INDUSTRY EXPERT VIEW
Advances in digital technology has undoubtably been the biggest enabler in the increased pace and globalisation of modern business. Our lives have become busier and more complicated due to technology, and internet-based technology is being used to try and simplify and meet the demands of our busy lives. A full circle chicken and egg type problem.
Faster and higher capacity internet infrastructure in the form of gigabit fibre networks and advanced wireless technology are allowing many of us to file-share, video conference and collaborate from any device at almost any location. With the mass uptake of always connected smart devices such as phones, tablets and notebooks, fast internet connections in public spaces and cafés have become the norm. Soon it is expected that we will be depending on our devices ever more and using them in ever different ways to conduct business. Having staff be able to have access to and efficiently use a capable smart device to conduct business has become essential in 2020 as COVID-19 sees travel bans, lockdowns and social distancing rules enforced. This is forcing many industries to re-invent the way they work and rapidly adopt new technologies, sometimes overnight.
The way we pay for our products and services has also changed in recent times. Banks are beginning to enable and support more direct e-commerce payment methods for global customers, with cumbersome international bank transfers becoming less common. These are some of the factors that are allowing the business of today reach a larger customer base over an ever-expanding global market. Once again, many businesses are having to rapidly adapt and improve their online payment methods due to an increase in online shopping and reliance on e-commerce due to Covid19.
Artificial intelligence is a relatively new talking point. However, organisations around the world are already seeing benefits from implementing it in various forms. One of the most accessible and common examples we are now commonly seeing is in customer facing service roles. Some of these customer serving platforms are using various forms of computer-based question-answer systems as well as AI systems. Airline and hospitality booking websites have been some of the earliest adopters of AI. Chatbots are now very common in web-based customer service and can communicate and deliver information that is customised to a person’s questions and needs.
At the back end, AI is used to super-charge data-based operation and activities such as, but not limited to marketing related activities. Data collection and analysis, CRM activities, business to business information sharing are seeing machine learning and artificial intelligence play a stronger role across a variety of industries and applications. A perfect example of how AI is being used today is in the public health sector. Many governments and institutes are turning to AI in the modelling and mapping the Covid19 spread. On the hunt for a cure, Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) has developed an AI system that uses natural language processing to intelligently scan huge data sets of research papers in the quest to inform and aid in the development of a vaccination. (https://allenai.org/)
COVID19 and technology adoption
This year, we have seen many businesses around the world forced to transition to digital operating environments. Governments around the world have forced shutdowns of office and common workspaces and companies are having to move to work at home and virtual workplace models in order to survive. Organisations that weren’t using video based online conference systems or internet-based collaboration environments before are now swiftly setting up these systems to remain operational.
The upcoming year will be an extremely challenging and important period for many businesses across many industries. For many, survival and riding out the immediate Covid19 threat form both a business and public health perspective will require a reliance on internet-based business technologies and a complete re-think of how we operate in our digital modern world.