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How Can AI Help in Shaping the Workforce in the Post-Pandemic World
October 7, 2020 News


There has been a significant shift in many industries today as they adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic – whether overhauling their operations altogether or modifying their systems by utilising various technologies. In this journey, AI is one of the most important technologies in helping businesses to shape their workforce.

This was one of the topics highlighted at ConnecTechAsia 2020, where in one panel discussion session, experts discussed the key role AI is playing in sustaining businesses during and after the pandemic and its potential impact at workplace.

Bob Gill, General Manager, Southeast Asia, ARC Advisory Group, first described how AI is being utilised to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. For example, AI can be used to conduct image scanning to detect if a person is wearing a mask, scan a person’s temperature and monitor if social distancing is observed. “We’re seeing very quickly AI solutions come to the market. We have the economics to where the sensors and the computer using resources are relatively cheap and we are going to use them to monitor and make the world safer and more secure”, added Bob.

Because of this adoption of AI in the markets, companies and its workforce are also subjected to a new digital landscape, which means introducing new skills for emerging technologies. Dr Michael Fung, Deputy CEO, SkillsFuture, shared how industries have been working on various initiatives to help companies and individuals deal with disruptions arising from technology.

“We all know that with Industry 4.0, many industries and jobs are being affected. What we have seen during the pandemic is really an acceleration of the need to transform for businesses and consequently, the need for individuals workers to be able to pick up new skills to deal with changing business models and the opportunities brought about by digitalisation and by AI”, explained Michael.

According to him, ICT and the relevant technologies will be a major opportunity for jobs and skills to grow in the years to come. It is now imperative for organisations to apply such technologies including AI in order to adapt. However, should companies worry about implementing such technology?

To answer this question, King Wang Poon, Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, said that there has been an increase in the investment of AI among organisations but some are having second thoughts. “I’m now quite certain that they need to do this (deploy AI). They need to apply it whether it is to accelerate some of their plans, solve certain problems that they’ve identified or maybe because certain things have been disrupted so there is a need to use artificial intelligence”, added King.

The session ended with Marty Sprinzen, CEO, Co-founder, Vantiq, sharing some of the hard lessons learned from the pandemic. “The lesson is that when mankind is challenged, we find solutions. The amount of digital transformation that has occurred in just the last few months is probably equal to the last few years and this is not going to slow down. The world has learned how to be agile fast and how to develop systems quicker than ever and this is a trend that is not going to stop”, he said.

Disruptions come in unexpected scale and speed, and we will see this at an increasing frequency in today’s era of digital transformation. Marty believes that we should always be ready to adapt to changes and disruptive technologies like AI and “the only way that we can prepare ourselves as companies and as individuals is to be adaptable. That requires us to embrace the mindset of being willing to transform our businesses. Only then can we be truly resilient to the different disruptions and changes that are going to come our way”.