Start with Artificial Intelligence right now!

by Sharad Gandhi and Christian Ehl

The next technology to create the biggest and widest impact on all aspects of our lifestyle, all industries, and our society has arrived. It is Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its newly acquired magic of Machine Learning. AI is the next big thing!

Last time a similar situation occurred in mid-nineties. The Internet had made its first appearance in the mainstream. Most people were wondering what it was about, what are some real applications of the Internet, and who will benefit. The following 20 years has shown beyond any doubt that the Internet has created the fastest and the most revolutionary change in the history of human beings. Digital transformation of our society started with personal computers and software in the 80s. Worldwide connectivity via the Internet transformed it into useful value for the masses. We have all benefited with amazing apps of Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps/Earth, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Amazon, Instagram etc. making our lives a lot easier, interactive and better informed. Most businesses are transformed leveraging a variety of on-line services.

We live in Digitalization Age

Digital technologies are transforming our world at an ever-increasing speed. Personal Computers, Servers, Internet, Smartphones, Tablets, and Social Media have established the foundation of the current digital world around us. New digital technologies like Cloud, Big Data, Block-chain, Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Robotics, 3D Printing, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are featured not just in technical journals, but are increasingly highlighted on daily news and popular TV programs because of their enormous potential to impact all industries, businesses, lifestyles and the very fabric of our society. Startups working with these technologies are the biggest attractors of venture funding. Many businesses are furiously developing new business models leveraging these technologies. Self-driving cars — like Tesla, Diagnosis Assistant for Doctors — like IBM Watson, Chatbots — like Siri and Alexa are just a few examples.

Artificial Intelligence — the ultimate benefit of Digitalization

We know that you are racing to understand and leverage all the technologies that drive digital transformation. But could you become an expert in technologies like cloud, apps, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), social insights, machine learning, predictive analytics, security, Internet-of-Things, blockchain, drones, data-visualization and similar things soon enough? Good news is that you need not worry about everything. You just need to focus on one: Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s quite simple. Other digital technologies essentially feed into AI. They supply the data via sensors or social media, connectivity, security, data storage, communication, analytics etc. to enable AI. Artificial Intelligence is at the top of the digital technology stack extracting meaning from all available data and intelligently prescribing the best action that every situation requires. This is how an experienced doctor takes into account all the clinical and personal input from the patient, and after applying his vast experience from the past comes to a conclusion on the best therapy or treatment for the patient in the current situation.

For example, consider self-driving cars like Tesla. These are electric cars full of advanced sensors that capture all possible data about the car and the environment in real time: speed, direction, conditions of the brakes, tires, distance from others etc. The sensors (as a part of IoT network) produce terabytes of data all the time. In addition, external information on road conditions, weather, construction sites, traffic situation, and critical information from other cars is constantly acquired via Big Data in the Cloud. All this information is processed and analyzed in real time by AI algorithms that have been constantly tuned and sharpened using machine-learning processes. The AI machine in the car determines at every moment what needs to be done next — to speed-up, brake, turn etc. AI technology has progressed so well that the self-driving cars can perform well and safely even in the chaotic environment of our busy roads. Machine Learning allows AI algorithms to improve over time, to react better to new situations, to translate the learning into better behavior, making it safer, efficient and more capable all the time.

Artificial Intelligence will transform all businesses

All aspects of every business can benefit enormously by exploiting the advantages of AI. A doctor can make better diagnosis and treatment plan by augmenting his insight with that from his “Medical AI” agent. A lawyer can benefit from an “Law AI” agent’s research on thousands of similar cases by developing a much better strategy for his client — and much faster. An insurance company can evaluate the validity of a claim cheaper and much faster with “Insurance AI” agent analyzing the claim with an experience of having checked out all the necessary background information. A salesman can be a lot more effective making a proposal with the right price and conditions after having his “Sales AI” agent check out the history of the customer, competitors and market situations. Your investment decisions in the stock market will be a lot more predictable after your “Financial AI” agent having done all the groundwork.

We believe that AI will not arrive as separate Apps, but AI will get integrated into all apps and processes, automatically sharpening the intelligence, predictability, reliability, usability and personalization of these Apps. An AI enhanced Google map of the future will most likely guide you to your destination with a lot more background information about you, your car, your habits, your preferences, road conditions, weather than today. It will make you feel that it understands you, your situation, and the environment perfectly.

Just assume: “Perfect AI” is already here

We believe that businesses should start focusing right now on how their products and business can benefit from AI. The best way to start is to develop a business value proposition assuming you have “Perfect AI” available to assist in every aspect of the product, service, manufacturing, marketing and sales. So, what is Perfect AI? Just assume that Perfect AI is able to quickly provide you with the most accurate and dependable predictions and decisions for every given situation that you or your system encounters. At the moment do not bother about how it happens. Just assume that it will be there when you really need it. Start developing a business model to deliver this “Perfect AI” powered value proposition. All needed technologies to implement this business model can be worked out and will fall in place once you are clear about what value you are delivering. And the good news is, that there are experts for all the other technologies, whom you can pull into your project and organization. But you must master and own the area of Artificial Intelligence and the way you deploy it for your business. Because this is where your company will create the unique value in the future. All the other technologies can be vendor-supplied — many of them are becoming commodities as a part of the Open system.

But why start now?

AI is inevitable. It’s progress and disruptive power is evidenced in a number of areas — like IBM Watson and Tesla cars. Use of AI for future competitiveness and survival is a must. For most traditional businesses developing and finalizing a robust business value proposition and a business model based on a new direction takes a long time. It often requires bold decision-making at top levels since a number of organizational changes and change management is needed to transform a company in order to deliver to a new business model based on new technologies. Companies that took advantage of the digital technologies — like Sony cameras — have thrived, and those which did not — like Kodak — have perished. Building AI focused products and services must start right NOW.

This article is written as part the AI&U™ (Artificial Intelligence & YOU) series by Sharad Gandhi and Christian Ehl. Watch for future articles on how to understand, learn, deploy and leverage AI for you and your organization. Our book AI&U will be published early 2017. We also offer customer workshops to help companies jump-start in transforming their business with AI.

Contact us at www.ai-u.org

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