Creating an AI solution in lockdown

James Longbottom
James Longbottom

With COVID-19 changing the way we work, communicate and live our lives, now and forever, many could move away from any plans of adding an artificial intelligence or robotic process automation system into their organisation. But is there any real barriers to prevent an efficiency generating, cost saving solution being a priority? Or should we be instead  focusing on such options because of COVID? 

Firstly let’s consider what has changed? Physical meet-ups are not happening and working from home is a commonality. This could drive efficiency in some way as video calling, if done properly becomes a faster and more direct way to discuss requirements. It may also drive conversations onto messaging and other communication streams such as slack or the like. In essence most software projects follow the routine of having lots of initial communication (to communicate requirements and specifications), followed by the main body of the development having limited communication (weekly reports or daily updates etc) as the work is underway. The last few steps of the project would typically include knowledge transfer, which would need some structured  video calls to take over the physical step by step meet-ups. As long as a consultant or team can plan to operate at the beginning and end of a project using video calls, would much be different??

Following on, is an AI solution more useful than ever?

Typically the aim of a AI solution is to do one of the following: create a cost saving, make a process more efficient, generate analysis of past data, provide predictions using past data, classify or visualise data. 

With the economy heading towards an inevitable deep recession, domestic production being forced low and unemployment on the rise, now is the time to push efficiency to ensure commercial success and or survival in these new times. Any one of the aims for AI become more relevant and required. 

An example, due to increased pressure on employment and reduced ability for staff and workers to operate, introducing a time saving system could allow staff to focus on less repetitive tasks (see Pro AI report on RPA back office) and focus more on more complex service operations. This would also lead to cost savings due to greater efficiency. 

Not only can such as system become a USP of a organisations persona, it can pave the way for long term evolution of process and output to become more competitive, taking advantage of the digital offerings available. Typically initial investments are reclaimed in less and less timeframes by those who are willing to evaluate their existing processes and systems and see if simple AI platforms can give an edge. 

To summarise, new systems can be developed on platforms such as the cloud that allow solutions to be designed, build and deployed all remotely; allowing companies to evolve towards greater efficiency in a time that such forward adaptions are needed more than ever. 

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