In an era of constant change, companies' data and analytics capabilities must rapidly adapt to ensure that the business survives, never mind competes. Organizations seek insights from their data to inform strategic priorities in real time, yet much of the historical data and modeling formerly applied to predict future behavior and guide actions are proving to be far less predictive, or even irrelevant, in our current normal with COVID-19. In order to survive through crises, proactively detect trends, and respond to new challenges, companies need to develop greater analytical agility. This agility comes from three areas: improving the quality and connections of the data itself, augmenting analytical "horsepower" at the organization level, and leveraging talent that is capable of bridging business needs with analytics to find opportunity in the data. Get monthly email updates on how artificial intelligence and big data are affecting the development and execution of strategy in organizations. The quest for better data is not new, but the cost of not having it is easier to substantiate and understand in a time of crisis.
When employees are encouraged or mandated to spend less time on a worksite or in a factory because of social distancing guidelines, drones can take the place of their eyes and ears to autonomously monitor facilities -- both indoors and out. In the municipalities, manufacturing, construction, oil and gas industries, using AI and computer vision in unmanned aerial vehicles can augment existing workforces for even greater distribution. Drones can identify hazards or noncompliance issues and notify site managers to prevent errors that lead to accidents. Over time, remote monitoring reduces costs and boosts revenues in low-margin industries through quality assurance. In construction, drones may use laser scanning to accurately measure progress at the site, comparing data collected with computer-aided design models for the project.
I had the pleasure of talking with futurist and the managing partner of ChangeistScott Smith recently about some of the biggest macro trends everyone should be aware of today. While these trends had already begun prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in many ways, they accelerated as the world fought to deal with the pandemic and now as we begin to build our post-COVID-19 world. Here are the six future trends he believes everyone should be ready for. The "decoupling" of economies had already started pre-COVID-19 with early indicators appearing five to 10 years ago, according to some thought leaders, but the pandemic certainly made it more clear how dependence on globalization could create vulnerabilities. Some of the world's major powers, such as the UK, the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, and parts of the European Union, had already started to favor nationalism.
Insurers who invested heavily in innovative technologies like artificial intelligence before the pandemic are now reaping the greatest benefits – but there remains plenty of room to grow. Over the months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, the group insurance industry has moved from putting out fires towards a new "business as usual," with remote work, redesigned business processes, and limited face to face meetings or business travel. While most insurers are doing their best to ensure business continuity and maintain pre-pandemic customer-service standards, many were exposed to a sudden shockwave of evolved customer expectations and challenges in transitioning employees to a virtual work environment. Group insurance providers were particularly exposed to the unknown, including a possible reduction in revenues due to business closures, layoffs, and group plan cancellations. On the other hand, there were fewer claims as many insured employees stopped seeing their dentists, doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and so on. While the pandemic has propelled the economic conditions for serious disruption in the group benefits industry, many established insurers have discovered the benefits of innovative technologies in this "new normal."
With its unique ability to identify and'learn' from data patterns and to develop predictive mappings between variables – machine and deep learning – artificial intelligence (AI) has proved to be an indispensable tool in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. AI has enabled the deployment of predictive models of potential disease contagion and containment, and has been used for screening and tracking patients. AI has been deployed across the globe to improve understanding of the potential consequences of the viral infection for different economy sectors. Companies have increasingly relied on machine-learning-enabled systems to reengineer production delivery in the face of a massive disruption in supply chains. Policy-makers have also turned to AI technologies due to their great promise in strengthening the quality of remote education delivery, at times where schools and education systems struggle to remain accessible to learners.
A major new report led by the Novartis Foundation and Microsoft shows how investment in data and AI is critical to drive the health system improvements needed to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the world's other greatest healthcare challenges. Reimagining Global Health through Artificial Intelligence: The Roadmap to AI Maturity was developed by the Broadband Commission Working Group on Digital and AI in Health, which the Novartis Foundation and Microsoft co-chair. Based on a landscape review of over 300 existing use cases of AI in health, the report shows how AI is already disrupting health and care. It then presents a roadmap to help countries use AI to transform their health systems from being reactive to proactive, predictive, and even preventive. Low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) that grapple with systemic health challenges such as a shortage of health workers, underserved populations, rapid urbanization and disinformation have the most to gain from AI – but they also have the most to lose.
Always worried about the potential for embarrassing background noises at home during video meetings? Microsoft is working on an update that could save you from future videoconferencing faux pas. The company's Microsoft 365 roadmap lists as in development "AI-based real-time noise suppression," which is scheduled for release in November 2020. The feature, spotted by news site Windows Latest, "will automatically remove unwelcome background noise during your meetings." Artificial intelligence technology is used to analyze a user's audio and "specially trained deep neural networks" will filter out noises and keep the person's voice, the software giant's planning document says.
When employees at an industrial site returned to the workplace after it was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, they noticed a few differences. Sensors or RFID tags were used to determine whether employees were washing their hands regularly. Computer vision determined if employees were complying with mask protocol and speakers were used to warn people of protocol violations. What's more, this behavioral data was collected and analyzed by the organizations to influence how people behaved at work . The collection and use of such data to drive behaviors is called the Internet of Behavior (IoB).
The "internet of behaviors," total experiences, anywhere operations, automation and AI engineering are among the top strategic technologies for chief information officers for 2021, according to Gartner. The research firm, which is holding its Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo virtually, outlined its top strategic technologies and the theme is "plasticity," or the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Gartner's top strategic technologies are clearly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and how enterprises had to go digital in a hurry. Rest assured that Gartner has its share of buzzwords in its 2021 trends listing, but the technologies in whole tell a story. Gartner argues that IoB combines technologies focused on tracking individuals such as location and facial recognition and connects the data and maps them to behavioral events. By 2025, half the world's population will be subject to an IoB commercial or government program.