What is a CRO and will your business soon need one?


The times are changing! What seemed like science fiction a few years ago is now on the front page of the news. Augmented reality, wearables, virtual assistants, robots, and other smart devices are beginning to permeate our daily lives. Amazon Prime Air, the e-commerce giant’s new retail drone delivery system, is ready to launch but is waiting on regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. If you have not seen the latest video of their system in action then it’s an eye-opener on how far automation has come.

Turning from the skies to the road, robotics is set to revolutionize how we drive. Self-driving features are already available in certain models like Tesla, with fully automated vehicles ready for purchase in the next few years. In fact, some forecasts estimate that 10 million of these cars will be on the road by 2020. Who would have thought?

There’s no other way to state it: the business impacts of automation in the next decade will be profound. Market intelligence firm Tractica estimates that the global robotics market will grow from $28.3 billion worldwide in 2015 to $151.7 billion by 2020. What’s especially significant is that this market share will encompass most non-industrial robots, including segments like consumer, enterprise, medical, military, UAVs, and autonomous vehicles.

But even more impactful than CAGR numbers and market projections around robotics, are the implications on jobs. People are growing increasingly concerned about the ways automation will change their work and careers, and rightfully so. Gartner Research, one of the world’s leading voices in technology trends, has declared that the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. And even now, the results of a 2013 Gartner survey show that sixty percent of CEOs believe that the emergence of smart machines capable of taking away millions of middle-class jobs within the next 15 years is a “futuristic fantasy.” Be that as it may, this new era of robotics is going to dramatically change the nature of work – along with the roles and functions of business.

And this is where things get really interesting!

According to Remy Glaisner, CEO and founder of Myria Research, the future robotics revolution will significantly impact the C-Suite of business. As Robotics and Intelligence Operational Systems (RIOS) technologies scale up, companies will require more structured and strategic approaches to managing the implications of this global transformation on their verticals.

Enter the CRO or Chief Robotics Officer. In a whitepaper dedicated to this topic, Glaisner spells out the role and function of a CRO:

The Chief Robotics Officer plans, directs, organizes and manages all activities of the RIOS (Robotics & Intelligent Operational Systems) department to ensure the effective, secure and efficient use of all RIOS solutions and applications. These efforts must be accomplished in partnership with other business units (IT, Finance, Engineering, R&D, Operations, HR, Business Development, et al) and increasingly with senior management and the Board of Directors. CROs must have significant vertical industry knowledge so that they can better consider the evolution of RIOS solutions in existing and future functions and processes.

The anticipated effects of this new enterprise transformation in business and technology will be fascinating, if not a bit staggering, and suggest that we truly are living in unprecedented times.

Back in January of 2007, Bill Gates famously declared robots as the “next big thing” and placed the industry at the same place as the PC market in the late 1970s. Perhaps this prediction was a bit premature at the time since breakthroughs in mobile, cloud, and Big Data were just beginning. But now a decade later, things are much different; technology has reached an inflection point. Everything about the market suggests that it’s finally happening – that robots really are about to go mainstream.

So the question now becomes simple: How will you adapt and adjust to the global disruption caused by robots and automation in the next 5-10 years? What will your company do about this sea change? Now is the time to plan and pivot in order to avoid falling behind this technology curve. As Glaisner predicts, within the next decade “over 60% of manufacturing, logistics & supply chain, healthcare, agro-farming, and oil/gas/mining companies part of the Global 1000 will include a Chief Robotic Officer (CRO) and associated staff as part of their organization.”

The age of robotics is truly upon us. Will you be ready?

Why businesses must get ready for the era of robotic things


We’ve entered a period of epic technological transformation that is impacting society in ways that are leaving even veteran tech observers speechless. In some ways, it might seem like 1998 all over again. The internet was then in its infancy and cyberspace was uncharted territory for much of the population. The Dot-com boom and eventual bust was inevitable and reflected the markets expanding and contracting with the newfound surge of interest, but obviously overinflated speculation, around the potential of the Internet to transform society. Following a tremendous growth spurt in the first 5-6 years, the World Wide Web ended its first decade by learning to become sociable.

