“AI is likely the best or worst thing to happen to humanity” – Stephen Hawking.
And at present, it is turning out to be on a brighter side. In London, researchers are now developing computer models based on artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate the risk of an individual patient’s need for a ventilator or intensive care.
Let’s take an example. With these models, hospitals would be able to know that 40% of their hospitalized patients would need a ventilator within a week. This will enable pre-planning and deployment of resources in the best possible way — said Nielsen from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
On the business side, when they are scrambling as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ of working remotely, here is how AI could help them in recovering the post-corona.
Bring Resilience to Manufacturing & Supply Chains
With predictive maintenance and better planning, AI allows manufacturers to optimize costs in each factory. It also enables them to operate a larger number of small, efficient facilities that are nearer to the customers, rather than a few massive factories in low-wage nations. How? By deploying advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and autonomous robots that require few workers.
Supply chain disruption — the problem many businesses are facing like retail, luxury goods markets. They are facing downturns in demand and no new ways to reach potential customers for new business. Thanks to its ability to analyze data from myriad sources, AI can discover potential trends and identify consumer behaviors, helping businesses to prepare accordingly.
Even in a human-centered industry like fashion, some of the companies are including AI capabilities to amplify weak signals and detect trends in early stages.
Automates Mostly Everything
At present when the recession is likely to bring out a spike in labor-replacing automation, many companies argue that automation could bring a long-term change to the labor force. Even the London School of Economics Professor, Mirko Draca said the recession will bring with it a wave of AI and automation.
We all are well aware of the story of a CEO who had to close a factory after one employee became ill. And Robots would not have such problems. Hence, the company plans to speed up its adoption of AI and machine learning over the next coming years.
AI-powered assistants can perform almost all the back-office tasks. Including ordering new credit cards, issuing refunds, canceling orders, etc. At times when it is unable to handle a task due to its complexity, it can be seamlessly handed to human agents to manage. It is referred to as robotic process automation. As long as these are structured tasks, they can be handled.
“Almost all the companies that I talked to about RPA said, ‘Oh, we’re just using it to free up people to do more creative, less structured work’,” says Davenport at Babson College. But he adds that if the current COVID-19 crisis leads to a severe recession, companies will use it to replace workers. “My guess is that it’s going to contribute to substantial job losses or at least slower growth of employment after the recession because companies will have automated a fair amount of work,” he further added.
Models called Propensity can identify which customers are most likely to buy a product or service from a company. Hence, these models can help salespeople in improving their productivity and effectiveness by prioritizing the customers.
Because of COVID-19, there is going to be a big change in customers’ buying behavior. As people stay at home, they are more likely to interact through digital mediums. When it is impossible to eat out, they are ordering food online. Such patterns are creating new unstructured data, hard to make sense of. That’s when AI solutions can analyze the data and find out what customers feel and need.
Staff demand, supply, and infrastructure
Given that employees may have to isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak, AI can analyze the number of staff needed.
AI companies get requests from clients to identify if they are likely to even have enough workers to staff a railroad,” says Davenport at Babson College. In this case, AI can help in matching demand and supply, but from a labor standpoint. “If they are laying off people, they’d like to know it’s the right number of people. Making sure they have enough people to staff a particular train or a production shaft could be quite difficult.”
Over to you
The current crisis and its aftermath are enough to motivate companies to adjust their business models and adapt to the new reality. The ones that put software data, AI at their core, will be the Winners.