Business Monday

As automation advances, CEOs say humans are still needed

In this Monday, June 26, 2017, photo, Sophie Li, of Cupertino, Calif., offers to dance with a K5 robot made by Knightscope, Inc., at Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, Calif. In the technology hotbed that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose, people can eat a pizza made largely by a robot, have hotel toiletries delivered by a robot, drink a frothy cappuccino made by a robot and shop at a mall with robot security.
In this Monday, June 26, 2017, photo, Sophie Li, of Cupertino, Calif., offers to dance with a K5 robot made by Knightscope, Inc., at Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, Calif. In the technology hotbed that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose, people can eat a pizza made largely by a robot, have hotel toiletries delivered by a robot, drink a frothy cappuccino made by a robot and shop at a mall with robot security. AP

This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: How is your company preparing for future automation?


Notable economists have projected the loss of one-third of all jobs to automation by mid-2020, so industrialization continues to be a daunting concept to many professions. As automation continues to develop over the next few years, we hope these technological advances will assist us in completing computer-based tasks faster so that we can spend less time on paperwork and additional time with the individuals we are dedicated to serving.

Margaret “Peggy” Bass, executive director, Good Hope Equestrian Training Center


Each year, not-for-profit organizations like Carrfour are asked to do more with less which makes investing in automation very challenging. However, we invest as much as we can in technology because we recognize how important it is in advancing our mission. We continuously seek ways to use technology to automate administrative and repetitive tasks in order to free up staff time so that they can focus on the person-to-person human interactions that are vital to truly impacting the lives of the families we serve.

Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president, CEO, Carrfour Supportive Housing


We’re always on the lookout for new ways to work more efficiently and reduce costs. Many of the concepts out there are exciting and it will be interesting to see how they develop. That being said, the involvement of people who can show and explain properties, help negotiate deals and work through issues will always be a critical component of the real estate industry and, in my opinion, will be difficult to replace.

Michael A. Comras, president, The Comras Company of Florida


As the digital revolution continues to redefine retail, we are continuously testing and assessing new technologies that impact our consumers, team members, and suppliers. Even though automation is coming, its implementation may take some time. Companies not only have to think about the cost of adopting these new technologies, but they also have to reshape their business models in a way that automation best supports human labor.

Jose R. Costa, CEO, For Eyes


Gastro Health has been using technology in the business of healthcare. Granted, we are a service industry and at this point don’t see AI or robotics replacing nurses and physicians.

Alejandro Fernandez, CEO, Gastro Health


We are very intentional about staying on top of technology and innovation and any opportunities to apply them to improve our effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Given the nature of our business model, automation is not much of an issue for us, but staying current with technology is important.

Jerome Hutchinson Jr., managing partner, JHJ Marketing Group


As a nonprofit, we’re less focused on preparing our organization for automation. Instead, we are focused on ensuring our community is prepared for the automation revolution. We are in the process of developing our THRIVE Innovation Campus, which will be comprised of a maker space, flexible working spaces and innovation lab. We currently also host ongoing STEM classes for students in the community through after school and summer classes so that they have access to automated jobs. We are also looking at automation as an opportunity to develop workforce development training opportunities for young adults as part of our educational programs.

Willie Logan, founder, CEO and president, Opa-locka Community Development Corp.


4IT has been using and deploying automation in technology system-based processes for a long time. Our automation effort is focused on three outcomes: increase “up-time,” achieve proactive alerting, and increase efficiency by automating repeatable processes. Our team writes complex scripts that automate many of these repeat tasks, like adding or removing users from different systems, and deployment of the latest applications. This automation capability is critical to our ability to scale our client’s IT operations and to secure them by removing accounts, unsecured applications and deploying patched applications.

Raymond Mobayed, owner, 4IT Inc.


Our firm provides advisory services, which by their nature are highly customized and labor-intensive, given the critical thought process involved in the delivery of WE’s services. We are continuously assessing how technology can enable efficiency, consistency and leverage resources of our firm. It’s critical to regularly assess the ability to utilize technology and other tools to bring scale to the business, where it can make sense.

Julie Neitzel, partner, WE Family Offices


Automation has been a hot topic in the hospitality industry for quite some time now. Everything is being offered, from AI concierges to electronic butlers to fully robotic hotels. We highly value the personalization and human touch that our staff brings to the Biltmore experience and have no plans to replace our colleagues with robots. We believe that carefully selected automation has a place in our hotel and golf operations as long as it does not diminish the quality service our team members provide. We believe that automation can complement the human touch.

Gene Prescott, president and CEO, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables


Development is a detail-oriented industry requiring a considerable amount of creativity and a strong ability to work outside of set parameters and systems. This makes automating development quite challenging; however, we’ve been making a concerted effort to automate processes such as legal and accounting procedures. The increased power, and ease of access, to the cloud has also allowed us to streamline our operations and now paperwork that would take hours can be done in minutes.

Carlos Rosso, president, The Related Group’s Condominium division


We are in the business of creating, designing and manufacturing men’s sportswear. We do utilize the latest in design technology and software. But at the end of the day our hands are involved in everything from cutting the fabrics to sewing the garments. We are a hands-on company, still the best way to ensure the finest quality.

Stan Rudman, CMO and owner, Sportailor Inc.


At the Heat organization, we believe strongly in technology’s power to drive innovation, and are investing heavily in it. This includes the creation of our own Heat App, which made us the first NBA team to go mobile-only for ticket entry. Additionally, we have a robust business intelligence department that runs thousands of data analytic systems to enhance efficiencies, manage expenses and make better decisions. For example, I have a visualization tool that allows me to easily see the guest patterns throughout the arena on any given game or event night, including which door entries were accessed the most, which areas filled up the fastest, and any other issues that might have impacted flow. All this data combined with my experience operating the Arena ensures I can continue to provide the best guest experience in South Florida.

Kim Stone, general manager and EVP, AmericanAirlines Arena


We have been preparing for automation for almost 20 years, since we came to Miami in 1999. We have invested more heavily in technology and social media than most community banks and have received awards and recognition for our work, including from the American Banker and the Independent Community Bankers Association. We recognize that our customers, especially millennials, use and need state-of-the-art mobile and online banking services and the black community is very active on social media. We are also the first black-owned internet bank and have customers who live in almost all 50 states.

Teri Williams, president, CEO and a director, OneUnited Bank


We embrace change and in some respects are the ones that clients come to for help in planning for their unknown futures. We are involved in many different building and business types and have been tracking the disruptions that are occurring in many sectors.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and CEO of Zyscovich Architects



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