You may have read many articles about navigating the Covid-19 downturn. This begs the question, why I am writing now? I wanted to observe, and see what trends I could discern, to help formulate my views on ways out of this. Suggestions for tactical responses have been amply covered by others.
As the disease recedes, I think there is a realisation that, (i) it will be something we need to live with for a significant period of time, and, (ii) the recession that will follow will be more severe than anything experienced this century.
In parallel with this, it is unlikely that Governments are going to continue providing the current level of support ad infinitum. I anticipate a shift in emphasis, to supporting innovation and creating more market opportunity, rather than directly subsidising companies or individuals.
My business has two distinct operating styles. I speak at events and provide consultancy services to large organisations, usually through structured workshops delivered as a program over a few weeks or months. The other aspect is as an angel investor in AI companies. The former has declined to virtually zero. However, I see that all my AI interests are doing better; none have suffered a decline and they continue to develop and grow.
I think that there is a logical explanation. AI is being called the fourth industrial revolution. It enables a quantum leap in productivity and gives you the opportunity to do things completely differently. It facilitates greater personalisation of services and products, so they are more relevant and more valuable to customers.
You no longer need to be technical to use AI; there are tools available that require no coding which you can use on a subscription basis. For example, Amazon recently announced the launch of their Personalise solution. This is a subset of the tools they use to decide what products to try and sell to you and me. You can now use this to analyse your customer data.
I am not advocating that you give up your day job and jump into AI; what I do recommend is that you think about what you would really like to do, and investigate how AI could enable that vision or dream. I believe that we will see a rise in secondary businesses or side hustles as AI lends itself to these very well.
I recommend that you think about AI as a tool to augment your human capabilities, your emotional intelligence, critical thinking, abstract thinking and creativity. AI solves problems such as; streamlining routine, providing greater insight into markets, customers and problems and can aid creativity.
Following is a three-point framework to help you get started.
Firstly, do something you are passionate about, maybe you have a unique insight through lived experience, perhaps you have developed expertise in something or have a unique approach to a problem. Don’t be afraid to do something creative; AI is already being used to design T-shirts, augment music and art and even develop personalised food ideas.
Secondly, think how you will deliver your service and look at the end to end customer experience you will deliver; from inquiry through to being satisfied customers. Look at how AI can streamline this process for you or give you greater insight about your customers throughout their journey.
The third point is to collect and organise a range of data assets; these could include customer information, information about your product or service, information about the market you operate in. AI can process both structured and unstructured data, such as text, video, and pictures. Therefore, email correspondence and social media postings are all helpful. Ultimately this information will need to be labelled in some way but that is a secondary issue for now.
Most of all, have fun!
If you wish to discuss augmenting a business with AI please do get in touch.