Robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) is going to work with the world of work. While most of the attention in the world of automation technology has been focused on self-driving, many other markets have traditionally dominated human-to-loop solutions reaching the inflection point, allowing RaaS to take a decision on.
Robotics companies have historically been selling to their customers – you guessed it – with robots. At the enterprise robots were often used to optimize production. Giant companies with formidable, global, mega-corrupted names, such as FANUC and ABB, provide solutions that require hundreds of thousands, if not millions, investment dollars to just get started. Companies are buying mass work and software solutions that are configured – at a great cost – to their specific needs. The massive conglomerates that sell these robots dominate the field for decades, but it's going to change.
One of the main factors behind this change is how sharply globalization has reduced the cost of hardware and capabilities. At the same time, cheap and powerful computing and cloud infrastructure are now also easily accessible and easily deployed. As a consequence, vertical robotics solutions can today be offered as variable cost services compared to those sold at a fixed price. Just as cable companies include prefix costs in a monthly account, work and related software will be linked and sold in the subscription package. This change in the robot business model will have profound consequences, radically changing markets and simultaneously changing the future of work.
Due to the application of the new model of variable costs due to subscription packages, it's easy to calculate when the market is about to approach Raas. The market hit its point of automation breakthrough (ATP) when a RaaS solution with a cost unit is introduced that is less than or equal to the unit cost for the cycle for the same task. I am actively investing and looking for new companies in this market that catalyze this change and have already invested in a company that violates the inventory management space with the help of autonomous drones.
One of the markets that has already reached its ATP is the security market for building an enterprise. Traditionally, the office security was carried out by people. According to Guardian, around 20 million private guards work around the world. One company, Cobalt Robotics, hopes to change it. Thanks to its platform, companies can replace guardians or security guards by 30% cheaper robot-security work. For example, instead of building a building with three or four people, you can have one person who manages several remote jobs. Moreover, all the data and ideas collected through these robots are organized and available for building optimization and security. It's not just cheaper, it's better. Back there is no – this market has got into its ATP. And given that the market is projected to reach $ 240 billion by 2020, such companies as Cobalt may be quite massive.
In addition to security, RaaS aims to smash many other markets. According to Allied Market Research, the RaaS market is estimated to grow to almost $ 34.7 billion. The world over the next three years, it grows with a fast clip – nearly 23% CAGR. In my opinion, this estimate of the size of the market is not consistent as it does not take into account the full impact of how this business model will disrupt the work of many sectors. Uber once thought only to compete in the $ 11 billion taxi / limo market but eventually ripped a multi-trillion dollar transport market. Similarly, during the next decade RaaS is eating many other markets. Spraying a crop ($ 70 billion), Industrial cleaning ($ 78 billion), Warehouse management ($ 21 billion), and many other service markets – rollback. When these sectors fall into the ATP, we will see the same level of industry failure that is currently taking place in the security market of buildings.
The changes taking place in the company will also have a profound impact on consumer markets and, ultimately, on society, in deep and potentially complex ways. We are at the beginning of a huge change in work. RaaS will allow people to focus on more complex problems, while maintaining the most important physical work, and sometimes dangerous work for robots. As manual or repetitive work shifts to cars, we will see that some jobs are being destroyed, others are changing or accelerating, and creating new types of jobs. It will create for some great opportunities, but as a society, we must focus on education and training for those who need to go into different fields.
Hooman Radfar is an Expa partner.