PRESS RELEASE: The Burnie Group hosts #EDGETalks: Artificial Intelligence in Operations: Where Can AI Fit in My Organization?

TORONTO, October 30, 2018 — The Burnie Group is pleased to announce #EDGETalks: Artificial Intelligence in Operations: Where Can AI Fit in My Organization? Featuring a keynote address by Mike Rhodin, former SVP at IBM and founder of IBM’s Watson Group. Mr. Rhodin’s 33-year career at IBM was infused with a passion for helping clients extract value from technology, improving business performance, and simplifying the way people work. Mr. Rhodin’s keynote will provide insight on the ways that artificial intelligence and automation are reshaping operations, augmenting human capacity, and changing the future of work.

“AI has been called the fourth industrial revolution. It is hard to conceptualize just how incredibly transformative its potential is,” says Doug Heintzman, Head of Innovation at The Burnie Group.

#EDGETalks: Artificial Intelligence in Operations: Where Can AI Fit in My Organization? will take place on the evening of Wednesday, November 7, 2018, at The National Club. Following the keynote address, we will have a fireside chat featuring Kathryn Hume, Frank Tsiribis, and Mike Rhodin.

Kathryn Hume – Vice-President, Product and Strategy at integrate.ai
Frank Tsiribis – Head of Insight Strategies and Risk Management, Enterprise Infrastructure, Initiatives, and Innovation (EI3) at BMO Financial Group.

Increasingly, companies are investigating the potential implications of AI on their enterprise, and if and how they should adopt it. This event will help separate hype from reality and fact from fiction. It will identify some key areas where AI is changing the way business is done.

For tickets visit: https://ai-theburniegroup.eventbrite.ca

 

About The Burnie Group

The Burnie Group is a Canadian-based management consulting firm that helps clients improve their businesses through the application of innovative strategy, rigorous analysis, world-class technology, and the continuous pursuit of operations excellence.  The Burnie Group specializes in Strategy, Operations, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Workforce Management (WFM). Our programs deliver measurable, transparent, and guaranteed results.

Media Contact:
Bruna Sofia Simoes
Senior Marketing Manager
bruna.simoes@burniegroup.com
416-909-6379

Managing people in a time of automation

Managing people in a time of automation

As the presence of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in today’s workplaces continues to grow, the topic of job security and displacement becomes increasingly important for managers to consider.

With a widely held misconception that technology is a threat to traditional workforces, employers have an imperative to consider how RPA and AI will affect people and organizational culture when determining where and how these technologies should be used in their organizations.

Regardless of how well designed an RPA or AI strategy is, if the human side of implementing change is not a focal point of that strategy, it stands to fail. This article explores some tangible ways companies can approach change management, ensuring employee buy-in.

Automation, after all, is less about replacing employees and more about streamlining work processes. It allows an employee’s role to be redefined from a focus on mundane and repetitive tasks to one that is more complex, more value-added, and ultimately more meaningful.  Managed properly, automation can lead to a more engaged workforce.

Based on our experience designing and implementing broad-scale automation programs, we’ve identified three strategies that every organization should consider when adopting RPA and AI.

 

Prepare not just for automation, but for a cultural shift

When preparing for an automation project, managers are often tasked with developing a list of processes that AI and RPA can quickly improve. During this discovery phase managers also need to blueprint the broader impact of automation on people and culture. Such a blueprint can help to navigate the transition towards automation, identifying required changes to employee mindsets and behaviours and building an effective communication and change management plan.

By positioning automation and AI as employee allies—put in place to help alleviate staff from repetitive and mundane tasks—organizations can rally employees to become champions for technological advancement. For this to work, transparency is key. Conversations reminding employees that these technologies are tools that are supposed to work for them are fundamental to ensuring a smooth transition. Employees of all skill levels are better served when they understand how and why their work landscape is changing.

 

Encourage ongoing learning and development

In typical employee onboarding, time and resources are committed to ensuring staff are trained on the skills that are required to work effectively and efficiently. For many organizations, this is where learning and development starts and ends.  However, organizations that thrive know that ongoing learning is essential to both employee and company growth.

Automation and AI provide an excellent opportunity for organizations to re-invest in the skills and capabilities of their employees.  With the capacity that automation and AI unlock, time can be invested in training employees on more advanced skills.  Staff can be redeployed to work on more value-added activities, including customer-facing interactions and revenue-generating initiatives.  Automation and AI initiatives also require employee oversight and support, and current Subject Matter Experts are often well positioned to transition into an Automation or AI Centre of Excellence.  With a thoughtful approach to training and upskilling employees and designing new value-added roles, a transition to automation and/or AI can lead to a more rewarding work environment that motivates staff and boosts morale and engagement in the workplace.

