Automated World: How Companies Are Using AI to Build COVID-19 Resilience
Unprecedented business challenges require novel solutions, and automation stands ready to rise to the challenge. As businesses emerge from the COVID crisis we look at how the AI industry is meeting that challenge and how companies are using AI to build COVID-19 resilience.
All the evidence suggests the novel coronavirus isn’t going anywhere any time soon, meaning the world – and its businesses – must adapt to survive.
Faced with challenges such as reduced workforces, falling customer numbers, and the need to maintain social distancing, organisations are turning to tech.
As our artificial intelligence (AI) market report shows, adoption accelerated in the first half of 2020. What’s more, it shows no sign of stopping.
AI inflection point
Just a few short months ago, the world started to shut its doors, the economy ground to a halt, and everything we thought we knew about selling goods and services changed overnight.
As we emerge bleary-eyed from the crisis, businesses understand that, for at least the foreseeable future, things have changed. To survive, they must adapt.
Meanwhile, AI is at an inflection point. Advances in computing power and an explosion in data collection capabilities and knowhow has resulted in a flurry of standardisation and automation.
This digital transformation process will only be accelerated by the masses of information expected to be generated by the Internet of Things (IoT).
It couldn’t have come at a better time for the organisations now facing previously unimagined challenges and with the impetus to speed up AI adoption.
Changing threat level
After decades of planning to get as many people through their doors as possible, organisations are now being told they need to minimise human interaction.
That means accommodating remote working and online ordering wherever possible, yet keeping both staff and customers safe when there is no option but to show up “IRL”.
Automation, in its most simple and most sophisticated forms, is oiling the wheels of this transformation.
Robotic process automation (RPA), or software bots, are being trained to carry out simple, mundane office tasks, for example, and coronavirus detection is being added to the list of automated security checks.
Albert Stepanyan, founder and CEO at Scylla.ai, told Hampleton Partners: “Security demands are growing, particularly for remote automation and surveillance, because of social distancing guidelines.”
As a result, demand for Scylla products has risen by at least 200 per cent since the start of the pandemic, he said, adding that the company has released a new product, which uses thermal cameras to test temperatures, look for masks, and check physical distancing.
Such applications, which shift the risk/benefit profile of the AI privacy conversation, will only become more common as we learn to live cheek by jowl with the new coronavirus.
The hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by the current crisis, but companies are using AI and automation to fight back.
McDonalds, which was closed for months during the peak of the pandemic, is demonstrating how previously-laid automation plans are being scaled up.
In September, the multinational acquired Apprente, a speech recognition technology that can automate voice-based ordering in various languages. The company’s aim, according to TechCrunch, is to create voice-activated drive-thrus that result in faster, simpler, and more accurate ordering.
As well as lowering waiting times – which would no doubt please the thousands pictured queuing for Big Macs in recent weeks – it could also allow restaurants to operate with smaller numbers of staff in a time of social distancing.
Financial institutions had also already started to invest in the digital revolution as a way to maintain standards, drive up efficiencies, and retain customers.
In October, Mastercard acquired SessionM, a loyalty marketing automation SaaS, for $215 million. It uses machine learning algorithms to serve up personalised, real-time offers based on individual customer data, and contains features for advertising campaign management, customer engagement, and audience analytics and reporting.
In a similar acquisition Oracle acquired CrowdTwist, which provides loyalty and reward-based marketing automation and customer analytics SaaS, for an estimated $130 million.
According to MarTech Series, the solution offers more than “100 out-of-the-box engagement paths, providing rapid time-to-value for marketers to develop a more complete view of the customer”.
Such systems can give corporations the competitive upper hand, allowing them to analyse and leverage customer behaviour and preferences to tailor marketing. As we face a post-crisis economic downturn, this has become even more important.
Automation, from simple RPAs to complex marketing analytics algorithms, are being deployed to keep staff and clients safe, adapt to new business models, and improve customer retention.
Exponential increases in available data and the burning necessity to “get back to work” after the COVID-19 emergency is accelerating the adoption of AI across industries – and that is only set to continue.
Update on Tech M&A During COVID-19: Webinar series
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Hampleton's Miro Parizek, Dr. Jan Eiben and Anton Røthe will deliver an update fresh from the market and answer your questions about selling your business in times of #COVID19.
Wednesday 12 August
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About Hampleton Partners
Hampleton Partners is at the forefront of international mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance advisory for companies with technology at their core. Hampleton’s experienced deal makers have built, bought and sold over 100 fast-growing tech businesses and provide hands-on expertise and unrivalled advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies which are looking to accelerate growth and maximise value.
With offices in London, Frankfurt, Stockholm and San Francisco, Hampleton offers a global perspective with sector expertise in: Artificial Intelligence, Autotech, Cybersecurity, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Software, Fintech, Healthtech, HR Tech, Insurtech and IT & Business Services.
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