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Global Capability Centers( GCCs) are reflections of strategic components to parent organization’s business imperatives. GCCs are at an inflection point as the pace at which AI is changing every aspect is exponential and at high velocity. The rapid transformation and innovation of GCCs today is driven largely by ability for them to position AI strategic imperative for their parent organizations. AI is seen to the Trojan horse to catapult GCCs to the next level on innovation & transformation. In recent times; GCC story is in a changing era of value and transformative arbitrage.
Most of the GCCs are aiming towards deploying suite of AI led strategies to position themselves up as the model template of AI Center of Excellence. It is widely predicted that AI will disrupt and transform capability centers in the coming decades. How are Global Capability Centers in India looking at positioning themselves as model template for developing AI center of competence? How have the strategies of GCCs transformed with reference to parent organization? whilst delivering tangible business outcomes, innovation & transformation for parent organizations?
Strategic imperatives for GCC’s to consider to move incrementally in the value chain & develop and edge and start winning with AI:
AI transformation :
Artificial Intelligence has become the main focus areas for GCCs in India. The increasing digital penetration in GCCs across business verticals has made it imperative to focus on AI. Hence, GCCs are upping their innovation agenda by building bespoke AI capabilities , solutions & offerings. Accelerated AI adoption has transcended industry verticals, with organizations exploring different use cases and application areas. GCCs in India are strategically leveraging one of the following approaches to drive the AI penetration ahead –
- Federated Approach: Different teams within GCCs drive AI initiatives
- Centralized Approach: Focus is to build a central team with top talent and niche skills that would cater to the parent organization requirements
- Partner ecosystem : Paves a new channel for GCCs by partnering with research institutes , start-ups , accelerators
- Hybrid Approach: A mix of any two or more above mentioned approaches, and can be leveraged according to GCCs needs and constraints.
- Ecosystem creation : Startups /research institutes/Accelerators
One of the crucial ways that GCCs can boost their innovation agenda is by collaborating with start-ups, research institutes , accelerators. Hence, GCCs are employing a variety of strategies to build the ecosystem. These collaborations are a combination of build, buy, and partner models:
- Platform Evangelization: GCCs offer access to their AI platforms to start-ups
- License or Vendor Agreement: GCCs and start-ups enter into a license agreement to create solutions
- Co-innovate: Start-ups and GCCs collaborate to co-create new solutions & capabilities
- Acqui-hire: GCCs acquire start-ups for the talent & capability
- Research centers : GCCs collaborate with academic institutes for joint IP creation, open research , customized programs
- Joint Accelerator program : GCCs & Accelerators build joint program for customized startups cohort
To drive these ecosystem creation models, GCCs can leverage different approaches. Further, successful collaboration programs have a high degree of customization, with clearly defined objectives and talent allocation to drive tangible and impact driven business outcomes.
Differentiated AI Center of Capability :
GCCs are increasingly shifting to competency, capability creation models to reduce time-to-market. In this model, the AI Center of Competence teams are aligned to capability lines of businesses where AI center of competence are responsible for creating AI capabilities, roadmaps and new value offerings, in collaboration with parent organization’s business teams. This alignment and specific roles have clear visibility of the business user requirement. Further, capability creation combined with parent organization’s alignment helps in tangible value outcomes. In several cases, AI teams are building new range of innovation around AI based capabilities and solutions to showcase ensuing GCC as model template for innovation & transformation. GCCs need to conceptualize a bespoke strategy for building and sustaining AI Center of Competence and keep it up on the value chain with mature and measured transformation & innovation led matrices.
AI Talent Mapping Strategy:
With the evolution of analytics ,data sciences to AI, the lines between different skills are blurring. GCCs are witnessing a convergence of skills required across verticals. The strategic shift of GCCs towards AI center of capability model has led to the creation of AI, data engineering & design roles. To build skills in AI & data engineering, GCCs are adopting a hybrid approach. The skill development roadmap for AI is a combination of build and buy strategies. The decision to acquire talent from the ecosystem or internally build capabilities is a function of three parameters – Maturity of GCC s existing AI capabilities in the desired or adjacent areas ,Tactical nature of skill requirement & Availability and accessibility of talent in the ecosystem. There’s always a heavy Inclination towards building skills in-house within GCCs and a majority of GCCs have stressed upon that the bulk of the future deployment in AI areas will be through in-house skill-building and reskilling initiatives. However, talent mapping strategy for building AI capability is a measured approach else can result in being a Achilles heel for GCC and HR leaders.
