For now, at least, it seems Australia has successfully “flattened the curve”.
We’re starting to emerge from lockdown – and thankfully, from a health perspective Australia seems to have been spared some of the horrors of other countries. With family living in the UK, France and New York, I’m acutely aware that the impact of COVID-19 has varied widely around the world.
From an economic perspective, COVID-19 has affected many industries – travel, retail, hospitality, entertainment and higher education to name a few. On the whole, technology companies have fared a little better as they navigate the current environment, but still face unique challenges as they establish their own ‘new normal’.
During this period, the importance of big data and trusted analytics has never been more vital. Artificial Intelligence has been in the news lately for a number of reasons, including the early detection of the pandemic and frontline resourcing and vaccine research.
How can we apply AI to help businesses recover from COVID-19?
We have conversations every day exploring the possibilities of AI with existing and potential clients. The challenges that organisations are facing right across the globe don’t have a playbook and navigating the next few months will undoubtedly be complex.
Our work generally falls into one or more of the following five areas:
Being able to forecast future behaviour based on past experience, for example forecasting conversion rate for an online retailer or when predicting when a machine is likely to require maintenance.
The ability to recognise people, objects or situations in a scene, often using computer vision technology, or recognizing patterns in data. This could include showing social distance between people or recognizing heavy machinery on a pedestrian area of a work site.
- Conversation & Language
Enabling interaction between user and software using either voice or text. It requires understanding of a user’s intent and the ability to understand language and context. The equivalent of Siri or Alexa with the specific knowledge of a company’s “corporate dictionary” of acronyms, systems and processes.
Using machine learning across different data sources to build a unique profile of an individual and act upon this information with targeted marketing messages, personalised offers and unique discounts. It’s the ability to treat everyone as an individual rather than as part of a generalized market segment.
- Outlier Detection
This is the ability to detect unusual activity, patterns or behaviour which are ‘outside of the norm’ based on the available data.
Applying our AI methods to COVID recovery
Which of the above are most likely to be beneficial as companies return from lockdown? We’re seeing clear trends in the market around:
- Recognition of people and situations
- Hyper-personalised marketing
The main focus for most companies is on returning to work and opening up to staff and customers safely. This requires a good understanding of the challenges within the physical environment.
Computer vision technology can be applied using existing security cameras for functions such as counting people in an area. Algorithms can detect people proximity issues, which can lead to either real-time alerts or heat maps to show flow of ‘traffic’. With some specialist equipment, heat-sensing technology can be applied to see temperature outliers within a group of staff or customers which might indicate a fever.
Companies are also looking at doing more with less. Hyper-personalised marketing can be applied to target product offerings to customers, re-engaging them without adding significant cost. Similar personalisation techniques are being applied within an enterprise to improve internal communications and improve technology adoption.
Prediction using machine learning is likely to face challenges in the short term. Most models make certain inherent assumptions based on the data used to train the model, which may have seen large deviations from the norm.
Finally, automation technologies in general are increasingly being used to remove cost from operations. Though not typically “intelligent”, these are an effective way of automating many data processing tasks which can drive significant cost savings in the short term.
It’s been inspiring to see the innovation and ingenuity of so many businesses as they navigate this incredibly challenging period. It’s great to see that many businesses are looking at technology as a solution to the current obstacles.
Now more than ever, companies need projects to deliver value quickly. If you would like more details on how Red Marble can help, please get in touch.