Every project has three key criteria: speed, cost, and quality. A project can only ever meet two and eliminate the third, therefore a project can be quick and it can be cheap, but the quality can be lacking. It can be of the best quality and done quickly, but then it would not be cheap.
The definition of speed, cost, and quality varies from industry to industry, business to business, and sometimes also department to department. Technology has shifted these definitions significantly over the years, redefining what it means to be expensive, or the cost required to attain high quality.
Complex problems typically require complex solutions. Complex solutions necessitate expensive tools, which in turn necessitate rarefied skills, and therefore expensive human resources. Let’s take digitisation of products as an example, be it documents or otherwise. Thousands of items that need to be digitised in a uniform manner to be uploaded to a central repository: the cheapest solution with the highest associated quality is to employee human resources to continually scan items, correct, and upload. A cheap solution of relatively high quality that requires months of work to carry out.
The Solution: Microsoft Office Power Platform
Traditionally the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and optical character recognition (OCR) has been a novel solution to such problems for a long time. An AI model is trained to learn and understand documents, extract pertinent information, correct for poor quality scans or physical defects, but an AI solution requires costly resources and expensive tools, while shortening turnaround time significantly. This is a significant Capex cost for a one-off project that, when completed, will be shelved. With no long term prospects and significant upfront cost, such a solution is not valid for most small and medium organisations.
Or, has been so. The Power Platform, available in at least a rudimentary form as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, brings such powerful tools to any organisation, for a small monthly Opex. In a recent application of the Power Platform at iMovo for a large local retailer, the Power Platform was used to develop a mobile application, deployed on both iOS and Android, that then deployed pre-built AI models to extract information from product packaging and store it in Excel, for uploading onto a website later.
With a quick turnaround time, low cost, and high quality this retailer was able to speed up digitisation of foodstuffs by an order of magnitude, moving from several members of staff removing items from shelves to enter their details manually, in excel, and instead deploying said stuff on the shop floor, scanning items and uploading them into a central database using a smartphone and its camera.
The benefits are numerous. A low investment requirement means a project is valid even if it is a one-off cost, and a quick turnaround time powered by a new breed of RPA developers whose goal is optimal speed and efficiency with minimal cost. If you are interested in getting more information regarding a project, contact us here.