A Burnie Group client recently illustrated how to positively engage employees while embracing automation. In addition to clearly communicating their automation strategy, our client gave employees the opportunity to be trained in automation core skills and join the automation Centre of Excellence to participate in the automation implementation.  Employees were also encouraged to identify automation opportunities in their work area, with the commitment that capacity released through RPA would be repurposed towards growth initiatives in the organization.   This approach made employees feel that they were a part of the automation transformation and resulted in a very positive attitude towards the change.

As AI and RPA become more prevalent in the workplace, employees that are equipped with future-proof skills will be less fearful of automation and better prepared to work alongside this technology.

 

Position your company as an innovator

People want to work for organizations that support and empower their employees, and automation can be a tool that enables this. An organization’s investment in technology can help position it as an innovator in its field, helping it to attract and retain top talent.

When organizations embrace innovation and build it into their “DNA” to —continuously reinvent work,  they reduce barriers to change and create an innovative culture where everyone wins.

One Burnie Group client implemented Robotic Process Automation as part of a broader strategic focus on innovation.  With innovation being core to the values of the company, RPA was viewed as a natural fit.  Rather than challenging the implementation and resisting change, employees sought ways to build RPA into their day-to-day work and leverage it to spend more of time with customers and on growth-focused initiatives.

 

Conclusion

Introducing AI and RPA into the workplace is no small undertaking. While most leaders address the effectiveness and efficiency gains that these technologies can deliver, truly successful leaders take a broader view to consider the best way to engage employees in the change.

Successful companies take the time to understand how automation can complement the work of employees and then invest in building a workplace where people and automation live in harmony.


Managing people in a time of automation


 By: Jenya Doudareva, Senior Associate

INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning

Machine Learning is the science of finding patterns in data and using those patterns to make predictions. It is the process by which, over time, machines (computers) are enabled without explicit programming, to learn, grow, and change autonomously through real-world interactions.  It is a subsect of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI refers to a computer system’s ability to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, communication, decision-making, planning, learning, and the ability to move and manipulate objects.

The infographic below explores the different applications of Machine Learning in a variety of industries, to learn more about AI and Machine Learning opportunities in your industry, please contact us for a free no-obligation discussion. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning


INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning


#EDGETalks: Actively Engaged – Leadership and Innovation in Building Employee Engagement

This post is based on a panel discussion held on June 4, 2018. The 90-minute session focused on panellists’ experiences shaping culture and fostering engagement in their companies. Moderated by Darshan Jain, Head Technology and Operations of The Burnie Group, Norman Bacal, author and former managing partner, Heenan Blaikie LLP delivered the keynote and the panellists were Richard Anton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at CIBC Mellon, Cathie Brow, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Communications, Revera, Christina McClung, Vice President, Human Resources and Chief of Staff, Capital One, and Rob Lokinger, President and Chief Operating Officer, AppCentrica Inc.

#EDGETalks: Actively Engaged – Leadership and Innovation in Building Employee Engagement  Many companies hire the best and the brightest to seize new opportunities and increase profits. Unfortunately, impressive résumés don’t always translate to an engaged employee base or a stimulating and innovative workplace culture. Individual contributors who once brimmed with enthusiasm and new ideas now only raise their heads to check the time. Regardless of systems put in place or reorganizations, teams struggle to get ahead.

Culture and engagement can be forgotten or an afterthought when setting and executing corporate strategies. Leaders should consider the mindsets and behaviours needed to support their company’s vision and goals.

 

How does culture fit within your corporate strategy?

You need to define the workplace culture required for teams to meet targets and create new opportunities. Whether team-centric, focused on high potentials, honed on improving shareholder value, (etc.), a culture strategy needs to be determined as well as its supporting tactics.

“You need to decide what your cultural imperative is, as part of your corporate strategy,” says Norman Bacal. “Once you understand what it is, it ought to put you in the direction of your tactics, day-to-day behaviours, and ultimately whom you recruit to your vision.”

Bacal offers three pieces of advice for leaders looking to set, change or improve corporate culture:

1. Be consistent

Policies, programs, and behaviours must align with culture vision and not vary across your organization regardless of geography or environment. Employee trust grows when words and actions align. If you, your peers, or other leaders say one thing and do another, you risk damaging your and the company’s credibility.

“Never confuse strategy with tactics. If you take those tactics and separate them from your cultural vision, they won’t work. In fact, they do the opposite of what you want and can build a level of cynicism, because you need to be consistent between your vision and execution.”

