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Robots and Roti What can banks learn from a good curry


Those that know me personally know that I love technology, especially where it improves our lives. My most recent acquisition is a robotic roti maker, and having used it I’m sharing what I learnt and how those learnings can helps banks.

Robot Revulsion

“Why did you buy this, do you not like my Roti”, was the first reaction of my wife. And after a couple of uses “they’re not as good as mine, and we still have to clean the machine, are we really gaining anything from having this?”. I also suspect there was an undercurrent of “what will our mums think? That I’m too lazy to make Roti now?”.

I knew this was a change management issue, and I needed to ensure that primary stakeholder understood the benefits. “Darling, you have more important things to do. Besides this will allow us all to have hot Roti’s and eat together as a family rather than eating cold ones together. And I’m sure your worried about our mums, we should remind them that they already use washing machines, hoovers and microwaves. This is just another piece of automation to relieve your heavy workload.”

It’s Not About the Roti

I’m not sure my wife was fully convinced, I had given her practical benefits, but no strong vision that inspired her. As I normally do when I need to get clarity, I went on a long run to think about this, seriously this is not just fiction. I thought, “What will she do with the time saved? Other household tasks, was this really just a time saver?”. As I thought long and hard, it suddenly struck me, this isn’t about saving time. The Roti is only part of a meal, this is about better curry’s, about bringing family/friends together through better food. Making a curry involves more than one dish, each requiring precision in cooking and flavouring. However making Roti’s take a lot of time and effort and they aren’t even the star of the meal (though a hot served fresh Roti always improves a meal). The machine would allow spend time on the curry, while being able to join us at the dinner table and being served with hot Roti’s. This was indeed a more compelling vision and my wife was convinced.

Artificial Intelligent Roti

Initially the machine is a marvel to watch, it has three containers for oil, flour and water. Once instructed it mixes, kneads, rolls and cooks Roti’s. At the end of making Roti’s the machine asks for feedback, and if your not entirely happy makes suggestions for improvements. For example if they are not rising enough, increase the oil setting. If they are not cooked enough, increase the cooking setting. Thus the machine helps you to achieve your perfect Roti.

The machine also makes other breads, including pizza dough and puri. The puri are meant to be smaller than Roti, and pictures of Puri on the machines website showed them to be smaller. My machine was not working as described. I contacted the supplier (via chat) and after going through some diagnostics and changing of setting they concluded that an update was required. They would send this online, and as my machine was connected online it would automatically update. Sure enough there was an update and the next batch of Puri were the correct size!

Banking on Roti’s

So what can banks learn from my experience:

1)      Automation Kickback

Those potentially displaced by automation will find strong reasons why automation will not work. Time/effort saving is not enough to convince them to adopt


2)      Vision

A strong vision can convince “nay-sayers”, especially if it benefits them


3)      Right first time is not reality

AI and automation isn’t a right first time activity. It requires iterations of feedback and updates to get it right. Often this won’t be a one size fits all solution. In the case of the Roti machine, differences in ingredients can alter results for different users.

I’m a tough customer to please, and whilst I’m a technology lover I’m not generally an early adopter. I have to give it to the team at Rotimatic, this machine is a marvel, it delivers the promise and I really look forward to getting updates that will materially increase its usefulness. When I bought the machine I really wasn’t expecting to learn anything useful for my day job in working with digital banks, so I hope my usual readers have found this post useful.




Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 23 October, 2018, 15:46Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Great post. Totally consistent with how technology has generally been positioned - as a way to stop doing mundane tasks and start doing creative, value-added work: Roti making = mundane task; Curry making = creative, value-added work. There's one implicit thing that worked to your advantage in your personal example: The person who could stop doing mundane tasks is also the person who could do creative, value-added work after technology is introduced. That could be a challenge in some enterprise scenarios.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 October, 2018, 16:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks Ketharmaran. Great point about creative...

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