The AI opportunity in enterprise operations, by guest Dr. Evangelos Simoudis
A day doesn’t go by without seeing multiple articles about artificial intelligence. Some are extremely optimistic about the benefits of AI in industries like manufacturing, and for everyday life with smart home or smart city applications. Several of these prognostications border on unrealistic.
Other articles are extremely pessimistic about what the future AI will bring particularly as it relates to employment. I find that such articles spread fear unnecessarily. As one can imagine, the truth about what is possible today with AI is somewhere in the middle.
I’ve been working in AI in various roles since 1982. Over the intervening years I’ve seen similar reactions about this field. I have always found that at the core of these expressions (positive or negative) is a lack of understanding about the state of the technologies that comprise AI. In this article, I describe what I consider the opportunity presented by AI.
Whether we like it or not, AI and other digital technologies, combined with new business models, are ushering a period of accelerating innovation and increasing job augmentation and automation.
There are three points I’d like you to take away:
AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. AI is not new. It has been around for over 50 years. AI itself comprises several different important sub-fields all of which contribute to the results we are starting to see today in the intelligent systems being deployed.
AI is only one of the relevant digital technologies. 3D printing, Blockchain, cloud and mobile computing, and others are also very important in this process.
Innovation comes from the proper blending of technology with business model innovation. Job augmentation is a more important and realistic benefit of AI rather than job replacement.
Because of the amount of data we generate, and can capture, the recent excitement about AI stems from our ability to create systems that can automatically learn how to perform routine tasks autonomously. Today, we are seeing AI systems gaining momentum in tasks such as autonomous driving, performing various genomic analyses, and detecting suspicious complex financial transactions.
Based on the characteristics of the jobs being automated we can see both positive and negative consequences on various professions. Professions in computer-related fields, health care and others will remain in high demand and have little probability of being completely automated in the foreseeable future, because using today’s technology we will not be able to fully automate the tasks being performed by these professions.
In regard to augmenting tasks associated with enterprise operations, AI systems can surface, analyze and aggregate valuable information from across disparate data sources, helping support organizations intelligently deliver services to employees.
For example, AI systems can leverage big data to gather employee background information such as user name, title, location and authorized resources as well as assess the criticality of their requests and issues. With this information, support organizations can more effectively apply service delivery best practices and automate common tasks such as resetting passwords, enabling system access, answering benefits and/or payroll questions and escalating employees to the appropriate support channels when human agents are needed.
By appreciating the current state of AI technology, we are able to better plan the educational, vocational and cultural training that will be necessary.
There are reasons to be excited and others to be skeptical about AI. By understanding what is involved and how to create intelligent work-augmentation systems, such as Astound’s, we will be able to separate fact from fiction and employ AI without fear.
For more insights regarding the future of AI in the enterprise and to see Astound’s AI-driven automation platform in action, view our recorded podcast here.
Also be sure to check-out Dr. Simoudis’ book “The Big Data Opportunity in Our Driverless Future” and his blog www.corporateinnovation.co.
Dr. Evangelos Simoudis, the founder and Managing Director at Synapse Partners. Simoudis has spent over 30yrs in the Silicon Valley as a VC, entrepreneur, corporate executive and technologist. Today, he invests in early stage startups, like Astound, working on AI and big data applications. He also advises global corporations on innovation and big data strategies.