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Cybershoring and the Supply Chain: Your 3 Biggest Questions Answered

Michael Wilson | May 23, 2017

Cybershoring, or robotic automation within your supply chain, is a pressing topic of discussion all over the globe. Otherwise called robotic process automation (RPA), cybershoring ...

Cybershoring, or robotic automation within your supply chain, is a pressing topic of discussion all over the globe. Otherwise called robotic process automation (RPA), cybershoring can increase supply chain productivity and efficiency. Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we’ve been hearing about cybershoring and explain how cybershoring will influence your supply chain management in the future.

What is Cybershoring?

Cybershoring takes its name from what it replaces: offshoring. Not too long ago, offshoring — or hiring labor outside of the United States — was billed as the best way to cut costs. Now we know that offshoring did not provide all the benefits promised. Indeed, as offshoring becomes more and more untenable because of the rising cost of labor, cybershoring can serve as a replacement. Cybershoring is the replacement of human labor by robots, hence the “cyber” in cybershoring. Specifically, RPA robots replace and even improve jobs that were once performed by people.  

RPA robots are not robots like Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons. They are not standard mechanical instruments that simply replicate human motions, either. Instead, these robots can reimagine the way tasks are performed, thus making sure that processes are consistent, correct, and indeed, improved. While many people’s first impulse with RPA might be to simply have the robot replace human-oriented tasks, the real time-and-money-saver with cybershoring is to replace these human tasks with better, more streamlined methods. With these tasks handled by smart robots, your team can then think in a more strategic, big-picture way.

Will Cybershoring Change the Supply Chain?

Cybershoring replaces manual activities and processes. Specifically, it replaces the human labor required to complete redundant tasks with an always-consistent robot. The robot will not replace all human-controlled tasks; instead, the robot and your staffers will work with one another to automate certain back office tasks. One of the benefits to RPA is the increased ability to standardize daily processes and ensure that certain rules are always adhered to.

RPA robots can perform many different tasks. Some, for example, focus only on one part of a task, while others can complete processes from beginning to end. The robots generally come equipped with an in-built intelligence, or knowledge of best practices, that help them know when they need human interaction to solve unusual problems.

Another major benefit of cybershoring is that RPA robots remove human error from the equation. When people handle manual and repetitive tasks, they inevitably make mistakes. Cybershoring ensures that these tasks are consistently performed without error; these “cyber” workers can perform the same tasks for longer periods of time without making mistakes.

What Will the Future of My Business Look Like?

Some experts say that old methods to save costs like offshoring or manual effort in every stage of the supply chain process are no longer the best ways to cut expenses. Instead, Bank of America suggested that automation, robots, and artificial intelligence (AI) programs could cut costs by up to 30%. Most experts expect that cybershoring will not be a flash in the pan or a temporary fad, but instead could serve as a major and permanent shift in how the industry does business.

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