GCCs in India are uniquely positioned to drive the next wave of growth with building high impact AI center of competence , there are slew of innovative & transformative models that they are working upon to up the ante and trigger new customer experience , products & services and unleash business transformation for the parent organizations. This will not only set the existing GCCs on the path to cutting-edge innovation but also pave the way for other global organizations contemplating global center setup in India.AI is becoming front runner to drive innovation & transformation for GCCs.
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In today’s fast paced & volatile VUCA world, leaders face unprecedented challenges. They need to navigate through volatility while staying focused on strategy, business performance and culture. Artificial Intelligence is fast becoming a game changing catalyst and a strategic differentiator and almost a panacea to solve large, complex and unresolved problems. To be an AI powered organization, leaders not only need to have a broad understanding of AI strategy, they need to know how and where to use it. AIQRATE advisory services and consulting offerings are designed to enable leaders and decision makers from Enterprises, GCCs, Cloud Providers, Technology players, Startups, SMBs, VC/PE firms, Public Institutions and Academic Institutions to become AI ready and reduce the risk associated with curating, deploying AI strategy and ensuing interventions and increase the predictability of a durable leader’s success.
In the age of the bionic enterprises, AI continues to dominate the technology & business landscape. Under the aegis of transformation, disruption and innovation, AI has several applications and impact areas which usher a new change in how we make decisions in the enterprise and personal spheres. Traditionally, human decisions are to a large extent based on intuition, gut and historical data. In the age of AI, several of our decisions will be taken by algorithms. Leveraging AI, the ability to mimic the human brain and the ensuing ability to sense, comprehend and act will significantly go up and will result in emergence of augmented intelligence in decision making. Enterprises, GCCs, SMBs, Startups and Government Institutions are attempting to harness the power of AI to change the way they do business. All these industry segments are looking at AI becoming the secret sauce behind making them gain a competitive advantage. If you have not started yet, you are already behind the competition, however large or pedigreed you might be.
So, where are you placed on your AI journey? At AIQRATE, we can guide you on your journey of understanding what AI can do for you, embedding it within your business strategy, functional areas and augmenting the decision-making process.
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We are at an inflection point where AI will revolutionize the way we do business. The paradigms of customer, products, offerings, services and competition will change dramatically; and being AI-ready will become a true differentiator. AIQRATE will be your strategic partner to help you to prepare for what’s next in order to stay relevant.
Wish you a great 2021!
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AI led Algorithms can decide on how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with an individual – Sameer with SCIKEY
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In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Sameer Dhanrajani, CEO at AIQRATE Advisory & Consulting, speaks about how the future of work will look like enabled by AI, and it’s contribution in building productive teams and the emerging AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID scenario.
“AI led algorithms can decide on how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with an individual,” Sameer Dhanranjani
Sameer is a globally recognized AI advisor, business builder, evangelist and thought leader known for his deep knowledge, strategic consulting approaches in AI space. Sameer has consulted with several Fortune 500 global enterprises, Indian corporations , GCCs, startups , SMBs, VC/PE firms, Academic Institutions in driving AI led strategic transformation and innovation strategies. Sameer is a renowned author, columnist, blogger and four times Tedx speaker. He is an author of bestselling book – AI and Analytics: accelerating business decisions.
In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Sameer Dhanranjani, CEO at AIQRATE advisory consulting, speaks about how the future of work will look like enabled by AI, and it’s contribution in building productive teams and the emerging AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID scenario.
Mr Dhanranjani, you have consulted with several Fortune 500 enterprises, GCCs also start-ups in driving AI-led strategic transformation strategies. What according to you, are the topmost strategic considerations to weigh for managing accelerating business in Post COVID world for a start-up?
The unprecedented times of COVID-19 have brought the aspect of decision making under consideration. This includes tactical, strategic, and operational decision making that is crucial to make the venture more sustainable. Today the use of artificial intelligence is quite high amongst organizations. It can be used by start-up ventures and other outfits to make decisions irrespective of the area that needs decision making.
Most decisions that need to be made strategically are being passed on to artificial intelligence-enabled interventions. The algorithm makes similar decisions based on the previous decisions taken. Algorithms can decide how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with the opposite individual This advancement in AI brings the challenge for organizations to create products and services specific to each customer through hyper-personalization and micro-segmenting. However, it can also be considered as an opportunity for organizations to emerge from the pandemic with newer business models and experiences for customers. Start-ups, especially, can make use of such advancements to reinvent and rejuvenate the organizational ecosystem.
You are known for your passion for Artificial Intelligence and are an author to the bestselling book – AI and Analytics: Accelerating Business Decisions. Tell us where how can AI be strategically significant while building productive teams.
