Automation needs, digital transformation, and customer experience continue to support spending on AI, even in times when COVID-19 has impacted negatively on revenues for many companies.
"COVID-19 was a trigger for AI investments for some verticals, such as healthcare. Hospitals across Europe have deployed AI for a variety of use cases, from AI-based software tool for automated diagnosis of COVID-19 to machine learning-based hospital capacity planning systems," said Andrea Minonne, senior research analyst at IDC Customer Insights & Analysis. "On the other hand, other verticals such as retail, transport, and personal and consumer services had to contain their AI investments, especially when AI was used to package personalized customer experiences to be delivered in-store."
The COVID-19 pandemic will have effects throughout 2021 and the years to come. It has revolutionized the way many industries operate, changing their business processes but also the products, services, and experiences they deliver. Many non-essential retailers are still closed today due to strict lockdowns, meaning that retailers were forced to shift their focus from in-store AI toward AI-driven online experiences and services. Customers also had to adapt to a new reality, and that triggered their behavior to change. Shopping online is the new normal. For that reason, retailers are looking closely at use cases such as chatbots, pricing optimization, and digital product recommendations to guarantee customer engagement but also secure revenues from digital channels.
The same is the case for transportation, an industry that has been heavily affected by COVID-19. With travel being restricted to essential reasons only and quarantine measures widely in place, many travelers have stalled or cancelled their plans, which has a strong impact on transportation companies' revenues. In 2020, transportation's focus has shifted from AI-driven innovation to cost-containment, at least until the industry recovers. For that reason, AI investments across transportation companies will grow below average this year.