There are many examples of COVID-19 serving as an Accelerant. History and necessity tell us that automation is one of those examples. According to a Business Insider survey of 53 leaders featured in the Transforming Business series, AI and Cloud are at the top of the list of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021. It’s on the agenda of 47% of those surveyed. The connection to the pandemic can be seen in examples of where automation is applied. This recent Article describes a scenario where social distancing requirements are met through automation. Author Joe Mullich points to the kitchen of a burger joint, where a hard-working fry cook named “Flippy” is paving the way for greater use of artificial intelligence and cloud technology in the restaurant industry.
The robotic grilling assistant analyzes how many orders are in the queue and times the cooking of burgers and fries, so everything is ready when Uber Eats arrives to pick them up. The power of AI and Cloud converging is evident in its ability to crunch massive amounts of data that AI needs. Flippy is a manifestation of this convergence, with 3D and thermal scanners for eyes and a cloud-connected AI for a brain. Just how far AI has advanced can be seen in how Flippy identifies objects in front of it, and how it knows when to use a spatula to flip burgers versus tongs to grip the handle of the fryer basket. According to the article, Flippy can prepare 19 different foods, including chicken wings and onion rings.
Extreme events like the current pandemic will occur with more frequency. Our current crisis has put the need for resilience front and center – a need that should have been recognized earlier. As organizations reexamine business practices considering Covid-19, resilience in the face of future shocks must be a dominant consideration. Recognizing this, White Castle, the country’s first fast-food restaurant chain, launched a pilot with Flippy. Transformers will indeed prioritize investments in AI and Cloud, driven I hope by the realization that resilience and adaptability depend on it.