2. Recognize the importance of your front-line staff on a regular basis

#EDGETalks: Actively Engaged – Leadership and Innovation in Building Employee Engagement  It’s easy to focus attention on only senior management or those with “star” quality. In fact, it’s the public’s or client’s first point of contact—receptionists, service agents, or call centre employees—who can be the linchpin to your organization’s success. They are often your company’s face and voice and some of your most valuable employees. Telling them you recognize this signals you understand their role and you appreciate what they do.

“I’d arrive in the morning and say to the receptionist, ‘You’re the most important person in this firm.’ If you say that once to somebody, they won’t believe you; if you say that to them on a regular basis, they begin to believe it.”

3. Walk the halls

It’s unlikely your staff will proactively tell you what’s happening or their collective mood. The best way to know these is to step outside your office and talk to employees. Have informal chats—saying “hello” and finding out how they’re doing or how their family is will help build goodwill and trust. Ask your leaders to do the same.

“It’s the small things you may consider completely insignificant to your life that have a huge impact on other people’s lives.”

Engaging your employees while building corporate culture

We know a strong corporate culture can be a competitive advantage when attracting employees or securing clients. When a company decides to define or redefine their culture, change doesn’t occur overnight: it takes time to learn and develop traits and behaviours. While organizations can launch campaigns focused on ethics, teamwork, or client-centric service, successful shifts often happen when leaders commit to and model desired behaviours and attitudes.

Who are engaged employees?

Engaged employees go above and beyond so the company realizes its corporate vision and strategies. Working isn’t “just a job” or a paycheque. They are front and centre when needed most. As individuals, they proactively update their skillset to be part of the organization’s future. They are active problem solvers and offer ideas to help shape the company.

“I really think engagement has to do with people’s passion and enthusiasm. We have a really great vision for our company that touches everybody. Employees need to feel connected—if they aren’t, they’re not going to be able to deliver the service we expect from them.”

~ Cathie Brow, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Communications, Revera

How do you build employee engagement?

Smart strategies and tactics build, maintain, and grow engagement over time. They are rolled out at the corporate level and supported by leaders.

Corporate tactics

Your corporate values should be defined, so everyone understands what they are and how to bring them life. You need to ensure all levels, especially C-suite and other senior leaders, walk the talk. Otherwise, employees will see the disconnection and may assume a double standard.

Find different ways to involve employees in corporate programs. Corporate Social Responsibility projects (such as Habitat for Humanity builds, sorting food bank donations, or registering teams for a charity bike ride) or internal problem-solving competitions for specific issues (ranging from hackathons to projects resolving client pain points) are more than team-building exercises: They reinforce company values and allow staff to participate in corporate projects in fun, meaningful, and non-financial ways.

Take the time to listen to your employees and don’t immediately jump to prescribing remedies. Instead, ask your employees for their ideas and implement solutions that need little lead-time (before putting into place more complex ideas). This way, you signal you hear your staff. Similarly, staff input when setting up a formal recognition program is important—don’t assume a gala or dinner with the CEO would appeal to the majority.

“Alignment around the right goals and cultural imperators yields great benefits. It carries through when people interact with each other and with customers. We founded our company on four principles that really defined our culture. They’re used to make our hiring decisions, evaluate people and make sure we have the right approach within our organization.”

~ Rob Lokinger, President and Chief Operating Officer, AppCentrica Inc.

Individual leaders’ tactics

Your behaviour, attitude, and presence go a long way in shaping corporate culture. Sit with your team to get a feel for their day-to-day environment and issues. Be seen. Have informal chats with specialists and coordinators as well as more senior staff at their desks or in the cafeteria. Encourage peers and people leaders under you to do the same.

Trust in leadership is essential. Employees want to see the genuine you. Façades won’t gain their trust and may make you harder to follow. Your actions need to be consistent, and you must deliver on your commitments.

Celebrate team wins, but also find ways that are personal to you to congratulate or acknowledge staff accomplishments. Equally crucial is being there and supporting your staff in challenging times.

“My role is about fostering the kind of culture and principles we want. It’s about how I handle myself every single day, and also how I expect my management team to handle themselves. I am a firm believer that if I display those characteristics, those traits across the organization, that’s when people start to buy into that idea that it’s not more than a one-off that’s quickly forgotten.”

~ Richard Anton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at CIBC Mellon

 

How do you measure culture?

