Digital innovation spurred by Covid-19 has put AI and analytics at the center of business operations. AI and analytics are boosting productivity, delivering new products and services, accentuating corporate values, addressing supply chain issues, and fueling new startups. In this article, we address lessons learned from the pandemic and how they can be applied to spurring new economic opportunity.
When it comes to digital transformation, the Covid crisis has drawn important lessons for business leaders. One of the most compelling findings is the potential that data analysis and artificial intelligence bring with them.
For example, during the pandemic, FritoLay stepped up its digital and data-driven initiatives, compressing the value of five years of digital plans to six months. “Launching a direct-to-consumer business was always on our roadmap, but we certainly hadn’t planned on launching it in 30 days in the middle of a pandemic,” says Michael Lindsey, chief growth officer at Frito-Lay. “The pandemic inspired our teams to move faster that we would have dreamed possible.”
The crisis has accelerated the adoption of analytics and AI, and that momentum will continue into the 2020s, according to surveys. According to a PwC study, 52% of companies accelerated their plans to introduce AI due to the Covid crisisa study by PwC finds. Just about all, 86%, say that AI is becoming a “mainstream technology” at their company in 2021.Harris Poll, working with Appen, found that 55% of companies said they have accelerated their AI strategy in 2020 thanks to Covid, and 67% expect it to continue accelerating their AI in 2021.
Will Companies to be able to sustain this fast pace of digital and data-driven innovation as the world emerges from Covid? In the wake of the crisis, according to a survey by The AI Journal, around three quarters of business leaders (72%) see themselves positively about the role of AI in the future. Most executives (74%) assume that AI will not only enable more efficient business processes in manufacturing, but will also help develop new business models (55%) and enable the development of new products and services (54%).
Artificial intelligence and analytics became critical to businesses as they responded to the changes in working arrangements and consumer purchases caused by the Covid crisis. And as the adoption of these technologies progresses rapidly, companies will build on lessons learned from the last half of the year that will guide their efforts for the next decade:
Business leaders understand firsthand the power and potential of analytics and AI on their businesses. “Since Covid hit, CEOs are now leaning in, asking how they can take advantage of data?” says Arnab Chakraborty, global managing director at Accenture. “They want to understand how to get a better sense of their customers. They want to create more agility in their supply chains and distribution networks. They want to start creating new business models powered by data. They know they need to build a data foundation, taking all of the data sets, putting them into an insights engine using all the algorithms, and powering insights solutions that can help them optimize their businesses, create more agility in business processes, know their customers, and activate new revenue channels.”
AI is of crucial importance To alleviate the skills shortage Industries that have been hit by the Covid crisis, such as travel, hospitality and other services, need resources to prepare for the pent-up demand.A shortage of skilled workers has arisen across industries in many areas, from truck drivers to warehouse workers to restaurant workers. Ironically, there is an ever more pressing need for AI and analytics development to make up for the lack of AI development skills. Future Index will see a “strong recovery” in the US labor market over the next year, especially those related to technology. AI, algorithm and automation jobs saw a 28% increase over the previous quarter.
AI is a critical part of developing solutions to what are likely to be ongoing and ever-changing training and skill needs, agrees Rob Jekielek, CEO of Harris Poll. “AI is already beginning to fill the existing shortage of skilled workers with tools to support the career transition. AI also helps employees complete their existing and developing jobs better and faster. With the help of digital assistants and internal AI-supported training programs. ”
AI will also help alleviate skills shortages by augmenting support activities. “Given how more and more products are either digital products or other kinds of technology products with user interfaces, there is a growing need for support personnel,” says Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at Thought works. “Many of straightforward questions can be addressed with a suitably trained chatbot, alleviating at least some pressure. Similarly, there are natural language processing systems that can do simple document scanning, often for more canned phrases.”
AI and analytics are delivering new products and services. Analytics and AI have helped to step-up the pace of innovation undertaken by companies such as Frito-Lay. For example, during the pandemic, the food producer delivered an e-commerce platform, Snacks.com, “our first foray into the direct-to-consumer business, in just 30 days,” says Lindsey. The company is now employing analytics to leverage its shopper and outlet data “to predict store openings, shifts in demand due to return to work, and changes in tastes that are allowing us to reset the product offerings all the way down to the store level within a particular zip code,” he adds.
AI accentuates corporate values. “The way we develop AI reflects our company culture — we state our approach in two words — ‘responsible growth,’’’ says Sumeet Chabria, global chief operating officer technology and operations at Bank of America. “We are in the trust business. We believe one of the key elements of our growth — the use of technology, data, and artificial intelligence — must be deployed responsibly. As a part of that, our strategy around AI is Responsible AI; that means Being customer led. It starts with what the customer needs and the consequence of your solution to the customer; Being process led. How does AI fit into your business process? Did the process dictate the right solution?”
Artificial intelligence and analytics solve problems in the supply chain. After the Covid crisis, there are after-effects as the economy is picking up again: Problems with items from semiconductors to wood have become scarce due to disruptions caused by the crisis. Businesses forecast, prepare, and identify issues that can affect their ability to deliver products and services. These are still the early days of AI-powered supply chains. A survey published by the American Center for Productivity and Quality shows that only 13% of executives expect AI or cognitive computing to have an impact in the next year. Another 17% predict a moderate impact.Organizations continue to rely on manual methods to monitor their supply chains – those who adopt AI in the months and years to come will see significant competitive differentiation.
“Supply chain planning addressing disruptions in the supply chain can benefit in two ways,” says Parsons. “The first is for the easy problems to be handled by the AI system. This frees up the human to address the more complex supply chain problems. However, the AI system can also provide support even in the more complex cases by, for example, providing possible solutions to consider or speeding up an analysis of possible solutions by completing a solution from a proposal on a specific part of the problem.”
AI is fueling startups, while helping companies manage disruption. Startups are targeting established industries by employing the latest data-driven technologies to enter new markets with new solutions. AI and analytics presents “a tremendous opportunity for both startups and established companies,” says Chakraborty. “Startups cannot do AI standalone. They can only solve a part of the puzzle. This is where collaboration becomes very important. The bigger organizations have an opportunity to embrace those startups, and make them part of their ecosystem.”
At the same time, AI is helping established companies compete with startups through the ability to test and iterate on potential opportunities far more rapidly and at far broader scale,” says Jekielek. “This enables established companies to both identify high potential opportunity areas more quickly as well as determine if it makes most sense to compete or, especially is figured out early, acquire.”
The emerging boom in business growth and innovation is data-driven. As the world finally emerges on the other side of the Covid crisis, there will be opportunities for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators to create value and start new businesses that can be implemented quickly. reconfigured and aligned as customer needs change. Next generation technologies (artificial intelligence and analytics) will play a key role in fueling business innovation and advancement in this environment, as well as in fueling new business models.