Artificial Intelligence is proliferating at an uncontrollable pace and businesses can no longer ignore the impact it is having

Net 2017,  2017-09-20

Discussions around Artificial Intelligence (AI) have proliferated and will continue to over the next year. Businesses are beginning to see its value in a wide range of sectors, while a different report is released every day that instils a fear that AI will replace workers’ jobs. Simply put there is no hiding the explosion of AI and its applications; in the UK, Durham police have begun trialling a system that will classify suspects as low, medium or high risk and help officers review their sentence.

AI, Reger

As AI, automation and machine learning push the boundaries in almost every single industry, businesses will have to embrace the technology and understand that it is a force for good. This article will explore the perception around AI, the practical uses of the technology and the overall objective that businesses should be preparing for.

AI will completely revolutionise businesses, but is crucially a force for good

While it’s true that AI will change how businesses operate, business leaders should consider it with optimism and positivity. PwC conducted a study and found that AI would help global GDP gain a huge $15.7 trillion, a 14% rise from 2016 to 2030. The detailed analysis found that the business impact of AI was so vast that productivity would improve dramatically. 2030 might seem like a long time away but in the business world preparation is key to everything.

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more integral to daily work processes, the benefits will become much clearer. Automating simple tasks frees up the workforce to focus on more intricate and exciting aspects of their role. Take for example, innovative law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. The UK based company developed an entirely different business model that relies on an AI system to work on certain property disputes. The system extracts the raw data and checks the basic details needed to serve legal notices to the corresponding property. The cost savings are clear, but the sheer difference in time is quite substantial – a task that would usually take workers weeks now can be done in minutes! And this using a simple process automation approach to AI; future systems will do much more comprehensive tasks.

As businesses of all kinds look to invest in AI, the field itself will rapidly evolve, making it almost impossible to keep up with ongoing developments. Leaders should instead focus on their business and look to analyse how artificial intelligence could benefit their organisation.

What AI can do right now – and advances are coming all the time

The application of AI is quite broad and its technology is positively developing, possibly quicker than businesses would have predicted. From the sorting of information, to automated machines in the manufacturing process, the capabilities are clearly broad enough that businesses are wasting no time to invest.

Our own recent AI engine, Zinrai, has been used by Japanese company Kawasaki Geological Engineering to accurately detect and prevent underground sinkholes before they manifest. The technology uses deep learning technology to analyse and process the volume of radar images collected with underground radar probe equipment. Businesses and governments could benefit from increased operating efficiency, spot cavities in the road before they manifest and be able to ultimately prevent sinkholes. Another fantastic example is a conversational tool that can be used to analyse the sentiment of customer calls, therefore enabling the host to tailor each conversation to the customer.

What’s clear is that AI is developing at a significant rate. However, we remain at a relatively early stage and businesses must recognise that the true potential won’t be achieved without advancement in the underlying technology. For example, improvement in imagification (the process of converting business data into images) will be vital in turning data into digestible problems that machine learning can process. A rapid acceleration of the computational power available, to support the training phase of machine learning, remains a priority as well.

Why businesses should be planning for AI right now

The future is coming quickly and business cannot afford to ignore artificial intelligence; it’s as simple as that. Technology will continue to disrupt businesses and AI will similarly impact every single industry. What’s crucial is how prepared businesses are for artificial intelligence, and that means giving it consideration now. It is imperative that businesses become ‘digitally mature’ immediately, because only with digital, well curated business data can the promise of AI be realised.

The implementation of smarter, AI supported business processes is an enabler for the business, and will free up workers to focus on more complex and intelligent tasks. Highly qualified staff are the backbone of any business and these people should spend as little time as possible on repetitive, time-consuming tasks. AI systems can complete (or mostly complete) these tasks more efficiently and even more accurately. It’s all about identifying where people can create the most value, then supporting other tasks or parts within machine learning systems. Ultimately, the AI needs to become a member of the team, allowing their human colleagues to focus on specialist activities.

The economic benefits are clear; AI could not only offer huge efficiency savings, but unlock never before seen business capabilities. Improving the quality of working lives and job satisfaction won’t only increase the business’s operations, but allow them to focus on innovation by automating routine processes.

What’s clear is that to thrive, businesses need to prepare their organisations for artificial intelligence now. Upskilling the workforce, providing the monetary investment and working with technology experts will be the only route to success. The latter will be of vital importance as technology becomes trickier and more complex, and understanding how, where and why to apply AI solutions will become even more imperative for each business. AI is not a solution that can be delivered ‘shrink wrapped’. It requires specialist skills in both AI and in the business.

The role of AI is far too significant too ignore now

AI & Automation is too frequently perceived as bad for business processes, when the focus should largely be on highly repetitive, time-consuming jobs. Releasing workers from boring tasks actually enables them to focus on more important aspects of their job. There is no denying that automation is quickly approaching, and with the right preparation staff will be freer to focus on more complex problems in the business.

Businesses will have to adapt and embrace digitally driven ideas that prepare them for the future which will be technology driven. But we need a societal debate about the consequences of a large scale AI deployment and must agree on a set of rules and frameworks that we, as a society, apply to AI. In particular education on all levels, re-skilling the existing work force and developing an agreed plan to make sure that productivity can be transformed into a higher net value, not just for single businesses but society as whole, will be crucial.

AI is growing at a rapid pace and the benefits are clear; after all a failure to prepare will only lead to failure itself.

RegerBy Dr Joseph Reger, CTO, Fujitsu EMEIA

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info@fi.fujitsu.com

Published in the Net Magazine 2017,  2017-09-20

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