AI Ushers in a New Era of Business and Tech

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
artificial intelligence

Rapid, radical advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning in business are changing the stakes—and ushering in a new era of business and technology.

Make no mistake, AI has arrived and the benefits of deep learning are growing. IBM, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others are increasingly tapping it for a variety of tasks—from personalizing content to delivering better search results. Intelligent machines are on the rise, and computers can increasingly tap data, including through the internet of things (IoT), and make changes and adjustments.

Simply put: Computers are learning how to think and solve problems. As data grows, compute power increases, and open-source algorithms and APIs proliferate, a new era is about to unfold. And AI will impact every industry.

Identify AI Opportunities With the Greatest Value

To leverage AI and reap the benefits of deep learning, organizations must develop a strategy and a comprehensive plan, Capgemini's Beardmore says. Business and IT leaders must work across divisions, units and departments to identify opportunities that represent the greatest value.

It's important to explore AI tools and systems while developing a governance framework and even a partner ecosystem. It's not necessary to build and invent all solutions in house. "There are a lot of interesting products, solutions and vendors in the marketplace," Beardmore  points out. He suggests taking a flexible approach.

"There should be recognition that in the not-too-distant-future, there may be a need to change directions," he says. "The technology and the market are changing rapidly."

Although many AI-driven systems—including chatbots, virtual assistants and AR/VR—are still in the nascent to early stages, TCS' Ramaswamy says that it's a good idea to look for ways to enhance the customer, partner or employee experience using these systems. "There is an opportunity to apply AI and deep learning to fundamentally reimagine the way that things are being done today," he says.

The challenge, he adds, is "learning to do things in a fundamentally reimagined way, and rethinking the line between line of business and IT. This may require new business models, new products and new relationships—along with a different IT infrastructure than in the past." It may also require subject matter experts in specific domains, along with data scientists and business analysts.

Yet, in the end, it's important to recognize that AI in business and industry is not necessarily a ticket to improved performance and profits. It may require human input and manual tweaking, including feeding data sets into systems.

"There's still a fair amount of hype surrounding the technology and only limited understanding of what it can actually deliver," Capgemini's Beardmore says. "From a business and IT perspective, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of governance, data controls and IT security and privacy issues. Organizations must adopt a framework-based approach and approach AI tasks with a good deal of fluidity."

This article was originally published on 2017-01-26
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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