Prepare for some big changes
A couple of reports caught our attention over the last few weeks. Artificial Intelligence (AI) was failing to forecast things during the pandemic. The reason was that AI needed lots of past data to run its predictive engines. But COVID-19, being a once-in-a-century event, doesn’t have past data. It was a key reason why this malfunctioning of AI programs was anticipated. With large swathes of the world population staying at home, normal life has hit the pause button. Routines, needs, and priorities are changing every day. And marketers are feeling the heat as their plans are being thrown out of the window. Switching to an unscripted marketing model calls for more insight into the shifting consumer mindset, and that’s a moving target now.
Retailers faced a major information deficit when the global lockdown happened, as customer interactions over the counter dried up. That’s a big problem, because a robust flow of such information is the lifeblood of customer loyalty programs, AI-driven product recommendations, and a range of mission-critical business decisions. The data-to-decision process has been severely disrupted across industries, from hotels and tourism, to automobiles, retail, education and other sectors which, likewise, depend on person-to-person contact generating information.
This would mean that what worked in BC (Before Coronavirus) won’t work in the PC (Post-COVID) future. We, therefore, need to question our basic assumptions about everything, and figure out opportunities that no one has yet seen. The basic architectures of our businesses, the supply chain for example, must be created afresh on a clean slate. What has worked before is now creating barriers – for instance our workspace infrastructures. With a high percentage of employees now working from home on an indefinite basis, organizations are bearing the burden of idle real estate.
It’s not going to be a question of restarting things from where we paused, but rather starting anew on a fresh slate. Restarting from the same point, and in the same mode, would no longer be possible – simply because the rules have changed. It’s a huge opportunity and a challenge at the same time. The best part is that no one can now dictate terms based on the logic that this was how it has always been done. What worked before, won’t work now or tomorrow. Models are evolving continuously, given the massive inflow of new data on a regular basis.
However, one thing is for certain: irrespective of the effectiveness of AI during this pandemic, AI will most definitely have a crucial role to play in the next, and will ensure that it is mitigated much better.