How AI can benefit businesses after the changes that COVID-19 will bring to the economy and society

STYLIANOS (1)

By Dr. Stylianos Kampakis, CEO, The Tesseract Academy

A post-pandemic world

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought multiple changes to our lives: social distancing, lockdowns, and remote working are only some of these. It might still be early to start talking about a world after the pandemic, while the pandemic is still raging on in many countries, and experts believe we might witness second waves. But we do know that some things are going to change permanently.

Some businesses will take advantage of the new reality, and will thrive. Others might find it more difficult. But, in any case, executives will have to make decisions in the near future about how to adapt to this situation.

What are some of the changes that we will witness?
1. Remote working will become more common.
2. Social distancing measures might stay with us for years to come.
3. Investors will demand from businesses to become “pandemic proof,” and even
“disaster-proof.”

And these are only some of the obvious ones. We should also expect some industries to suffer (e.g., the travel industry) and others to flourish (e.g., industries related to home entertainment).

How AI can help
AI and data science usually help businesses in the following ways:

1. Improve efficiency. E.g., find inefficiencies in a supply chain, and improve them.
2. Improve decision making through predictive analytics. E.g., predict demand for a
product, and budget accordingly.
3. Automate processes. There is a common ground here with robotics.

Scaling Up AI Technology for Business Continuity and Growth

Businesses will have to invest heavily in AI and data science in the post-pandemic world for the following three reasons:

First, with an impending economic crisis, improving efficiency and decision making is no longer something that businesses can forestall. Cost-cutting becomes essential. While implementing an AI solution can be costly in the beginning, it can keep saving costs for many years after it is first implemented. In such a harsh environment, improved efficiency can be the difference between the companies that survive and those that don’t.

Secondly, with more people working from home and also seeking entertainment from home, data collection becomes easier. Collecting data from people that visit a retail store or a restaurant is complicated. But when people perform these activities at home, by ordering online, data collection becomes very easy. Companies that take advantage of this situation will find that they will be in a position to create amazing analytics pipelines that can drive an increase in revenues.

Finally, automation is going to become key in a world where social distancing becomes the norm. Agricultural farms would prefer to employ robots to pick up fruit instead of human employees. Machines don’t get sick, after all. Similarly, restaurants and bars might also employ more machines to prepare drinks and food. While the idea of a robotic barman might have sounded crazy a few years ago, now it can seem like a perfect solution.

The role of executives in the pandemic world
Executives will come face to face with some very difficult decisions in the near future. Some companies might have to sack employees. Other companies might have to change their business models. Some companies will have to shut doors. But in each crisis, there is also opportunity.

For many years, some organizations have been dragging their feet, resisting much needed digital transformation. Now, there is not much choice. The organizations that have taken the right steps towards implementing data science and AI will reap huge benefits.

So, how can executives best prepare for this? It comes down to three things:
1. Having a data strategy in place.
2. Creating the right culture for adopting data science.
3. Creating a vision of a data-driven organization.

Is Being Data-driven Sufficient to Bring About Digital Transformation?

And this is why it is key for executives to educate themselves on these topics. Those who do are the ones that are going to see their businesses flourish, and their careers as CEOs get to the next level.