AI automation is taking over, exciting some with the chance to outsource tough manual work to the machine and scaring others about the possibility of a jobless future.
The process of AI automation has been largely controversial. On the one hand, it poses questions about the levels of the machine’s creativity required to lead innovation. On the other, it seems like the best option in fields where physical labor might not only be hard but dangerous or even life-threatening to a human.
To discuss this and other resourcing challenges that industrial fields face, Cybernews reached out to Pontus Maltborg, the Chief Commercial Officer at Omikai, a leading enterprise resources management platform.
Tell us how it all began. How did the idea of Omikai originate?
The idea of Omikai came to the founder and CEO Mathias Erlandsson who was a computer engineer with a passion for lean production and automation. He brought his ideas to people from the print industry. This industry was a niché segment of the manufacturing space where products usually differed and required complexity, and in many cases, unique production methodology. Together with other scions of the print industry, Mathias saw a niche as the modern manufacturing ERP systems were too serial-based and required a lot of customization and workarounds to accommodate the printing niché. Meanwhile, the old print-specific ones lacked the modularity and modern architecture to fit the demands of a printing house in the 21st century. Thus Omikai was created sometime in 2013 and launched with its first customer in 2015.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?
I am the CCO of Omikai. I handle Marketing (Branding and demand generation), Sales (qualification and solutions sales teams), and partnership (Full-service and strategic technical) within the organization. We help our clients, print and packaging companies, to become more efficient in their product lifecycle without losing any of the precision and quality that they are known for as well as helping them to overview the whole organization so they can quickly identify profitable and unprofitable situations.
In your opinion, what issues do companies run into most often during the digital transformation process?
I think a lot of companies in the manufacturing space are averse to change management because they see it as resource-intense and a large undertaking that won’t generate a return fast enough. I believe the main reason for this is that they lack an understanding of what the consequences of staying in a state of “as is” will generate due to a general overestimation of a company’s robustness and an underestimation of its fragility. Thus they sometimes see the need to change when their “ship” is already sinking, and the captain is “treading water.” By then, change becomes even more difficult as they have to focus on keeping their “heads above water.”
Did the recent global events alter your field of work in any way? Were there any new features added to your products as a result?
We have focussed much more on hiring that is based on competence rather than geography. That in itself has created a need to be more process-orientated and standardized because of the remote dynamic and nature of the work.
Since the print and packaging industry is your main field of focus, what predictions do you have for the future of this sector?
Packing will grow a lot. Automation and Integration will be the key to success and thriving within the print industry. Merging a lot of best practices from traditional B2C and going from structured sales to no-touch sales. AI intuition will also take out a lot of the former manual labor-intense workarounds and experience-dependent decision making.
What threats affecting online businesses do you find to be the most concerning at the moment?
Probably, the sustainability factor. We are made to pay a massive premium in the Nordics on, for example, plastic bags in retail, and yet nobody questions the amount of packaging and wrapping that goes into packing, transporting, and selling B2C goods from China when ordering through Aliexpress, Amazon, and/or Wish in Northern Europe. I would say this is more of a FMCG threat, but it affects the business ecosystem online business as well that in turn has consequences for packaging and printing.
What security tools and practices organizations and average individuals should have in place to combat these new threats?
I would say most notably having an antifragile tech stack infrastructure with fail-safes whenever partners, re-sellers, and suppliers are involved. In an ideal process, there needs to be an algorithm in places that automatically diverts, for example, supply chains. That is, if A fails, then go to B, if B fails, then choose C, and so on. This needs to, of course, be integrated into an ERP system so that additional costs are taken into account and that pre-determined decision are made for various client groups who must bear the cost of supply chain failures.
What other aspects of business operations do you hope to see automized or enhanced by technology in the next few years?
I feel like collecting data from each part of the manufacturing process will be key so that the company can learn more from the productions, understand deviations and additional costs associated with non-automatic things, and increase those in their product offering. This will also result in data that can further actually determine best practices methodologies in areas such as calculations, planning, and production that have previously been determined by experience and culture. No-touch sales is something that will happen, and the same goes for delivery and supply chain logistics.
What does the future hold for Omikai?
Hopefully, we will have a bright one. We are focussing all our development on building an architecture that is best-in-class when it comes to integration and optimization, and that our ideal customers will see that and want to migrate to our platform.