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The current global crisis has ushered in a tough new reality that makes it difficult for employers and employees to cope, and we are all struggling. Let’s face it — with record unemployment and an uptick in virus cases across North America, we all know that it’s hard out there. The economic landscape is jagged and scary, and another Great Recession looms over us, threatening to bite even deeper than the crisis of 2008. For every sensible business that has survived thus far, now is the time to limit exposure to the economic storm that’s building overhead.
For many organizations, that starts with cost-cutting — a perennial “go-to” in hard times. And when it comes time to make cuts, new technologies that were just getting embedded before COVID-19 struck may be among the first victims of a jittery C-suite searching for ways to survive.
But before you’re tempted to cut back on your pre-recession push into AI and big data investments, please consider this: Any company that, instead of trimming or axing, has the courage to double down on its tech investment will reap the rewards. Just as the world’s healthcare workers are nursing populations back to physical health, AI and big data will be the heroes who lead us out of recession. And if that weren’t enough reason to stick with your pre-virus tech plans, here are some more reasons why AI and big data will save the day and are worth investing in during this perilous time.
AI and big data will:
- Boost Productivity: Employee-led productivity growth is the key to returning entire economies back to health, and it is here that artificial intelligence truly shines. Far from eliminating jobs, AI will help to build the uber-productive workforce of the future — a workforce that optimizes time instead of wasting it. One of the greatest appeals of AI is the tangible insights it can yield, as well as the answers it can provide to business-critical questions such as: How many productive hours are worked in a day? And, more importantly, how can we increase them?
- Help You Fine-Tune Your Business: AI and big data will free employees from mundane tasks and give them time to both chase new clients and get to know your existing ones deeply. This will allow organizations to radically personalize offerings to them — the best way to secure their long-term loyalty among the most talented employee base. AI will help you spot the trends in your sector, make accurate sales forecasts, and mine your social media relationship with your customers to release profound insights for your research and marketing departments to really sink their teeth into.
- Generate New Business and New Customers: This will happen, but only if you have positioned your business well by investing in the above. It’s arguably the most significant insight we in the technology world are missing — customers want all the benefits of new tech, even if they don’t understand it, even if they’re afraid it may take their job. The person who is concerned about losing their job to robots is, at the same time, the person who wants early and accurate detection of autism and cancer at one end of the spectrum and a tailored-for-them list of movies and music at the other. Just because many of your customers don’t understand how AI and big data drive the services they rely on does not mean they do not want their benefits. So, if you fail to offer those advantages, someone else will — and they will take your customers with them.
- Nurture a New Post-COVID-19 Worker: This is the worker who has thought about life deeply during lockdown and now wants more life and less work or more meaningful work, at least. AI can automate so much that is drudgery, leaving employees with more interesting jobs and employers with more loyal workers as a result. If you fail to move with the times and offer more satisfying and creative work, your best people will find it elsewhere.
- Drive a New Wave of Tech-Skilled Young People: Companies need the new generation of workers fresh out of schools and colleges who are AI-savvy. Right now is the best time to attract the best and the brightest AI and big data talent. There will be an almighty scramble for the best talent, and if you are seen as a tech dinosaur by the next generation, they will take their skills elsewhere.
- Drive Unforeseen Opportunities: Disruptions of the kind AI and big data are causing always create new markets and unforeseen opportunities. A Deloitte report (which calls tech “the great job-creating machine”) highlights unforeseen results of technology uptake, such as the car leading to the growth of suburbs. As the report points out, it is impossible to tell what goods and services people will demand in future — coffee shops, gyms, and the importance of cell phones would have been completely unpredicted just 50 years ago. The question is, what incredible opportunities may emerge from left field if you stick with your tech investment today?
The 2008 recession drove technology into the heart of businesses as organizations sought efficiencies and new opportunities. Now, as we stare another crisis in the face, the winners and losers will, without a doubt, divide along tech investment lines.
Right now, we need AI and big data more than ever to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and the looming Great Recession. Is your organization brave enough to take the right steps now to build a brighter future? Or will your organization get left behind due to fear or inertia? The choice is yours right now. Now is the time to seize the day. Carpe diem.