Indeed, the rise of the digital social network through channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have transformed how businesses and individuals work, think, and communicate. And now that the Internet has crossed the threshold into young adulthood, it’s continuing to grow and drive massive transformations throughout all parts of business and society. Soon-to-be-released autonomous cars, wearable tech, drones, 3-D printing, smart machines, home automation, virtual assistants like Siri, you name it . . . the pace of change is staggering.

Graphic by Predikto on company blog.
Graphic by Predikto on company blog.

Many of the breakthroughs and innovations we’re seeing right now are a result of three major confluences over the past 8 years: mobile, cloud, and Big Data. These technologies have collectively resulted in quicker and more efficient means of collaboration, development, and production, which in turn have allowed businesses to achieve unprecedented levels of growth and expansion. New ways of working, often remotely, mean that more people can do their jobs outside of traditional corporate structures. We’ve entered not only the freelancer economy, but the startup one as well. Now everyone is an entrepreneur and innovation and new business growth is through the roof. What’s more is that technology processes and production cycles have become commoditized. This means that anyone with the right idea, system, skills, and network in place today can effectively build a billion dollar business with very low overhead costs.

This crazy rate of change is certainly great from the consumer standpoint, but also a bit unnerving for businesses simply trying to keep their head above the water. How are companies today to keep up with the market, their competitors, and with consumer expectations? What does all this change mean for startups struggling to gain traction, for more traditional brick and mortar businesses, and even for established enterprises that might be too big to pivot quickly?

These are more comprehensive questions that we’ll try to answer in another blog post. But for now, here is what we do know about the massive impacts over the next few years. The first thing is that Internet of Things is taking the world by storm with projections that 21 billion objects will be connected by the year 2020. That’s just about 3 for every man, woman, and child on the planet! A few years ago Cisco estimated that the IoT market would create $19 trillion of economic value in the next decade.

What’s more is that the global robotics industry is also undergoing a major transformation. Market intelligence firm Tractica released a report in November 2015 forecasting that global robotics will grow from $28.3 billion worldwide in 2015 to $151.7 billion by 2020. What’s especially significant is that this market share will encompass mostly non-industrial robots, including segments like consumer, enterprise, medical, military, UAVs, and autonomous vehicles. Tractica anticipates an increase in annual robots shipments from 8.8 million in 2015 to 61.4 million by 2020; in fact, by 2020 over half of this volume will come from consumer robots.


Putting together the two major industry trends, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that the two industries – Internet of Things and Robotics – will together lead to a “perfect storm” of global market disruption, opportunities, and growth in the next 4 years and beyond. This confluence is part of a larger epic transformation, which has appropriately been called the Second Machine Age. Listen to how this FastCompany article sums it up:

The fact is we’re now on the cusp of a “Second Machine Age,” one powered not by clanging factory equipment but by automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Self-driving cars are expected to be widespread in the coming decade. Already, automated checkout technology has replaced cashiers, and computerized check-in is the norm at airports. Just like the Industrial Revolution more than 200 years ago, the AI and robotics revolution is poised to touch virtually every aspect of our lives—from health and personal relations to government and, of course, the workplace.

This is a mouthful but in case it’s not clear, let me spell it out: there’s never been a better time than now to get onboard with robotics and Internet of Things!

If you’re a startup or small business owner, and especially feeling behind the technology curve, you’re certainly not alone. But instead of commiserating about all of the changes, proactively start today to ask yourself what it will take to get your organization to the next level of innovation. Set yourself up with a 6 month, 12 month, 18 month and 2 year innovation plan which maps to a broader 2020 strategy. Time is of the essence but it’s not too late to pivot and get onboard with the robotics and IoT revolution. As the famous statement goes, “The journal of a thousand miles starts with one step.”