The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t letting up any time soon. Countries which have relaxed their lockdown measures following a decrease in the number of positive cases are now experiencing a resurgence in numbers of confirmed infections.
Governments are already planning to reintroduce restrictions to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of over 800,000 people worldwide.
As this global crisis continues to challenge economic sustainability, the business landscape has to adapt to new methods and tools in order to stay afloat. Sure enough, this crisis has opened up new spaces for discussing genuine innovation.
With much of the world’s population restricted from venturing outside for risk of exposure to the virus, there is a much greater need for technologies that fit within the confines of the “new normal”.
Artificial intelligence and robotics have existed for quite some time, but this current crisis has placed the spotlight on how businesses can develop and adopt these technologies in the post-coronavirus world.
This is not to downplay the effects of the pandemic, but it does help us develop a clear vision of the future.
So, what will automation look like in the years to come? It’s hard to tell exactly, but we are seeing developments that should give us an idea.
Big data becomes even more essential
Prior to the pandemic, businesses were already aware of the challenges in handling and processing huge volumes of information. This has prompted enterprises to adopt sophisticated analytics technology that allows them to translate raw data into actionable insights, allowing them to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Seeing the added value that effective big data management entails, organizations (especially those in the healthcare and financial services sectors) have invested their resources in acquiring predictive analytics tools driven by artificial intelligence (AI). These tools allow them to generate accurate market insights that will support effective decision-making.
While constraints on tech spending will surely affect the adoption of big data analytics tools, a report by the ResearchandMarkets.com suggests that the demand for such tools will increase as organizations realign their priorities and focus more on acquiring the technology they need to stay relevant and profitable.
With the added value that automation brings, businesses will have to consider AI as an essential component for their survival.
Robotics tools will help protect workforces
To date, the Covid-19 pandemic has displaced millions of workers, especially those in the travel and hospitality industries. Considerable losses have also been reported in the manufacturing industry where companies have been forced to make layoffs in order to mitigate the effects of a global reduction in the demand for certain goods or services, as the World Bank sees oil prices drop to new lows.
Mitigating the pandemic’s effects on vulnerable industries is a matter that relies heavily on public policy. Then again, governments will have to make a difficult choice between reopening the economy and limiting certain industries to save lives.
At any rate, companies will need to explore other means to maintain their productive capacities without laying off workers and putting their health at risk — an issue that AI tools and robotics can help mitigate.
In an article published in WeForum.com, Indian factories have adopted several technologies that ensure compliance to government health and safety protocols. The use of mobile phones for contact tracing as well as AI-powered early warning systems have kept employees safe in the country’s manufacturing sector.
These allow factories to lessen the risk of closing down as a result of chain infections, and there’s no doubt we will see a wider application of such technology even after Covid-19 becomes a manageable ailment.
Opening up new doors: Automation in agriculture and construction
Two sectors are getting the most value from adopting automation: agriculture and construction. In fact, investments in these industries have risen steadily in the past years, creating a ripple effect that emboldens parts suppliers.
Apart from predictive analytics and drone technology, construction and agriculture have posted a high demand for heavy machinery which are wired to AI-driven systems. This high demand for automation also leads to an increase in the demand for parts and cost-effective quality control procedures.
Suppliers and operators of self-driving tractors turn to companies like Laserax for marking data matrix codes onto components, leading to better traceability in the production process and throughout the parts’ life cycle.
No doubt, this will also open up new doors for other companies to walk into as they capitalize on automation’s increasing influence in agriculture and manufacturing.
As the number of worldwide cases continues to increase, we can at least expect the pandemic’s effect on the economy to ease up as research institutions are inching closer towards a vaccine.
Businesses, meanwhile, will have to take the time to think about how to bounce back from this crisis using the opportunities that AI and robotics have brought to the table.