AI and automation were becoming standard business practices long before the pandemic. As coronavirus shutdowns send shockwaves throughout the economy, though, companies turn to these solutions faster than ever before. Organizations around the world are investing in automated systems to maintain efficiency through the outbreak.
Companies are having to deal with a myriad of complications as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many have had to scale back and let staff go, and some are facing new and unexpected demands. Tools like AI have become vital to sustainment amid the growing recession.
1. Sustaining Manufacturing Output
The manufacturing industry has been a leading adopter of robotics for years, and the coronavirus outbreak will strengthen this trend. As quarantine regulations lead to a rise in e-commerce, some manufacturers are experiencing increased demand. To meet this rising need despite a reduced workforce, they turn to industrial robotics.
Experts expect the industrial robotics market to grow due to the pandemic. Thanks to economic cutbacks and increasing health concerns, many manufacturers are facing labor shortages. As a result, the industry is seeing an increasingly automated workforce, as robots don't need pay and don't get sick.
2. Responding to Customers
Many people think of AI and automation as behind-the-scenes solutions, but this isn't always the case. Chatbots are an increasingly popular application of AI, and the COVID-19 outbreak has solidified their potential. More and more businesses are using chatbots to handle customer service as employees focus on more pressing matters.
Accessible and informative customer service is more critical now than ever, as the pandemic causes mass confusion and concern. Chatbots can provide support around the clock, so customers can get answers to their questions at any time they need. Having AI handle these concerns also frees up the limited available staff to work on other tasks.
3. Streamlining Administrative Tasks
Coronavirus shutdowns aren't the only virus-related factors that threaten companies' productivity levels. As many employees transition into remote work, they may experience difficulty getting adjusted, making it harder to perform at the same level of efficiency. Some businesses are adopting robotic process automation (RPA) to help with these concerns.
RPA technology can handle administrative work like accounting so that employees can divert their attention to high-value tasks. Amid all the confusion of transition, streamlining monotonous regulatory work can help employees perform better at more critical tasks. RPA is especially beneficial to companies that need to restructure HR resources like schedules and sick day policies.
4. Cleaning Grocery Store Aisles
Some companies haven't faced cutbacks or staff shortages but still need AI and automation to increase efficiency. As essential businesses, grocery stores have to stay open, and with the outbreak, they need to be careful about hygiene. Many have started using janitorial robots to ensure aisles are clean while workers continue to help shoppers.
These stores have to meet much higher cleaning standards to prevent the virus from spreading. With robots taking care of cleaning floors, employees are free to clean things like self-checkout kiosks and shopping carts. That way, grocery stores meet new hygiene standards without sacrificing time or customer support.
5. Processing COVID-19 Tests
Hospitals and other medical centers are experiencing a massive influx of patients due to the pandemic. To provide appropriate care for everyone, these institutions need to find ways of increasing their testing efficiency. The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, has deployed software robots to address this issue.
These automated programs can organize and produce COVID-19 test results in just a matter of minutes. With robots taking care of these duties, nurses can spend more time attending to patients. The high speeds offered by the machines also allow medical staff to track the spread of the virus more effectively.
AI and Automation Amid COVID-19
AI and automation have presented a significant potential for businesses for years, but the pandemic has solidified it. Now that efficiency is a more dire concern, companies are adopting automated systems at an unprecedented rate. Any fears or concerns over AI businesses might've fallen away in the face of urgent need.
The trend of automation adoption likely won't end when coronavirus shutdowns do. Now that companies have seen how they can help, they'll keep integrating these systems into their processes. If nothing else, it's become evident how AI can serve as an effective contingency plan.