Opinion: Why ‘robotics as a service’ is on its way

It feels like everything is a cloud service these days, and it turns out that includes robotics. Robotics as a Service (RaaS) is quickly growing into a multi-billion dollar industry. An International Data Corporation report said that in 2015, global robotics spending was at $71 billion.

The report also stated that worldwide spending on robotics and related services are to hit $135.4 billion by 2019. According to research manager John Santagate at IDC Manufacturing Insights, “robotic capabilities continue to expand while increasing investment in robot development is driving competition and helping to bring down the costs associated with robots.” The industrial use of robots not only can cut costs, but it also drives a great transformation for customer experience.

In the healthcare sector, institutions are using robots to talk to each other to combine data that can be spread across multiple databases. Rather than build new integrations across the existing databases or replace them, institutions can instead, create a digital nurse that will gather relevant information from each database creating a simpler solution and lower risk option. A robot is installed in each back end system that consolidates and displays the needed information on a mobile device in real time.

In the consumer world, many startups are starting to build chatbots to be used in customer service processes. Chatbots can be used within already existing chat technology such as WhatsApp or Google Messenger.

As an overall view, service robotics offer a large advantage in taking over certain industry tasks that could be deemed tough, risky or even mundane. Ordinary daily tasks that require little effort can be quickly taken over with robots that provide a high degree of accuracy. At the moment, the manufacturing sector purchases the most robots and related services and it’s no wonder. Factories and assembly lines are one of the best areas to implement robotics. Process manufacturing companies that develop products based on formulas or recipes such as drugs or sodas have greatly benefitted from the infallible accuracy that robotics have offered. Not far behind the manufacturing industry, however, is the healthcare sector with projections of spending to double by 2019.

The global service robotics market has been projected to surpass 18 million units by 2020 with an expected CAGR of 23.7 percent from 2014 to 2020. The main factor that drives the industry is the demand for decreasing labor costs in developed countries and the growing occurrence of supported living. More and more companies have started to enter the industry hoping to evolve and refine automation techniques and user-end customer services.

RaaS can also be used to leverage the cloud making it possible to embed devices on the web and cloud computing environments. An obvious use for including cloud capabilities in robots is its use in stores, warehouses and distribution centres allowing businesses to never be “sold out” of hot items. Data captured by robots through video analytics or RFID tags like inventory and customer preferences can all be stored on a hybrid cloud-based system or all flash storage.

RaaS providers can handle maintenance along with integration of the robots and databases used within enterprises. Not only does this cut costs, but it also makes management and scalability easier along with offering greater flexibility. As technologies are expanded and innovated, robots will soon be more integrated with cloud servers and intelligent digital environments only meant to create smarter business networks. Rather than peg robots as merely a product, robots as a service can create new and better business models making things easier on our budgets and end products.