Artificial intelligence has revolutionized the way businesses operate. Specifically, AI has unlocked new opportunities for businesses to become more productive, efficient, and innovative. AI is shaping nearly every industry, and software development is no exception.
Matt Fairhurst, CEO of Skedulo, knows this better than most—his company’s deskless productivity platform uses AI to help businesses optimize their workforces. The platform’s AI and machine learning feature, called MasterMind, focuses on the priorities and variables that matter most to businesses, including workforce utilization rate, operating cost, travel time, and more.
Fairhurst spoke with IT Business Edge about AI in the job market, the risks of AI integration in software development, and how Skedulo has used AI to transform the mobile workforce.
How AI Is Augmenting the Mobile Workforce
Artificial intelligence is often talked about as the future replacement for human intelligence. AI is a long way away from taking over for humans, but it has started helping humans in the workplace. Across all industries, AI helps workers spend less time doing repetitive, menial tasks and more time looking at the bigger picture.
Some industries are more inclined toward automation than others. As Fairhurst puts it, “Relative to industries such as financial services or high-tech, field service isn’t as innovative. Despite the hype of AI, adoption has been relatively slow. We estimate that 20-30% of field service jobs currently rely on some type of AI, but adoption is definitely accelerating.”
Field service workers might not be the first in line to adopt AI technology as part of their roles, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely left out of the conversation. Many analog businesses are looking to adopt AI software as the first step on their digital transformation journey.
“We’re seeing more and more traditional businesses hire full-time software developers to stay competitive. It’s a great time to be a developer — demand for digital transformation solutions has never been higher,” says Fairhurst.
Risks of Integrating AI With Software Development
AI integration in any field is not without its risks. Security and privacy are major concerns, but so is the longevity of such an advanced technology. To this end, Fairhurst explains that companies wanting to dip their toes in the AI waters will likely face an uphill battle.
“One of the biggest risks with AI software development is its long-term viability,” he says. “AI is very sophisticated and oftentimes a very delicate type of software, and it’s hard enough to get it working, let alone keep it working over the long haul.”
Long-term strategy is key to AI software development and implementation. It may be tempting to do things that will save time and money, but that could have disastrous consequences in the long run.
“To ensure success over the long term,” Fairhurst says, “businesses need to be particularly planful and avoid cutting corners during development. Rushing to market with half-baked technology in this space will be disastrous.”
Failure to plan adequately could ultimately cause more delays and cost more money, so it’s important to focus on fine-tuning the details rather than implementing the software before it’s ready.
The Role of AI in Skedulo’s Software
According to research from Skedulo, 58 percent of deskless workers feel their job has become more difficult since COVID-19, and 86 percent of IT executives claim worker productivity is negatively impacted by their existing technology. Only a slim segment of the software industry focuses on addressing the needs of deskless workers, which is entirely disproportionate to the majority (80 percent) of workers who are not in a traditional office setting.
To confront this challenge, Skedulo is consistently looking for new ways to help the deskless workforce leverage the impact of artificial intelligence. The most recent innovation has come in the form of MasterMind Solvers, which are scenario-specific optimization algorithms that address the inefficiencies deskless workers often face. Like other AI-based applications, Skedulo’s machine learning capabilities reveal patterns and trends that help businesses automate repetitive tasks.
Furthermore, Fairhurst describes the MasterMind enhancements as a way for organizations to make smarter and faster scheduling decisions based on user-defined variables. “MasterMind Solvers enable users to easily rank scheduling variables by importance and automate schedules accordingly,” he says. “This can significantly reduce travel time, distance, and cost per hour for deskless workers and organizations while maximizing work capacity, increasing workforce utilization, and best matching worker and job attributes.”
Artificial intelligence and machine learning features in solutions like Skedulo help businesses make their day-to-day operations more efficient. As nearly every industry is discovering the power of automation and smart technologies, it’s becoming clear that organizations closed off to these innovations will likely be left behind.