Impact of COVID-19 on Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, etc. technologies gained a lot of attention in the recent past. More so because of the potential to help businesses with their applications and beneficial use cases. Consequently, businesses globally from every industry started to pick up these technologies at a very fast rate. According to a report, the Data Analytics Market was expected to grow at a CAGR of 30.08% from 2020 to 2023, which would equate to $77.6 billion. But then, as we know, a gigantic disruption named COVID-19 pandemic toppled the functioning of the whole world upside down. Like every other thing affected by COVID-19, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence technology have also taken a strong hit due to the pandemic. This article essentially talks about the impact of COVID-19 on Data Science and the Artificial Intelligence field.

Concept Drift –

The entire structure of any problem solved using Data Science or Artificial Intelligence essentially depends on the kind of data being fed to the models. A Data Scientist carefully calibers the data and applies it to train Machine Learning models and perform Analytics. But “Nothing Lasts Forever”. The real-time data collected is dynamic in nature. That is to say that the data changes owing to consumer preferences, technological innovations, catastrophic events, etc. This change in the data patterns is what is meant by Concept Drift.

Any Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer would have encountered the trouble of Concept drift already. The predictive capabilities of our models degrade due to Concept Drift and thus demand amendments. The COVID-19 impact brings in a consequent massive change in human behavior and economic activities resulting from social distancing, self-isolation, lockdown, and other responses to the pandemic. In other words, we need to show agility in working on the new set of collected data to accommodate changes. Additionally, re-train our models and improve the predictive capabilities from what were the initial building logics for the models.

For example, consider the Banking industry. The aftereffect of this pandemic is bound to impact customer behavior and the patterns of loan default or EMI payments. This situation will demand a fresh understanding of new customer data assembled and in creating updated Machine Learning models.

Therefore, adapting to the effect of COVID-19 inflicted Concept Drift is the need of the hour. It is also essential for survival and any delay in taking necessary actions might be troublesome for businesses.

New Problem Scenarios –

In the pre-pandemic world, we were focussing on solving a particular set of problems incorporating Data Science, Automation, etc. Things have changed now. Various parts of the world have embraced different periods of Lockdowns already. Social Distancing is the new norm. Supply chain, Tours and travel, Education, and many other industries have taken lethal blows. Human behaviors have been unexpected. Remember, there was a spike in demand for toilet papers in several countries early this year. We sure are adapting to the change and the “New Normal” lifestyle.

What does this mean for the existing and aspiring Data Scientists? This means that we need to look at the problem scenarios in a completely new manner. Ask different questions and identify fresh approaches to solve them while incorporating a new set of data. Additionally, there are many new problems that have popped out post-pandemic. Some examples include traffic predictions (especially near suddenly closed borders), shopping behavior under more or less stringent lockdowns, healthcare-related supply chains, contactless nursing in COVID quarantine centers using robots, and many more. We sure have lots of interesting problems to work on and need to act now.

Increased Competition/Opportunity for Data Scientists-

The world would have seriously come to a stand-still if not for the Work From Home or Remote Working facility available today. Thanks to the Internet and other supporting technologies. The way the work-force globally adapted to this new style of working ensuring minimal impact on essential businesses, is simply stunning. Naturally, Work From Home has got the attention of all the employers. As a result, they are interested to explore the option of hiring employees from remote locations as well.

Increase in opportunities challenges

Now, this has got its pros and cons. On one hand, remote hiring would mean that employers can lookout for a large landscape to hire for a particular role. Hence the increased competition for the local aspirants in places like Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, etc. On the other hand, this can also mean increased opportunity for many Data Scientists, Machine Learning Engineers, Big Data Analysts in India. Recruiters around the globe are finding out ways to hire employees and provide them with remote working options. This definitely means better pay for our Data Scientists if they are hired by companies abroad. Awesome, isn’t it?

The rise in demand for Data Science –

Rise in “contactless” way of working is the best way out post-COVID-19. Interestingly, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning have the potential to bring about this much-desired change. Some jaw-dropping awesome applications one can likely find widespread post-COVID-19 are :

  • Contactless flying and driving using AI
  • Big Data Analytics on the increased home-delivery orders for merchandise and groceries
  • Drones for surveillance, crop monitoring, etc. and applying AI and Machine Learning on videos and images collected
  • Automation of documentation and Knowledge Management in Banking and Healthcare industry applying Computer Vision

demand for data science

Apparently, a surge in the already high demand of Data Scientists is most likely round the corner. This is the right time to take a leap of faith and up-skill yourselves in the field. So buckle up all the aspiring Data Scientists!!!.

In fact, according to a recent survey done by Analytics India Magazine, it has been noted that 92% of leadership believes that the demand for analytics would gain traction in the post-COVID world, which will bring out the necessity for organizations to hire new analytics talent.

Massive Opportunity for AI Startups to fight COVID

We cannot sit and wait for this COVID phase to pass and life to get back to the earlier way of normal living. The pandemic has no doubt brought a lot of challenges and hindrances in our way of working and living. But then a wise man said, “Challenges are opportunities in disguise“. This means that there is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to solve real-time COVID initiated problems in society using Data Science and AI. It is amazing to know that there are several start-ups blooming out of the pandemic situation. Some interesting start-ups and what they are working on are as follows.

RayVision

Having explored CCTV surveillance for some time, this Chennai-based startup has ventured into addressing Covid-19. It monitors areas such as detecting face masks violation, social distancing violation, PPE violation, hand sanitizer usage, and more.

Qure.ai

This deep tech startup from Mumbai uses deep learning technology to undergo X-ray screening to detect Covid-19 symptoms.

Invento Robotics

This Bengaluru-based startup is repurposing its robots to help doctors and healthcare workers with screening in case they are exposed to infected patients.

To find an extended list of start-ups, please visit this article.

Conclusion –

It is going to be exciting, the post COVID world. With a lot of new challenges and opportunities to tap, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence technologies can work wonders. Do share your thoughts on the other impacts COVID poses on these technologies.

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