Famed stock picker Peter Lynch offered investors this wisdom: Buy what you know, research what you plan to buy, and adopt a long-term mindset. That's great advice. When you buy a stock, you buy a portion of the underlying business. It doesn't make sense to buy a business you don't understand -- that's basically gambling.

In my experience, one of the easiest ways to learn about a business is to research how its products are used in real-world scenarios. For instance, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Palantir (NYSE:PLTR) both provide some pretty complicated technology, but it's easier to grasp when you consider how these companies have aided the fight against COVID-19. Here's what investors should know.

NVIDIA: Supercomputing

NVIDIA provides graphics processing units (GPUs) and high-performance networking solutions designed to make data centers faster. The company also provides pre-trained AI models and frameworks across a range of industries, allowing developers and researchers to build intelligent applications.

NVIDIA headquarters building facade.

Image source: NVIDIA

For instance, NVIDIA Clara is designed for healthcare, using artificial intelligence to improve drug discovery, medical imaging, and genomic analysis, and to create smart hospitals.

Using NVIDIA Clara, a research team from the University of California at San Diego won a Gordon Bell Prize for their research on COVID-19. Specifically, they blended AI and high-performance computing to create the clearest picture to date of the coronavirus. NVIDIA GPUs made it possible to pack twice as much data into the image as any prior simulation in molecular dynamics. One researcher called the visualization "critical for vaccine design," for both COVID-19 and future pathogens.

Additionally, NVIDIA assisted the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in building AI models to improve tracking, testing, and treatment of COVID-19. Specifically, the models were trained on data from high-infection-rate locations, enabling them to accurately diagnose coronavirus cases from lung scans.

More recently, the Argonne National Laboratory announced that researchers would be using 24 NVIDIA DGX A100 systems -- supercomputers designed for artificial intelligence -- to accelerate the discovery of COVID-19 drug therapies.

Of course, these examples illustrate how NVIDIA can dramatically impact healthcare, supercharging research efforts and medical imaging. But on a higher level, they demonstrate NVIDIA's critical role in addressing computationally complex problems. That value extends beyond medicine into areas like smart retail, manufacturing, robotics and autonomous vehicles, and virtual reality and graphics -- as well as other scientific domains like space exploration.

Palantir: Data analytics

Palantir specializes in big data analytics. The company's software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms help clients manage, integrate, and draw insights from massive data sets. As a result, Palantir has played an important role in helping government and healthcare agencies combat the coronavirus.

Imagine trying to coordinate the delivery of medical supplies and personal protective equipment -- face masks, gloves, gowns, and hand sanitizer -- across thousands of healthcare institutions, each with rapidly changing levels of supply and demand. That's the type of problem Palantir's software was designed to solve.

Person viewing a map of interconnected data points.

Image source: Getty Images

Medical suppliers use the Palantir Foundry platform to monitor global supply chains, allowing them to identify potential shortages and work proactively to prevent problems. Similarly, public health agencies use Palantir to track the spread of the virus, assess the effectiveness of response strategies, and collaborate with hospitals and suppliers.

In the U.K., Palantir has helped the National Health Service (NHS) coordinate its vaccine effort. Facing a logistics nightmare, the NHS selected Foundry to simplify ordering, allocation, tracking, and delivery of over 29 million doses of COVID vaccine.

Palantir has also played an important role in the U.S. vaccine effort. Its platform has powered the integration of data from government agencies, drug manufacturers, and distributors, then referenced that data against demographic, employment, and public health information, allowing officials to allocate vaccine doses efficiently and effectively.

In fact, during Palantir's most recent earnings call, Global Head of Business Development Keven Kawasaki noted that the company helped the U.K. and U.S. run "two of the most successful vaccination programs in the world."

In general, these examples highlight Palantir's ability to improve healthcare by enabling data-driven decision-making. But that value proposition is applicable to virtually every industry, and it should help Palantir grow its business in the coming years.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.