The New Way of Working: Putting Humanity at the Heart of Automation

By and Daniel Cascone | 3 minute read | November 26, 2020

During this tumultuous year, we have all encountered empty store shelves. Everything from toilet paper to lumber to air conditioners have been unavailable, even online. Although supply may be an issue, in most cases the empty shelves are a result of the supply chain struggling to cope with things like stockpiling, fluctuating demand, trade war implications, or worker illness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My team is on a mission to improve supply chain resiliency and reimagine the digital transformation experience through the use of intelligent platforms. These platforms are end-to-end transformation through experience-led digitization, with automation allowing for a deep rethinking of not only the ‘how’ but the ‘why’ of business processes.

A vital ingredient in the success of the new value chain is our ability to apply humanity to these new challenges. Although advancements in AI, machine learning and robotics are providing key capabilities for industry 4.0, it is essential to have humans with the necessary skills. Technology will act as an integrator only.

During our session at Think Summit 2020, Putting Humanity at the Heart of Automation, we heard four stories from clients who have successfully automated and redefined their workforce through digital transformation experience and transparency in value chain from end to end. These stories of partnership between humans and technology were illustrated in real time by Cecile Gariepy, a locally based artist at la Societe des Arts technologiques in Montreal.

Tune into the Think Summit replay and hear these stories for yourself:

  1. A railroad company: With North America’s largest rail-centric supply chain networks (over 32,000km), this client had a digital transformation challenge. They needed to find the right value chain, using intelligent automation of key business processes, to provide safer services at a lower cost with greater customer and employee satisfaction — all while increasing their supply chain resiliency. With the help of a diverse team of IBM and business experts, this client is integrating the latest in AI computer vision, machine learning and edge computing technologies at great speed and scale throughout the entire rail network.
  2. A global aerospace company: This client needed to drastically improve the way they serviced their aircraft, reduce costs, and significantly enhance the reliability of their global supply chain. Using IBM as their digital transformation partner, they redefined their value chain and migrated to the cloud, resulting in accelerated transformation, reduction of operating costs by 50 percent, and drastically improved customer and employee satisfaction.
  3. Food industry client: Pandemic or not, customers need fresh food. To address consumer demands and to win in their market, this client needed to radically change their supply chain. They engaged IBM using intelligent workflows, the IBM Food Trust blockchain, IoT, automation and analytics to ensure product freshness throughout the supply chain while automating inventory tracking in the restaurant. Thanks to real-time information and insights, inventory accuracy, improved inventory rotation, and end-to-end auditable records, they are seeing improved customer satisfaction, and an increase in revenue.

As these examples show, intelligent automation is about much more than just deploying technology. It is about redefining your operating model with people at the heart of the new value chain – ensuring a better experience for everyone: employees, customers, suppliers and business partners.

Let’s work together to ensure the physical and virtual shelves are never empty again. To assess your workforce readiness for intelligent automation, please visit:

To learn more about intelligent workflows, visit

By Daniel Cascone, Vice-President and Managing Partner, Cognitive Process Transformation, IBM Canada