Technology Record - Issue 33: Summer 2024

60 INTERVIEW Facilitating frontline success Stuart Hubbard from Zebra Technologies explains how generative AI is enhancing productivity and efficiency for frontline workers BY ALICE CHAMBERS From improving productivity and efficiency to providing real-time data and enhancing customer service, the benefits of generative artificial intelligence for the frontline workforce are widespread. Stuart Hubbard, senior director of AI and advanced development at Zebra Technologies, believes that while businesses are already using AI for certain tasks, it could do much more for them in the future. “Businesses are harnessing the power of AI to streamline internal processes, optimise decision-making and enhance customer interactions,” he says. “However, the potential for AI extends far beyond these current applications. At Zebra, we foresee a future where AI not only aids in task completion, but also anticipates the needs of workers, suggests intelligent tasks and serves as a real-time translator, eliminating language barriers in global operations.” The transformative potential of AI lies in addressing key challenges and unlocking significant gains for early adopters. “The greatest potential lies in improving the productivity and efficiency of frontline workers and reducing their cognitive load,” says Hubbard. “The ability to provide real-time data is also a potential game-changer in global operations. Organisations that swiftly adopt AI stand to benefit from increased efficiency and productivity, accelerated training of new employees and enhanced customer service.” However, deploying generative AI solutions for frontline workers is not without its challenges. “Businesses starting their AI journey need to fully understand the problem they are trying to solve and the key performance indicators for the project,” says Hubbard. “For example, firms looking to better engage and empower their call centre agents to work effectively can track average response and handle times, as well as customer satisfaction. “They should also be mindful of the potential costs associated with running AI on large servers and look at on-device/far-edge solutions as this improves customer experience, saves costs and protects privacy and security.” Although different industries may have varying priorities, Hubbard highlights common themes such as labour shortages, the need for real-time translation of data to frontline teams and improving worker efficiency. Zebra, alongside other partners, is leveraging Microsoft technologies to address these challenges and power AI solutions for its customers. “Zebra’s solutions are evolving to deliver on the potential of AI by developing internal use cases for various departments and running models on devices to avoid latency issues, improve privacy and security,” says Hubbard. “Zebra is using Microsoft technologies like Copilot for development, marketing and daily work. Additionally, strategic partners such as Qualcomm play a pivotal role by providing the chipsets for Zebra’s wearables and handheld devices that are developed in association with Android.” “Organisations that swiftly adopt AI stand to benefit from increased efficiency and productivity”