Archive for February, 2011

Robotics for Small Business

February 26, 2011

Microsoft thinks Robotics will be a large part of its revenue stream by the end of this decade.

The federal government is spending billions of dollars encouraging Robotics research.

In healthcare, the auto industry, manufacturing and a host of other sectors are investing billions more in Robotics.

How will robotics affect your small business?

Not at all?
Robotics will make your business more competitive?
Robotics will put you out of business?

As Chairman of The National Robotics Education Foundation* I think about robots and robotics a lot, almost as often as small business. Today, I want to look at the cross-section of the two.

Robotics has been used in business to make things faster, more consistently and less expensive. For an example, think of early robotic applications in auto manufacturing where robots performed repetitive, precise activities.

Recent robotic advances include: a robot that picks and sizes strawberries for shipment; a robot that is a companion for Alzheimer patients; a robot for washing hair; a robot to practice birthing babies; and the list goes on.

These robots can be used by small businesses: a small strawberry farm run by aging farmers who a have trouble bending over; a small home health care business that allows Alzheimer patients remain in their own homes longer; a small beauty salon whose beauticians prefer hair cutting, coloring and styling to washing customers’ heads; and a small OB/GYN medical practice that is better trained and has lower insurance rates.

Robotics will be a part of all of our futures. The question is will you embrace the evolving capabilities and applications of robots/robotics? Or will you reject, perhaps out of fear of replacement?

While robots will continue to make things faster, more consistently and less expensive the application are becoming more sophisticated and intelligent. For instance, recently on Jeopardy Watson (an IBM creation) took on and beat two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

But, robots have limitations and the primary area is leadership. That will remain the domain of the business leader.

Part of leadership is interacting with your employees, customers, suppliers and others. There is no substitute for person-to-person contact. So you will not be replaced.

Therefore, start thinking today about ways to embrace robotics in your small business to be more competitive.

* The National Robotics Education Foundation (www.The-NREF.org) is a 501(c)(3). We work with educators in K-20 to incorporate robotic education into the curriculum to enhance learning and prepare our students for tomorrow. These robotically educated students (be they creators, engineers, or service maintenance) maybe your children, and/or your future employees or competitors.

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