On 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. In response to the spread of the virus, at least half of the global population has been placed on lockdown to try and ‘flatten the curve’.
Unfortunately, the spread of the virus is not the only thing that will slow down, writes Kelly Preston, from the AI division at SilverBridge.
Research expects the global economy to experience an unprecedented contraction during the first half of the year. This may even extend further should the impact of the virus be worse than anticipated.
Companies have been forced to ensure those employees able to do so are properly equipped to work from home. These information workers must be enabled to service the customer base effectively.
This means having good, accessible IT systems in place with enough internet bandwidth and all communication channels properly operational. These employees need to be managed differently, customer engagements require a different approach, and business processes need to be digitised as far as possible.
This increasing online business model requires a new, more digital, mindset to continue to service customers, keep employees happy, and keep operational costs under control. With no employees allowed at the office, business bottlenecks must be removed, and remote productivity controls improved.
Of course, the expertise of employees can still be leveraged using digital assets. For example, key decision-making within business processes – the faster, more consistent, and more automated these decisions can be made the more effective an organisation can become in a remotely operated world.
At every organisation, there are stand-out employees with whom entire projects or solutions can be entrusted. These people are typically experienced, embrace company culture and values, and bring with them a raft of knowledge and expertise that is difficult to replace.
TOM (tacit object modeller) is a niche artificial intelligence (AI) technology designed to replicate this invaluable human expertise. Subject matter expert decisioning can be modelled in a series of steps which considers the tacit knowledge of the expert, along with existing business rules, and simulates their thinking during decision-making processes.
The result becomes a digital asset, which is essentially a cloned version of that expert decision, that can be deployed virtually within an organisation.
The modelling as well as the deployment process can be performed remotely from anywhere and at any time. Virtualised expert decisions can be tested against historic data sets for accuracy and tweaked quickly when discrepancies show.
This provides experts the flexibility to work from home in a secure environment whilst maintaining their input into key business processes albeit in a virtualised manner.
Productivity is improved, people stay safe, and these key individuals can focus on helping the company prepare for new business challenges, without a reduction in operational effectiveness.
A new world
Already, the outbreak of the coronavirus has changed many working behaviours. Following the crisis, companies could find themselves in a position where employees may not even want to return to the office, or a business may start promoting a remote working policy in a more widespread fashion.
If this does become the new normal then it would make sense to digitise as many assets as possible, including expert decisioning. With TOM, companies can take their digital expertise to work rather than their human experts.
The global benefits to a more digital workforce are enormous. This comes with no reduction in productivity, no drop in operational effectiveness, and improved people wellness. In such a digital-centric world, every organisation should give serious consideration to such an approach. Now is the time to reinvent traditional processes.