Artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace has long been a sensitive topic. Many people see it as robots taking over their jobs, while some firms remain sceptical about the technology due to the costs.
While COVID-19 saw global lockdowns introduced and work patterns change amid a shift to remote work, firms closed as revenues dropped and wreaked havoc on the travel and hospitality industries.
In the face of adversity, it forced business leaders to make “smart investments” on the spot to prevent their businesses from collapsing, which saw them “roll-out digital technologies” to keep the workflow going, while keeping their customers satisfied.
However, as the coronavirus crisis saw many people lose their jobs, or put on furlough it has brought about a change in attitude towards AI in UK business leaders, according to a study by Fountech.ai, published exclusively by Yahoo Finance.
Of the 430 respondents, 55% of UK companies have started exploring how AI could improve their product or service. The figure is highest among small and medium-sized enterprises, at 61% and 66% respectively.
The research also found that, 45% of businesses would implement AI technologies in the next 12 months.
Founder of Fountech.ai, Nikolas Kairinos, said: “Businesses’ curiosity about the potential of AI has grown notably over recent years. This has no doubt been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic: survival has emerged as the number one reason to invest in emerging technologies.”
READ MORE: COVID-19 rules could see 290,000 UK job losses and cost the economy £7bn
Recently, a rise in coronavirus cases has prompted the government to advise Brits to work from home if they can, as was customary during the height of the pandemic in April, May and June.
In a move to expand its business into the logistics and delivery segment, ride-hailing startup Via today announced that it acquired Fleetonomy for an undisclosed sum. Via, which says it plans to apply Fleetonomy’s expertise in demand prediction and fleet utilization to support fully integrated, digitally powered logistics solutions, says the pandemic has highlighted the growing need for essential services and goods delivery.
Tel Aviv-based Fleetonomy, which was founded in 2017 by CEO Israel Duanis and CTO Lior Gerenstein, taps AI to analyze data and deliver insights with the goal of maximizing inventory and promoting proactive maintenance. The company provides white label ride-sharing and on-demand car subscription services that can accommodate semiautonomous and autonomous fleets. With Fleetonomy’s cloud-based suite of tools, managers can simulate services before deploying cars on the road, adjusting for factors such as fleet size, parking, charging locations, demand, and more.
“As we continue to build the next generation of public transportation and delivery infrastructure, we are proud to partner with Fleetonomy to step into this new phase of growth,” Via cofounders Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval said in a statement. “We have been consistently impressed by Israel, Lior, and the entire Fleetonomy team, and by the beautifully designed and exceptionally engineered products they have created. We share a vision for the future of mobility and look forward to realizing this vision together.”
Prior to the acquisition, Fleetonomy raised $3 million in a seed round led by Vertex Ventures, with participation from Kardan Ventures and VectoIQ.
“Today is a very exciting milestone for our company,” Duanis said. “When Lior and I founded Fleetonomy three years ago, we had a very big mission in mind — to provide a new way of managing fleet based services … In the past three years, with the incredible Fleetonomy team and