Using Augmented Intelligence To Drive Recovery and Growth Through COVID and Beyond

This article was written by Poornima Ramaswamy and originally appeared on the Qlik Blog here:


There seems to be universal acceptance that effective use of data can help maximize bottom line value. However, many businesses still aren’t successfully leveraging data to its full extent due to people, processes and technology roadblocks. Thankfully, there is a unifying approach to unlocking the immense opportunity for enterprises to more effectively leverage data to create new products, services and business models. That approach is augmented intelligence – the enablement of employees through a combination of AI, machine learning and analytics.

Enterprises know they need to digitally transform, and the pressure has only grown due to COVID-19. Leading up to the current crisis, KPMG found that 80% of revenue growth will be dependent on new digital offerings as soon as 2022. Where exactly each enterprise finds new offerings will differ, but I believe augmented intelligence can have a significant role in both identifying new offerings and impactful process improvements across the enterprise, now and post COVID.

Why Augmented Intelligence?

Taking an augmented intelligence approach makes more data usable by reducing friction between the employee and useful data. This is crucial in a market reshaped by COVID-19, where making timely decisions on accurate data can have a significant bottom line impact against stiff competition and a shrinking customer pool. Augmented intelligence uses AI and machine learning to manage the massive and growing data volumes to get to insights faster. This is essential to enabling data-driven decision making across an organization, since humans cannot manually sift through and establish links and connections between today’s large data sets. Deploying augmented intelligence has significant benefits:

  • Helps find and blend more crucial data from disparate systems for real-time analysis
  • Can automate manual reporting, financial and regulatory compliance processes to give employees more time to analyze relevant data for decision making
  • Drives more value from cloud investments. By executing initial augmented intelligence powered analytics in the cloud, employees can limit localized analysis that keeps costs down.
  • Through augmented intelligence powered analytics, employees can more quickly execute sophisticated customer base satisfaction and opportunity analysis, risk profile analysis (market conditions versus competitors), and search data to more easily identify new product/services.

The Importance of the Augmented Intelligence Assessment

Moving toward a scalable augmented intelligence approach starts with an examination of the data and analytics capabilities of the organization, which includes technology, processes and people. Only with a realistic understanding of the organization’s capabilities can leaders make strategic investments to close gaps that can limit data’s value at scale. For example:

  • If staff is uncomfortable with data, data literacy training will be important. Otherwise, they will likely avoid using augmented intelligence driven technology out of fear.
  • If employees lack access to real-time data applicable to their function and role, augmenting their intelligence through technology will have limited use and likely cause them to revert to instinctual processes vs. data-driven decision making.

Augmented Intelligence for Every Industry

When executed well, deploying an augmented intelligence approach can have tremendous impact across the organization regardless of industry.

One of the main industries where COVID-19 has driven significant increase in data usage to augment decision making is healthcare. Qlik has been working with a number of NHS sites throughout the UK, including Cheshire and Morcambe Bay, to replace manual processes with analytics applications that augment their ability to make timely decisions. The decisions include the entire range of care needs, including forecasting and allocating personal protective equipment, triaging and predicting capacity based on caseloads and virus spread statistics, and staffing needs. To date, over 200 organizations, including 70 NHS Trusts, are now benefiting from the roll out of a new free data-driven AI analytics application that is expected to transform the way data is used in healthcare throughout the country.

COVID-19 has also stress tested supply chains across every industry, as demand curves changed overnight, and organizations needed to augment operations with new data to both react and plan. Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization active in all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 countries, needed to scale and target its medical supply chain distribution like never before in over seven decades of operations. The organization needed to connect its operational views with epidemiological data to track case outbreaks, risk factors and the ever-changing impact on medical infrastructure. Through a new Qlik application, Direct Relief can now in real-time track the changing dynamics of the outbreak to pinpoint personal protective equipment delivery for the greatest impact.

City Plumbing in the UK is another example of where an augmented intelligence approach helped the company better manage a COVID-shaped market. By centralizing data through Qlik, City Plumbing had already democratized data for its entire organization. The company recently augmented their understanding of their entire customer base by incorporating new data related to market conditions shaped by the crisis. By blending existing customer data with competitive intelligence and geoanalytics, teams have been able to pinpoint sales opportunities with personalized offers to continue to drive sales during a difficult market. City Plumbing has also been leveraging data models from economic indices and past downturns in order better understand how the business can be strategically positioned for growth when the crisis subsides.

The Case for Augmented Intelligence

Every enterprise is collecting more and more data, volumes that outstrip human comprehension. Through augmented intelligence, organizations can automate the front-end analysis and allow employees to apply their unique knowledge of customers and markets to become much more strategic by asking questions like:

  • What data do we have available today, and where is the data we could be collecting?
  • What are the adjacent industries and marketplaces we could enter if we developed insights and intelligence of real value?
  • How can augmented insights enable us to create a competitive advantage through the unique development of new products, services and business models?

With an ever-evolving competitive landscape and the variables COVID-19 has introduced, enterprises deploying augmented intelligence will be quicker to insights, more efficient, faster to market with larger revenue generating opportunities, and more able to leverage data to navigate changing conditions today and into the future.