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Pandemic Accelerates Machine Learning

COVID-19 has had profound effects on the global economy. While some industries took a hard hit, others found new opportunities -- such as machine learning.
Information Week
August 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated existing technology and business trends while presenting new challenges for companies. People have become more familiar with statistics and data analysis, recognizing the importance of technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), in finding solutions. The question is no longer whether to use AI but how to best utilize it. Startups are finding opportunities in emerging market gaps, while legacy businesses now see innovation as critical for survival. The pace of change has been unprecedented, with online shopping in the US skyrocketing from 13% to 80% of total sales in just five months.

In this environment, three key takeaways highlight the rise of machine learning (ML):

1. Traditional businesses are turning to startups for agile, real-time, ML-powered solutions. Companies urgently seek to transition to e-commerce, optimize cloud infrastructure, and adapt their workforce to the work-from-home economy.

2. While AI startups assist traditional businesses in adapting, they themselves face challenges. The value of pre-COVID datasets for predictive analysis has diminished, requiring the rapid rebuilding of data models with fewer data points. Startups that offer solutions to address this challenge become valuable partners.

3. The need for swift decision-making in the current environment creates vulnerabilities. Large corporations tend to centralize data for better decision-making, but increased cooperation and openness also increase the potential impact of breaches and biases in analysis. Startups addressing these issues become sought-after by large corporations.

Interestingly, large corporations are actively seeking out startups in this time of upheaval, looking to onboard agility and adaptations. This shift can lead to critical partnerships, but all parties must be mindful of emerging risks and pitfalls in the changing landscape. In this new environment, those who adapt will thrive while hibernating and resisting change will prove detrimental.

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