How this Aussie AI platform is helping the world get back to work


In February, as COVID-19 hit the world economy, Faethm asked its data scientists: What can we do to help our clients get back to work?

Faethm is a Sydney-based artificial intelligence platform. Their mission: to create social and economic benefit from the impact of emerging tech on the workforce. This scale-up is uniquely placed to get businesses back to a new normal.

Free reign to find a solution

Michael Priddis, Faethm chief executive, gave Faethm’s data scientists free reign to find a solution.

Their data scientists came back with a fifth AI for their platform — a neural network that assigns a level of risk to every job based on:

  1. How much continuity can be achieved, given the tasks involved
  2. The degree of interactivity with other humans

Once role-risk has been evaluated by Faethm’s Business Resilience Module, the next step is to provide coping strategies to help #StopTheSpread while minimising productivity loss. 

This can be achieved through assigning technology that allows people to perform their role effectively from home. Or, alternatively, implementing physical precautions where working remotely isn’t an option. 

Find out more about the Austrade Landing Pad program.

Tips for building workforce resilience

One area of particular interest for the future-focused Faethm team is what the return to work looks like.

“A couple of trends have emerged,” says Greg Miller, Priddis’ co-founder.

“What we’re seeing across the market is this pandemic is fuelling re-skilling programs. Companies, unable to hire, are really digging deep to repurpose people internally.

“We’re also seeing a change in automation strategies, which previously may have been focused more on simply back-office or finance.

“Now, we’re looking at how to ‘de-risk’ our workforce so we’re not in the same position, with the same difficulties, if there’s another pandemic.”

For organisations seeking to build workforce resilience in the here and now, Miller offers these tips:

1. Arm yourself with data

“The number of clients we meet who sent everyone home the minute this happened only to realise that half of them didn’t have laptops!” says Miller.

“Whenever you make big strategic moves, first arm yourself with the right data so you’re making strategic decisions.”

2. Rethink, repurpose, rescale

Many traditional HR processes are set up for simple and straightforward redundancies and re-hires, Miller explains. But taking a cashier from a retail environment and re-skilling and redeploying them internally? Not so simple. 

“I think one thing we’ve learned in this phase of the pandemic is that re-skilling requires us to rethink some of our HR processes.

“That’s not easy for some,” Miller says.

These more difficult repurpose and re-skilling demands call for a new way of thinking.

“A massive leg up” in the US market

It’s been a “pretty wild” ride for the small, 30-odd Faethm crew since February. Additional filters and features are still rolling out, and new clients are jumping at their data-driven solutions.

“We had our first 10 clients go live mid-to-late March, and we’ve got a couple state governments now using the new data,” Miller says.

“Since that time, we’ve supported over 20 clients with their COVID-19 planning including in global financial services, professional services and US health insurance — so some sizeable interest thus far, and it’s continuing to grow.”

As a small Aussie company, getting access to corporates and governments in a market as vast as the US was “not an easy task”, Miller adds.

But the 2019 Landing Pad program in San Francisco — and in particular the invitation to speak at the South by Southwest Conference — gave them “a massive leg up”.

“Core parts of the program were engaging us on what our business plan and strategy look like for the US. Assistance accessing Australian executives working for US corporations in key roles has been instrumental as well,” says Miller.

“It’s the entire mindset or mission of the group we’ve been dealing with through the Landing Pads program to help us be successful in the US, find clients and grow — and that’s an excellent starting point.”

Australian Landing Pads

The Landing Pads program provides market-ready Australian startups and scaleups the opportunity to land and expand into major global innovation and startup ecosystems, including San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore.

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