How AI technology can help mitigate the impact of COVID-19
FeedStock would like to acknowledge that COVID-19 is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis and presents a very real risk on an interpersonal level. We extend our deepest thoughts and good wishes to all those who have been impacted by the pandemic and hope that the gradual decrease in reported cases in China soon becomes a global trend and leads to a swift and orderly conclusion.
This “short-read” looks at the impact of COVID-19 on enterprises and economies and explores how smart use of technology can, not only mitigate the risks of unexpected crises on an enterprise’s operational efficiency, but also enable dramatic improvement to operational efficiency and bottom line growth in the long-term.*
*This article reflects our perspective as of 23.03.2020 and may become outdated due to the rapidly evolving nature of the virus. We will endeavour to update it as and when required.
What we know about COVID-19 so far
Given the global media storm that has ensued since the outbreak of the virus in late 2019, it has been difficult to gain a clear understanding between the real and perceived risks of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
Some of the things we know:
- The SARS-CoV-2 virus is nearly twice as transmissible as seasonal or “normal” flu. The virus’s reproduction number (the number of additional cases that likely result from an initial case) is between 2.0 and 2.5, compared to a typical virus whose reproduction number is between 1.2 and 1.4.
- The virus is disproportionally more dangerous for the elderly. Study of fatality rates has found that death rates for patients older than 80 years of age are seven times higher than the average. Death rates for patients older than 70 are three to four times higher than the average.
Estimates based on World Health Organization’s figures:
- The global death toll is over 12,784 with an estimated global death rate of between 3-4%
- The global number of confirmed infected cases is over 292,142 (22.03.2020, 10am CET)
- Countries recording the most deaths in order from high to low are:
- Italy (4,827)
- China (3,204)
- Iran (1,556)
- Spain (1,326)
- France (562)
- United Kingdom (233)
- United States (201)
- The number of recovered cases is estimated to be over 99,041
Impact of Coronavirus on global economies
Global economies have experienced an almost universal downturn since the outbreak of the virus, with the FTSE 100 trading down 28% since the first fatality of the virus was recorded in China in January 2020. On the 12 March, responding to news that the US was restricting travel from Europe, the UK stock market recorded its worst day of trading in 33 years with the FTSE falling over 10% in a single session. The Institute for International Finance is forecasting that global GDP could be as low as 1% this year, and that was before last week’s oil price crash sent the markets into another tailspin.
China, the country most severely hit by the virus, reported a record-low reading of 35.7% in its Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for February (down 14.3% from 50% in January). A contraction of that proportion will no doubt hurt countries across the Asia Pacific region who rely on China’s manufacturing activity to support their economies.
Global banks have unanimously dropped their 2020 growth figures with Rabobank stating last week that “a global recession is now all but certain”. Another bearish forecast was published by Nomura who revised their China Q1 GDP forecasts down to 0% year-on-year and said that the rest of the world could face similar downgrades if they did not have the “wherewithal to increase their health security controls.”
Mitigating the impact of COVID-19
It seems clear that the focus of enterprises in mitigating the consequences of COVID-19 should be in reducing the human health risks associated with the virus. Its highly contagious nature means that face-to-face meetings and frequent global travel dramatically increase the risk of an outbreak occurring within an enterprise. The pandemic has brought about an unexpected and urgent requirement to reform enterprise operating models to protect employee health.
However, the behaviours made necessary by the virus are only exaggerating an increased trend for remote working which has been seen across global enterprises in recent years. Since the inception of cloud technologies and increased availability of Virtual Private Network infrastructure over 5 years ago, we have seen a gradual reduction in the requirement for workers to be on-site. The modern, mobile workforce is increasingly finding it both more cost-effective and more productive to work from home or from satellite office locations. There is now a business imperative for flexible and remote working, and to have the systems in place that support a disparate workforce operating across multiple devices, channels and time zones.
Addressing the challenges of remote working
This increasingly complex, digital era has accelerated the requirement for enterprises to ensure that they have the foundations in place to capture activity data in a structured and automated way. From our experience working with some of the world’s largest financial institutions, we have found that leveraging artificial intelligence and deep learning methodologies can, not only, entirely remove the disruptive and error-prone practice of manually logging client interactions, but also, enable a 360-degree view into what is going on in your enterprise, in real-time. FeedStock uses next-generation data-capture technology to structure the unstructured data generated by an enterprise’s activities and provide a complete, impartial and accurate dataset upon which to base enterprise decisions. Our systems help mitigate the unexpected risks that arise in circumstances such as these and allow corporations to focus on the important matters at hand: the safety of their employees and the well-being and survival of their enterprise.