Towards a smarter tomorrow: Impact of AI in the post-COVID era

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent geopolitical and economic disruptions, markets across the world have seen rapid transformation of businesses due to the adoption of advanced analytics and data-driven decision making. Of these, regulated markets such as banking and healthcare have seen major disruptions. For instance, the banking industry has witnessed a significant shift towards providing services in remote locations through AI-driven solutions which determine credit risks using social scores. Another use case, which has been a rising trend in healthcare, is the emergence of voice user interfaces (VUIs). Voice-based AI is expected to bring in the next big transformation in healthcare and enhance the upstream value of the industry.

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Impact of AI in the post Covid-era

During the post-COVID era, the sector which has seen the maximum swing in the AI adoption is ‘Industrial products and manufacturing’.

industrial products and manufacturing

In comparison with the other sectors which have seen a marginal or significant increase in the adoption rate of AI, the retail and consumer sector has witnessed a marginal decrease of 6% in 2022–23 as compared to 2020. This was triggered by the gap in identification of the right use cases and measuring the RoI.

Source: Surveys conducted by PwC India in 2022-23

Furthermore, across all industries, trends across the different business functions within organizations show that AI adoption has increased the most in ‘Supply chain and logistics’.

supply chain and logistics

Source: Surveys conducted by PwC India in 2022-23

Within supply chain and logistics, organisations have found AI/ML to help address concerns about supplier risks, with 27% seeing the inability to secure raw materials from suppliers as a major risk. Further, 24% are concerned about operational issues among suppliers, and 21% are worried about suppliers’ financial health. A large number of respondents (58%) are seeing higher-than normal turnover among supply chain employees, and only 23% fully agree that they have the necessary digital skills to meet future goals. Companies have also reported a healthy payoff from investments in smart logistics and process insights, with an average payback period of 1.8 years for advanced supply chain capabilities.

Times are interesting today and the advent of Generative AI (GenAI) has enabled companies to increase the capability, speed and volume of content search and content creation. For example, a GenAI model can assist with the simultaneous creation of scripts, voiceover, translation and images for a successful ad campaign. GenAI may potentially help in areas of due diligence, regulatory compliance and contract analysis. GenAI may have potential applications in creation of complex 3D designs and prototypes, conversational analytics, hyper-personalised and interactive recommendation chatbots, etc.

Amongst the use cases, the most prominent and in-demand are: (a) Hyper-personalisation for customer experience through customer insights and predicting behavior and (b) Improving productivity in operations.

improving productivity in operations

Source: Surveys conducted by PwC India in 2022-23

In their journey towards adoption of AI, certain challenges have also been highlighted by survey respondents, especially from the ‘finance and tax’ domain.

Source: Surveys conducted by PwC India in 2022-23

Summary of challenges faced by organisations across industries

  1. Approximately one in every four organisations still fails to measure the RoI and therefore can’t make a strategic decision on investing in AI/ML solutions within their organisation.
  2. Approximately one in every three organisations in India today fails to find a proper use case within their organisational framework for applying AI/ML solutions.
  3. Recruiting and upskilling employees who can meet organisational goals is a critical issue, with 14% of organisations identifying this as a challenge.
  4. Nearly 15% of organisations find it difficult to scale up AI/ML solutions at an enterprise level.
  5. Nearly 95% of the Indian market believes that AI/ML can help to create more opportunities than threats for businesses and not utilising AI/ML solutions would mean losing opportunities to a competitor.

Using explainable AI, PwC assists firms in adopting AI in a responsible manner. Its responsible AI framework can help explain both overall decisions making, as well as individual choices and predictions made by AI systems. Furthermore, PwC’s ADAPT framework, together with its New Equation strategy, can help clients develop the right use cases in their respective industries.

Some of the key trends seen in the market today

  • Generative AI (GenAI): The developments in this space have enabled content search and summarisation, along with content generation. For example, GenAI can be potentially used to hyper-personalise online advertisements, enhance productivity by automating creation of standard documents, and search and summarise external research.
  • Remote work and collaboration: The pandemic forced many businesses to adopt remote work and collaboration solutions which often rely on AI-enabled technologies. For example, AI-powered chatbots are being used to answer customer questions, and AI-enabled video conferencing tools are being used to facilitate meetings and enable collaboration. 
  • Contactless solutions: The pandemic also increased the demand for contactless solutions, such as AI-enabled self-service kiosks and chatbots. These solutions can help businesses to reduce the risk of infection at physical outlets/offices, and thus improve customer experience.
  • Data-driven decision making: AI is used to collect and analyse large quantities of data, which can then be used to make better decisions about product development, marketing, customer service, etc.
  • Increasing availability of AI-enabled tools and services: The cost of AI-powered tools and services has been declining, making them more accessible to businesses of all sizes. This has also led to an increase in the number of AI start-ups, which are developing new and innovative solutions.

Authors: Sudipta Ghosh, Dr. Indranil Mitra, Arnab Chakraborty, Uttam Nayak, Ijaj Ahmed

Contacts

Sudipta Ghosh

Data and Analytics Leader, PwC India

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Dr. Indranil Mitra

Advanced Analytics Leader, PwC India

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