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Remote Intelligence vs. Telecommuting

Discuss about the Medical Robotics and Computer Integrated System.

With the advent of technology and globalization, there has been huge changes in the world and the organizational style of working. At the same time, while organizations get access to newer markets and huge talent pool, customers also get larger number of choices and increased their bargaining power. However, there are also challenges in the world that are acting as a roadblock to globalization to some extent. For instance, there are many countries that have started putting restrictions on immigrants to protect the jobs in their countries. Similarly, there are political tensions and crime in some countries due to which people are not willing to travel and as a result, these nations have lack of talented people in some of the professions in spite of this globalized world. Remote intelligence is one such evolutionary concept that will solve this problem where intelligence can be leveraged remotely with the help of robots. This concept is still in nascent stages and lot of work needs to be done in this area however the speed with which technology is changing suggests that it will only be a matter of time before remote intelligence become way of working in organizations. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the remote intelligence, what is it, how it can be leveraged, pros and cons of this technology and the leadership skills needed to manage remote intelligence.

With the advent of technology, digitalisations, smart devices, it becomes possible to work from the comfort of your home or location remotely. Around 1/3rd of Americans works from their home, café or any other place other than their office and this trend is constantly on the rise (Glass, & Noonan, 2016). This concept has its roots in 1990s when the leaders and organizations started realizing that if the employees are given more freedom and flexibility to work, they will be better able to manage their personnel and professional obligations (Yao, Tan, & Ilies, 2017). Organizations realised that it does not matter for them whether the employees are coming to office or not as long as their work is not impacted and they remain productive. There are large number of jobs that can be performed using internet and as the internet begun to penetrate, idea of telecommuting also started becoming popular. There were organisations like Dell that have realized how the telecommuting is able to help the company in saving millions (Deng, Mokhtarian, & Circella, 2015). For instance, if the employees work remotely, there will be less electricity, less water and beverages consumed that would make it great for the organizations. However, there were not many benefits of telecommuting because gradually the organizations realized that communications skills increases between people and also there is lack of network and close relationships that is necessary to get some real complex work done and also most of the great ideas have evolved from informal discussion around coffee and so (Matos, & Galinsky, 2015). As a result, there is increase in separate workplaces as people work from different workplaces.

Benefits of Remote Intelligence

Remote intelligence is already used in the field of healthcare industry and some hospitals however as this concept is still in nascent stages and has limitations that needs to be fixed, it is not adopted in a mainstream manner. However, as per the research papers, this idea can be much more disruptive than artificial intelligence. In artificial intelligence, there is focus on self-learning. Robots learns gradually and store it in their memory and improve their responses over a period of time. Some of the basic and necessary things can be programmed in robots to get them started.

However, In case of remote intelligence, Robots will be operated entirely from a remote location. It can be as good as using globalized workforce without their presence at on site. For the organizations and corporations, the benefits are immense as they will be able to take the services of people from low wage countries to operate the Robots at their sites (Hastie, et al., 2018). This will provide new work opportunities for people in developing countries as well as cost saving for the organizations. For instance, consider the example of worker in Brazil cleaning the hotel room in Germany. This can be possible by the use of Robots by the hotel in Germany that will be operated by the people in Brazil. Apart from these, there are some nations like Iraq, Syria and other undeveloped and poor nations where there is serious lack of healthcare facilities (Tirgul, & Naik, 2016). Remote intelligence can be leveraged by the world’s top hospitals to set up their chains in those countries and help giving the better medical services to local people by using robot that will be operated from top doctors and Surgeons in developed nations (Hoffman, et al., 2016).

Apart from this, other examples of remote intelligence are telemedicine and tele surgery in which patients are diagnosed as well as operated by the Robots which are not operated by artificial intelligence but by remote intelligence (Taylor, et al., 2016). Clearly, Remote intelligence has overcome the problem of physical distance between the Doctor and patient.

Remote intelligence is quite different than telecommuting. It can be thought of a blend of crowdsourcing, globalization, cost effective strategy and also that move the organization 1 step close to automation. For instance, in crowdsourcing, organization invites the idea from everyone by running a contest and gives prizes to winners. In this, organization can get large number of ideas without employing the full time people and it is cost effective also. In remote intelligence also, organization can take the services of people across the globe to operate their robots to perform meaningful tasks on a need basis. Apart from this, it also provides large number of cost benefits to the company in comparison to telecommuting. Telecommunication is only the flexibility which is used to attract the workforce that allows that to work from any location however workforce salary will not be impacted whether they work from office or any other location. The only thing company is able to save is little operational costs. However, In remote intelligence, there is difference if you are taking the services of the people of America or people of India as organization has to pay based on the prevailing wage rates in that country and hence organization can make use of lower wages in some countries. Apart from this, there is little operational costs in remote intelligence also and organization can take the services whenever required instead of a full time employment. Apart from this, organizations need not to hire specialists people in each of their facility or country, they can simply hire 1 specialized person who can then guides the operations of other sites in a remote manner. For instance, for a hospital specialist in Orthopaedic surgeries, 1 surgeon can operate the people in multiple branches and thus able to save a cost of company as well as also able to compensate for the shortage of some real skills (Wang, et al., 2016).

