[Editor’s Note: This feature was published by Ottawa Business Journal. Click here to read the original.]
Rudi Asseer, president and CEO of IMI. Photo by Caroline Phillips
An Ottawa-based company looking to ride the global wave of e-commerce demand is hoping its new artificial intelligence persona will help workers in the field feel a bit more fulfilled on the job.
IMI works with the likes of Amazon and Walmart to fit up warehouses across North America with technology such as robotics and conveyor belts to help automate the shipping and fulfillment process. The local company’s team of technicians is the force that transforms an empty warehouse into a well-oiled machine that can get a customer’s online purchase off the shelf and onto a truck in a manner of hours.
IMI claims to be the largest mechanical installation company in North America, averaging around 2,000 workers on its payroll annually. The company has operations in Grand Rapids, Mich., Nashville and California.
IMI’s headquarters are here in Ottawa, however, where president and CEO Rudi Asseer oversees a team of nearly 50. In addition to its corporate oversight role, Ottawa also serves as the development site of Rhonda.ai, the company’s new AI platform.
Asseer, a previous Forty Under 40 recipient, says Rhonda’s development began on a lark five years ago, before he had even taken over the top job at IMI. He was having a conversation with IMI founder Diana Cuttell about what the company’s priorities ought to be in the years ahead when he suggested making an investment in IMI’s digital transformation.
A few conversations later and Asseer had already set out to build Rhonda, an AI to facilitate more regular communication between management and field workers, with a small team at Invest Ottawa. That quickly ballooned to a workforce of 14 as Asseer began incubating the burgeoning startup inside IMI itself.
Shortly after Asseer joined the company in 2016, Rhonda quickly took off. The digital persona surveyed field workers on how their weeks were going, using a simple one-to-five rating scale. IMI was then able to capture valuable insights into worker satisfaction: triaging poor reviews, tracking morale over time and even evaluating the effects particular managers could have on their teams.
Asseer calls Rhonda a “constant pulse” on the health of IMI’s workforce. With this AI tool, he believes the 22-year-old company is in a stronger position than ever before.
“By creating this internal startup within the organization, what it actually did is it transformed the entire company,” Asseer says.
Click here to see the original article published in the Ottawa Business Journal.
Founded in 1998, IMI is the largest automation installation resource company in North America, delivering technical resources, hardware and technology solutions. Offering hourly and turnkey installation talent and OEM product deployment in fields such as manufacturing, supply chain, automation and robotics, IMI has qualified, trained and deployed thousands of technicians throughout North America and has worked with some of the world’s most progressive Fortune 500 companies for over 20 years. For more information, visit imipeople.com.
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