We often do things out of routine without considering if there is an easier way to achieve the same result quicker and even more effectively. In a larger company or organization, this is the job of the business analyst, but what if we applied this to other daily activities and tasks that shape the way we live, and thus giving us more time to partake in of the things we love?
It´s hard enough for most working-class adults to spend most of their days in the week of the year either behind a PC at their home or company desk, or behind the wheel in traffic. So, the task of going shopping after an 8-hour work stint or even attending a doctor’s check-up becomes more of a burden or chore if you must queue to wait any longer to get service.
This very example came to mind when a relative complained about having to go from one doctor to another. And if referred to a specialist they had to book another appointment by calling the specialist’s practice. Now granted, this is basically a ´first world problem´ because having a specialist attend to a back problem after your doctor recommends it during an initial check-up is a luxury that third world citizens could only dream of having in the first place. But in a world where there is less time to take care of multiple tasks, every second or minute spent on mundane tasks and waiting for service is the time that could be utilized more productively.
So, in the case of the referral to a specialist, a simple unified medical system can resolve this. A CRM database linking all the medical practitioners including their schedules will save the patient the time (and cost of the phone call) taken to manually arrange the new appointment. This secure system would also have a high-tech scanning and attachment add-on so that X-rays, scans, diagnoses and of course the attending doctor´s notes could be attached to the attention of the specialist. The times for the new appoint can be chosen whilst the patient is at the doctor’s practice and if convenient, the patient can go to the specialist direct from the doctor.
This is one very basic and rudimentary example of how an automated and centralized software solution can help schedule appointments. To achieve maximum optimization the system would clearly require several tests before implementation.
“Too often systems analysts and developers do not consider the end users – the user experience (UX) is the most crucial aspect of software development and should be the first step in building an automated system or it will never achieve its purpose”
It doesn’t have to be used as a national health solution as centrally planned systems, as mentioned in a previous blog, can lead to inefficiencies. It could be localized in order to make the system easier to maintain and be updated with contact details, especially when information can change on a weekly or monthly basis.
Naturally, and for decades, health insurance companies have utilized a card system to document patient visits to practitioners, using this process to claim back medical cost. But this only serves a singular function and is laborious to run. What I am implicating will resolve this but would understandably need to be managed very sensibly as one is dealing with sensitive information that should not get into the wrong hands. Be up-to-date with local healthcare compliance laws.
Cloud security has become a huge requirement and will be a necessity for all businesses and services in the very near future. The United Kingdom, for instance, is implementing compliance laws for storage of data under its new GDPR regulation. Countries like Sweden have similar compliance laws to handle financial (with banking going mobile) and medical data stored in the cloud. So, security would become less of a concern for businesses when it comes to data storage and automated CRM systems in the future.
The burden of shopping can also be alleviated with initiatives such as cashless processes. We first saw this introduced in Asia (China) and now adopted in the West through Amazon’s new cashless´ and cashier-less grocery stores. While Shoplifters might not see the innovation in this ‘new method’ of shopping, it saves shoppers time spent queueing to pay and will invariably help resolve the scourge of shoplifting. It will, however, require more reliance on technology for surveillance, to monitor and track the scanning of the goods and keep a database of records on a server to help with the inventory and other back-office processes also probably managed by an automated ERP solution (and not a person).
We are still waiting for massive roll-outs of the so-called smart houses equipped with smart chips that help regulate temperature, turn off energy-consuming devices when not in use, equipped with fridges that remind you when food is expiring or simply needs to be replaced when in short supply.
Designing such systems would naturally require careful observation into the various steps needed to reach the desired result i.e. how does the consumer go from point A selecting a product to point B walking out of the shop with a fully paid item without using cash or the need for a cashier? The system analyst’s job would be to engage or even simulate the processes using different test subjects and not just the best practice – which would end up not catering for every possible outcome. Not factoring in the possibility that a shopper might, for instance, forget to buy milk after checking out of a security area could result in an embarrassing scenario for all.
These are just two examples of countless scenarios, activities that can benefit from the help of automation and AI to facilitate our busy lifestyles.
There are many other subtle examples and the motor industry has benefitted from such including the use of computers to diagnose a ‘sick car’. And while supposedly rendering many mechanics useless it actually gives them more time to spend on other activities, that is, if they can afford such machinery.
There can be a solution for each bottlenecking problem. Addressing this is now has become a new field of study. Computerisation and the use of robotics to handle manual labour and repetitive blue-collar jobs will be new highly lucrative career paths (many new start-ups already exist purely to develop home automation).