March 2, 2008

Robotics and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is about engineering the organization—people (the who), process (the how), and technology (as the enabler). However, the people and technology aspects to the organization are reaching a convergence through robotics.

The Associated Press, 2 March 2008, reports that “Japan Looks to a Robot Future.”

For Japan, the robotics revolution is an imperative. With more than a fifth of the population 65 or older, the country is banking on robots to replenish the work force and care for the elderly.”

How big is the projection for robotics in Japan?

“The government estimates the industry could surge from about $5.2 billion in 2006 to $26 million in 20101 and nearly $70 billion by 2025.

“A 2007 national technology roadmap by the Trade Ministry calls for 1 million industrial robots to be installed throughout the country by 2025. [And] a single robot can replace about 10 employees…thats about 15% of the current workforce.”

“Robotics are the cornerstone of Japan’s international competitiveness.”

“The cost of machinery [like robots] is going down, while labor costs are rising.”

What type do jobs do the robots currently perform?

“Japan is already an industrial robot powerhouse. Over 370,000 robots worked at factories across Japan in 2005, about 40% of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees.”

“There are robots serving as receptionists, vacuuming office corridors, spoon-feeding the elderly. They serve tea to company guests, and chatter away at public technology displays. Now startups are marching out robotic home helpers.

What are some challenges with robotics?

  1. Inanimate—robots do not feel emotions and have a conscience like humans do; they cannot interact with human in a truly personal, natural, and meaningful way.
  2. Cost—“for all its research, Japan has yet to come up with a commercially successful, consumer robot” for the mass market.

From a User-centric EA perspective, we need to plan, invest, and transition for the new robotic revolution—it is at our threshold and will bring together and augment the information age we are in and the drive for process reengineering and improvement. Robotics is the natural evolution of machine/computer and human interface for providing information and performing processes for ourselves and our organizations.

As Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says: “One day, they will live among us. Then you’d have to ask me: ‘Are you human? Or a robot?’


No comments: