Within a short span of a month, the world has transformed as the coronavirus pandemic took control of countries, economies, and people’s lives. Humanity watched in disbelief as this unprecedented phenomenon took shape and within weeks, the world has been shut down and the mantra, ‘Stay Home’ has become the new normal. With close to 2.4 million cases and 170,000 deaths worldwide (as of 21st April 2020), more than 100 countries have implemented complete or partial lockdowns.
With several businesses closed down, the economic implications of COVID 19 have also been massive. Responses from a McKinsey Global Survey conducted this month showed growing concerns regarding the world economy amongst business executives. The overall sentiment towards the economy has shifted to the bleak side as two-thirds of the executives are anticipating a recession and about 61% have a negative outlook on company profits in the coming few months.
Organizations have been forced to adopt new operational strategies and problem-solving approaches as they respond to the COVID 19 impact on business. Customers across industries are purchasing goods and availing services online.
An after-effect of the coronavirus outbreak has been the shift of the customer behaviour towards digital channels and it is here to stay even later. Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning will be immensely valuable in fuelling this digital transformation during and post-COVID 19.
Let’s understand how industries are responding with AI/ML to mitigate the COVID 19 impact on business.
Triage in Healthcare
As hospital emergency rooms across the world get flooded with patients due to the pandemic, healthcare workers are finding it hard to triage patients. Triage means segregating incoming patients according to the severity of their illness to determine who needs intensive care. Since Italy has been one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus, doctors faced tough decisions trying to decide the extent of care a patient required at the peak of its crisis.
Artificial Intelligence-based systems trained on Machine learning models to provide clinical decision support are coming to the aid of doctors. The University of Chicago, for instance, is working on an existing AI system that can predict which patients need intensive care by analyzing data from Electronic Medical Records. The university is currently upgrading this system to work on COVID specific outcomes to mitigate emergencies and allow doctors to act well in advance.
Partners Healthcare implemented a similar AI solution with a simple chatbot that asked patients a series of questions to determine which of them could develop severe conditions due to COVID 19. It significantly reduced high volumes of patient traffic to their hotline, which was earlier witnessing wait times of over 30 minutes.
New digital journeys in banking & finance
The financial services sector is facing new challenges as they are not able to serve their customers in physical branches due to social distancing measures and nationwide lockdowns. Individuals and business owners are in strained financial situations which is making them reach out to their banks with concerns, questions and requests for financial assistance.
All these factors during the COVID 19 pandemic are forcing banks to switch to digital & remote channels for business continuity. Banks are relying heavily on digitizing core-banking processes such as eKYC, digital signature collection, and online document submission. To handle the growing volume of customer queries, banks are leaning on contactless customer engagement.
The role of Artificial intelligence here is becoming increasingly significant as automation and RPA (robotic process automation) are rescuing financial institutions like never before. Banks are deploying the customer-facing voice & chatbots at various points in the customer journey.
Take for instance a customer uses an e-banking or mobile application to open a new account, fills up the form and uploads KYC documents. Bots will then get to work and use OCR to digitize the scanned copies, AI/ML to extract data like the name, address, contact details etc. and match them up with government databases. Further, AI-powered bots and Machine learning algorithms will designate risk scores by using text mining techniques against government databases. These bots generate an automated report to tell whether the account opening process was approved or rejected.
Organizations that have yet to invest their efforts and resources into software engineering capabilities like building cloud-native applications, modernizing legacy systems for digital transformation, and data analytics & artificial intelligence will find it difficult to navigate through the aftermath of this pandemic.
Coping with huge cancellations in Aviation
The travel and hospitality industry is one of the worst-hit due to the pandemic. Amidst travel restrictions across the globe and the rising fear over safety, the airlines have received a deluge of rebookings, cancellations, and frantic customer queries.
With such huge volumes and little time, training new agents is not a feasible option. To put it in perspective, one airline received 120,000 cancellation requests when the pandemic broke out, a 4000% rise from the standard. AI came to their rescue as they leveraged RPA to create a bot with the help of a leading software technology company. The airline could then clear 4000 requests daily, thus clearing out the growing backlogs and relieving customer care agents to handle more important tasks.
Disruptions in retail supply chain
Before the pandemic, companies assumed that there would be a free flow of materials at a global level and designed their supply chain strategies accordingly. They would source, produce, and distribute products mapping out low-cost locations across the world. At this point, retailers across the globe are in a difficult situation as retail supply chains are crumbling down.
Retail business owners need to demonstrate agility and the capability to redesign strategies during these uncertain times. Organizations must come up with supply chain intelligent workflows with the support of Artificial Intelligence to scale outcomes. Here are a few action points to leverage Artificial intelligence to mitigate the COVID 19 business impact on retail.
- AI can help you revamp your sourcing strategies by leveraging unstructured data in real-time to manage risks against the desired operational flexibility. It will alert you regarding potential disruptions across the supply chain networks to help you take corrective action on time.
- AI, analytics and visualization tools can help you in smart supply chain modelling and scenario analysis. It will allow you to assess geopolitical risks, natural disasters and more so that you can take proactive steps to determine alternate sources, optimize logistics routes, and reposition inventory anywhere in the supply chain.
- Implement data sharing platforms so that stakeholders and strategic decision-makers can collaborate to anticipate disruptions and respond to resolve issues quickly.
Demand and supply forecasts will not be easy to manage if you do not have the right data & insights at hand at lightning speed. Keeping this need for relevant data & insights at a fast pace in mind, Knoldus created a COVID-19 dashboard to represent the impacts of the pandemic on various countries in a single view. If you want to customize this dashboard specifically for your business needs or create similar dashboards to visualize your business metrics with quick turnaround time, we are here for you.
Shift to contactless customer service
As physical contact centers shut down operations across the world, the COVID 19 business impact has put healthcare, local governments, and customer service operations across industries into an unforeseen situation. We have already discussed above as to how industries like banking and aviation have made use of contactless customer engagement options.
In a crisis like COVID 19, public health organizations are fighting at the frontlines to be able to handle growing volumes of queries regarding the outbreak and probable symptoms so that patients can be screened to be given proper medical attention. In the wake of this, organizations like U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is combating the situation with AI-enabled bots .
This healthcare bot service has been built using the cloud to help deploy AI powered bots for websites and applications that deliver address health related queries of people with a personalized approach. Other tech giants are also stepping up with AI and natural language processing enabled chatbots to automate the process and mobile apps for patient screening.
We strongly encourage organizations across industries to consider AI/ML solutions to combat the COVID 19 business impact so that they can stay relevant not just today, but also in the post-COVID era. Organizations that are responding at the forefront of this unforeseen phenomenon have already kickstarted their AI/ML efforts. AI will continue to help organizations adapt to emerging phenomena like remote working, redundancy in the value chain, transforming customer patterns and much more.
Knoldus can help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis with the right technologies…
At Knoldus, we believe that collaborative efforts will go a long way in managing and responding to this crisis. We highly recommend you to better serve your customers by enhancing the support of digital solutions & prepare for the next normal. Our digital transformation solutions include technologies like Reactive microservices, Fast Data, Artificial Intelligence, Real-time Data Analytics at scale and more.
Knoldus has brought together insights and solutions to help you overcome the COVID-19 business challenges you currently face and help you prepare for the future.
We are also helping our customers in these tough times with Pre-assessments of their current IT infrastructure. If you’re looking for similar solutions to determine gaps to automate your operations, reach out to us. Get in touch with us to schedule a call with our expert or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.