According to McKinsey, the majority of executives at companies that have invested in AI solutions believe it has led to higher revenue, with 44 percent saying it also reduced costs. However, the survey, which was conducted before the onslaught of COVID-19, found that only 58 percent of organizations had incorporated AI into at least one process or product.

The reason behind this lack of adoption? According to the report, many failed to recognize the potential applications and value of AI. Instead, they viewed the technology as something they would roll out slowly rather than a near-term priority.

But that was then, and this is now. The pandemic has changed business operations in countless ways, and this disruption to “business as usual” has exposed critical gaps that existing resources, human capital, and processes simply could not scale to address. Enter AI and automation, which have seen adoption soar during the pandemic.

As companies begin planning for a post-pandemic environment, AI and automation will continue to play pivotal roles in future business operations.

Scaling to Meet Urgent Demands

The pandemic resulted in an unprecedented need for speed and scale in customer communications. For example, think about the airline industry, which suddenly found itself struggling with massive cancelations, rebookings, and travel restrictions. The grocery sector is another use case. As people flocked to online ordering, many sites experienced performance issues that resulted in an uptick in inbound queries.

Addressing these communications in a timely manner is simply not possible without automation, often in the form of AI-powered chatbots. As organizations navigate the post-pandemic recovery, these chatbots can help ensure faster customer service for routine queries at scale. In addition, because bots learn from patterns over time, they can often provide insights that help improve offerings and provide better training for human agents. For more on AI’s role in customer engagement, check out this previous APEX of Innovation blog.

Unifying Siloed Environments

Another way AI and automation are poised to deliver significant business value is by bridging organizational silos between business units. Most companies operate in extremely fragmented environments. This has only been exacerbated in some cases by technology, as many departments have their own platforms and processes that don’t communicate with other business units.

Enterprises already knew they needed to address this lack of integration, but the pandemic has shined a brighter spotlight on the issue. With tools like AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), companies can overcome organizational silos and create connections across the business.

Rebuilding as “Digital First”

Becoming “digital first” is no longer a long-term goal; rather, it’s essential for survival in the post-pandemic world. With AI and automation, companies can modernize their environments, improve existing processes and create new ways of working.

For more on these and other benefits, take a look at this CIO article.