprises and individuals.

For alerts on future posts on this topic see CTOvision Newsletters.

Recent Reporting on Robotics:


Also see:

There are seven key megatrends driving the future of enterprise IT. You can remember them all with the mnemonic acronym CAMBRIC, which stands for Cloud ComputingArtificial IntelligenceMobilityBig DataRoboticsInternet of ThingsCyberSecurity.

Track the most disruptive technologies by diving into our categorized index:

Artificial Intelligence Companies – A fast overview of Artificial Intelligence companies we believe are poised to cause the most positive disruption in the enterprise.

Big Data Companies – Reference to the greatest, most disruptive Big Data companies in the tech ecosystem.

Business Intelligence Companies – We assess these to be the Business Intelligence Companies most impactful for delivering real decision advantage.

Cybersecurity Companies – We apply our deep expertise in cybersecurity to assessing the best across multiple categories including:

Cloud Computing Companies – We include both platform and software as a service providers, capturing only the most innovative and disruptive.

Collaborative Tool Companies – These are the firms that help humans connect to humans to create, manage and lead.

Infrastructure Companies – Critical enterprise foundations for business agility.

IoT Companies – Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things are here. How do you manage them?

Mobile Companies – Help manage, configure, secure and optimize these very powerful capabilities.

Robotics Companies – Including innovations in Robotic Process Automation, Drones, and industrial robotics.

Services Companies – We only track a few, the ones we really know well.

Tech Titans – These are the big players. We track the tech titans closely since their capabilities change continuously.

VC, PE and Finance Companies – Keeping an eye on the investors can give indications of coming developments.

You can also use our topical pages to get up to speed quickly on the current status of the major megatrends. See our pages on Cloud ComputingArtificial IntelligenceMobilityBig DataRoboticsInternet of ThingsCybersecurity and Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.

We also provide special pages focused on high interest topics, including Science FictionEntertainmentCyber WarTech CareersTraining and Education and Tech Tips.

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What do you think?

Bobbie Stempfley of Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute

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