#EDGETalks: Actively Engaged – Leadership and Innovation in Building Employee Engagement  Annual and biannual employee satisfaction and sentiment surveys may not be helpful because they are lagging indicators. Instead, get timely feedback by measuring employee experience after critical points in their tenure: onboarding, first three months, performance reviews (etc.). Ask questions about diversity and inclusion, and track indicators such as employee referrals and attrition rates.

“It’s hard to measure feelings, but we try. I think there’s a lot to be said about the anecdotal feedback—look at what you might measure. I think some measurements that can be found along with the survey scores. Make sure you deep dive into topics where people are feeling engaged and the various contributors, such as enablement to getting work done.”

~ Christina McClung, Vice President, Human Resources and Chief of Staff, Capital One

Working with an experienced partner can help build and improve your employee engagement. Choose a partner who can efficiently lead the project, keep it on track, and who will develop your internal capabilities. The Burnie Group will help you to set the right strategy and build the right foundation. Contact us to learn more about employee engagement.

 


#EDGETalks: Actively Engaged – Leadership and Innovation in Building Employee Engagement


The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and intertwined concepts such as machine learning and predictive modelling have become indispensable in modern industries. It is often estimated that by 2030, AI will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy.  AI has the potential to transform a wide number of industries. All over the world, AI is helping people do their jobs more effectively, from doctors who diagnose sepsis in patients to scientists who track endangered animals in the wild. In this article, we explore some of the more unusual uses of AI.

Rather than creating ominous issues for humankind, AI is helping people around the world do their jobs more effectively, including doctors who diagnose sepsis in patients and scientists who track endangered animals in the wild.

Below are some of the most unusual uses of AI that provide value to our society and go beyond their traditional and widely applied usages across industries.

 

Helping People

Rescue Missions

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  AI technology is helping first responders find victims of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.

Normally, responders need to examine aerial footage to determine where people could be stranded. However, examining a vast amount of photos and drone footage is very time and labour intensive; this is a problem as time is a critical factor for victims’ survival.

AI developed at Texas A&M University permits computer programmers to write basic algorithms that can examine extensive footage and find missing people in less than two hours.

 

Diagnosing Sepsis

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, but it is treatable if identified promptly. When not identified in time, patients can experience organ failure or even death. Today, AI algorithms that analyse electronic medical records data can help physicians diagnose sepsis an average of 24 hours earlier than previously used methods, according to the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. The AI system, called Targeted Real-Time Early Warning System (TREWScore) can also be used to monitor other conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

 

Better Surgeries and Prosthetics

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Surgical robotics today are machine learning-enabled tools that provide doctors with extended precision and control. These robots enable shortening the patients’ hospital stay, positively affecting the surgical experience, and reducing medical costs.

Mind-controlled robotic arms and brain chip implants have begun helping paralyzed patients regain not only mobility but also sensations of touch. Machine learning and AI are further helping these technologies improve the patient experience.

 

Earth and Wildlife

Robot Bees

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Bees are indispensable to crop pollination, however, they are very susceptible to pesticides, diseases, and other environmental concerns that lead to their fragile populations dwindling. To ensure that these concerns do not lead to famine, researchers have developed a robot bee drone that incorporates artificial intelligence, GPS, and a high-resolution camera to pollinate in a manner similar to honeybees.

 

Tracking Wildlife Populations

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Applications like iNaturalist and eBirds, that collect data from vast circles of experts on the species encountered, are helping to keep track of species populations, favourable ecosystems, and migration patterns. These applications also have an important role in the better identification and protection of marine and freshwater ecosystems.

 

Wildlife Poaching Prevention

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Wildlife poaching is a global problem as species get hunted toward extinction. For example, the latest African census showed a 30 per cent decline in elephant populations between 2007 and 2014. Wildlife conservation areas have been established to protect these species from poachers, and these areas are protected by park rangers. The rangers, however, do not always have the resources to patrol the vast areas efficiently. Predictive modelling has been used and tested in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park to predict poaching threat levels. Such models can be used to generate efficient and feasible patrol routes for the park rangers.

 

Smart Agriculture

The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence  Neural networks are starting to be used to deliver smart agricultural solutions. Besides the use of both artificial and bio-sensor driven algorithms to provide a complete monitoring of the soil and crop yield, there are technologies that can be used to provide predictive analytic models to track and predict various factors and variables that could affect future yields.

For example, Berlin-based agricultural tech startup PEAT has developed a deep learning algorithm-based application called Plantix that can identify defects and nutrient deficiencies in the soil. Their algorithms correlate particular foliage patterns with certain soil defects, plant pests, and diseases.

 


The Most Unusual Uses of Artificial Intelligence


 By: Jenya Doudareva, Senior Associate