Enabler of Remote Intelligence

Technological advancement is the main enabler for the remote intelligence. Remote intelligence has still not become a part of mainstream usage because of several open questions about the data security sharing and once the researchers will successfully resolve that, it will be far more disruptive than artificial intelligence (Bellotto, Carmona, & Cosar, 2017). Going to a more granular level, internet and software development are also the main enablers. For instance, internet gives the connectivity to different parts of the world, connectivity with a world wide web and at the same time, software developments gives the various effective ways to improve the communication. For instance, Video chat, real time sharing of desktop, remote operation of a computer, emails are all the software that have an impact in making this concept of remote intelligence one step closer to a reality. When the concept of cloud computing has come, people were against the idea due to lack of security and privacy, however the idea gradually evolved and it’s a reality now (Stuart, et al., 2015). Today, Amazon web services that was the oldest player in Cloud services has also forced the other technology competitors like Google, Microsoft, Oracle to launch their cloud services. Remote intelligence will also face a strong resistance from the people because people will be unsure about themselves and their jobs with the advent of remote intelligence however a strong change management team, visionary leadership team and effective communication can help the organization to implement this gradually starting with a pilot project (Izhikevich, Laurent, & Petre, 2-15). Apart from the regular service monotonous job, it also has huge application in high end quality work where there is serious dearth of the manpower.

During the past several year, remote intelligence has already been applied in the healthcare industry where there is a serious lack of good doctors, surgeons with specialized skills. Thus, while one school of thought will say that it is a threat to modern workforce but it can also be seen as a boon where a same resource can be leveraged or utilized in multiple locations simultaneously (Rahmani, et al., 2015). In US itself, it takes a weeks and sometimes months to take an appointment from a surgeon. Now, consider a scenario when a robot will be used for treating patients by taking the instructions remotely, it will tremendously improve the condition of the healthcare industry. Having said that, remote intelligence can still be a threat when the people doing the routing jobs will be replaced by the people in low wages country through the use of remote intelligence (Oyekan, et al., 2017). Apart from this, whenever some disruptive technology evolve, there is always fear but it gradually trim down. For instance, currently there is lot of focus on automations by the technology giants and the mundane tasks have already been replaced by the use of automated software. This has led to reduction in jobs but also creation of jobs in another area (McClure, 2017). Thus, it becomes important in this knowledge based industry to constantly learn new things and update the skills set to keep employment.

Challenges of Remote Intelligence

Remote intelligence is a very sensitive topic currently and thus it is important that all the users of this concept should not only be aware of various ethical practices associated with it but also makes it’s a practice to follow it. Data security and Data privacy are the 2 biggest concerns. For instance, when the organization is taking the services remotely from the people in operating their robots, there is always fear of losing the data as well questions on the security for data. Encryption techniques should be used. Apart from this, the entire network should be highly secure so that no hacker can interrupt and can take the control of Robot. Ethical concerns can be managed by having secure systems, using advanced technology techniques and by strong use of policies guidelines, contracts and penalties in case of any breach.

One of the key benefit is the potential of tremendous cost savings for the organizations by using this technique. Also, there are several areas like healthcare Industry and Scientists where there is serious lack of manpower, this areas will get boost by the use of application of remote intelligence 1.        (Huang, et al., 2017). Another advantage is that people do not want to travel to some countries due to crime, culture, political tension but remote intelligence help those isolated nations by providing the manpower who can operate the robots in those nations (Denkenberger, Way, & Pearce, 2015).

Setting up the infrastructure for the entire process can be huge task in terms of money. Also, technology glitches like poor network, possibility of hacking, data privacy and security risks are also there. There will also be loss of control and if the robot faces some unforeseen challenge and unable to communicate back to person, it can be disastrous. Also, it will shorten the face to face communications and sometimes there are minor things like face expressions and body languages that remain for one tenth of a second, it is difficult for the operator to get those insights (Contadopoulos, Pham, & Prasad, 2016).

Due to the complexity involved in the implementation as well as resistance of change among the workforce, seasoned leaders are needed with huge experience in dealing with such complex and disruptive projects (Zhu, & Lee, 2017). Leaders have a role in making people understand about it through the use of effective communication and also using change management team to help the transition. It will also be good to provide incentives for the people to make them motivated and make them feel if they are the owner of the project (Makarius, & Larson, 2017). Leaders must also makes people follow all the ethical practices and should also frame the standard operating procedures in various situation and enforce them on the people not by force but by effective communication and convincing them about a need for change.

Ethical Practices in Remote Intelligence

Conclusion

Remote intelligence is an evolving concept still in nascent stages. Though, it has been applied and successful in healthcare industry, its application is limited in other industries due to various challenges like management challenge, technology challenge etc. associated with it. This paper discusses the concept of remote intelligence through the use of examples like drones and healthcare surgeries and also differentiates it from telecommuting. Apart from this, it also discusses about the pros and cons of this technology. Also, while some are concerns about its impact on the employment sustainability in the developed countries, it is also a boon for compensating the shortage of manpower. Leaders also plays an important role in bringing such a disruptive change for their organizations. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before this technology will become popular and applied in multiple areas.

References

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Glass, J. L., & Noonan, M. C. (2016). Telecommuting and earnings trajectories among American women and men 1989–2008. Social Forces, 95(1), 217-250.

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