My experience has led me to deal with engagements in the entire value chain of HR, ranging from hiring to engagement to incentivization that has leveraged using AI. It is phenomenal to see how AI can help build, engage, and sustain productive teams. AI can help in hiring through the detection emotions, facial expressions, tone modulations of the interviewee through computer vision and image classification techniques.
In the creation of productive teams, AI can gauge the engagement levels of an employee. It tries to look at the various interventions made by an employee regarding their attendance, participation in virtual meetings, and propensity to ask and engage themselves in conversations. It also keeps in check the number of pauses, intervals, and breaks taken by an employee. Every aspect of the employee is being marked to see how productive, inclusive, as an individual and in teams.
What are the top 5 AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID the scenario of the next one year?
When it comes to AI, the first trend emerging is that AI is not a tool or a technology, but it is now being touted as a strategic imperative for any organization. This means that AI strategies will become an intrinsic part and feature of every organisation.
The second trend is the democratization of AI. There is a possibility of the emergence of an AI marketplace where virtual exchanges related to business problems, demo runs etc. can be conducted. One would actually be able to figure out which algorithm is best for them in customer experience, supply chain etc.
The third trend being the cloud will act as a catalyst for AI proliferation. The propensity for cloud providers to enable AI companies with possible aspects of microservice API’s, Product Solutions will be created on the go. This means that the cloud enablers will have options to see various possibilities specific to their organisation when it comes to AI-specific use cases.
The fourth trend is linked to skilling. AI today is a part of a lot of course curriculums. But what is missing is the whole aspect of how does it get applied? The new courseware will be focused on how is AI implemented, adopted in the organization.
The last fifth trend is decision-making enabled by AI, which means humans will have no option but to upskill and reskill themselves to take a more rational, pragmatic and sanguine approach. So new models, new emerging realities of decision making will emerge.
How is AI powering the Future of Work, what are critical considerations for business and tech leaders considering the rapidly changing business dynamics due to COVID?
The future of work will be about AI and what we call AI plus a set of exponential technologies. This means that every aspect of our performance interaction and our responses will be gauged very manually through these technologies. This indicates that the level of performances in terms of how we go up-to-date needs to be worked upon. The future of work is an ecosystem where one particular employer cannot do it all.
This means that if learning must occur through an external player, it must come through the ecosystem of co-employees and the employer. In the future, we will not be caged as mere professionals doing our job but will be encouraged to push our boundaries to explore more at work. At the same time, transformation, innovation, and disruption will be a part of the future’s performance metrics. They will become a major parameter for the organization to create a mediocre versus proficient employee or a professional. This is where the onus will fall on the employees to ensure that they are not just doing what is being called out, but are going beyond to create what we call a value creation for the organisation.
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While some predict mass unemployment or all-out war between humans and artificial intelligence, others foresee a less bleak future. A future looks promising, in which humans and intelligent systems are inseparable, bound together in a continual exchange of information and goals, a “symbiotic autonomy.” If you may. It will be hard to distinguish human agency from automated assistance — but neither people nor software will be much use without the other.
Mutual Co-existence – A Symbiotic Autonomy
In the future, I believe that there will be a co-existence between humans and artificial intelligence systems that will be hopefully of service to humanity. These AI systems will involve software systems that handle the digital world, and also systems that move around in physical space, like drones, and robots, and autonomous cars, and also systems that process the physical space, like the Internet of Things.
I don’t think at AI will become an existential threat to humanity. Not that it’s impossible, but we would have to be very stupid to let that happen. Others have claimed that we would have to be very smart to prevent that from happening, but I don’t think it’s true.
If we are smart enough to build machine with super-human intelligence, chances are we will not be stupid enough to give them infinite power to destroy humanity. Also, there is a complete fallacy due to the fact that our only exposure to intelligence is through other humans. There are absolutely no reason that intelligent machines will even want to dominate the world and/or threaten humanity. The will to dominate is a very human one (and only for certain humans).
Even in humans, intelligence is not correlated with a desire for power. In fact, current events tell us that the thirst for power can be excessive (and somewhat successful) in people with limited intelligence.
You will have more intelligent systems in the physical world, too — not just on your cell phone or computer, but physically present around us, processing and sensing information about the physical world and helping us with decisions that include knowing a lot about features of the physical world. As time goes by, we’ll also see these AI systems having an impact on broader problems in society: managing traffic in a big city, for instance; making complex predictions about the climate; supporting humans in the big decisions they have to make.
Intelligence of Accountability
A lot of companies are working hard on making machines to be able to explain themselves — to be accountable for the decisions they make, to be transparent. A lot of the research we do is letting humans or users query the system. When Cobot, my robot, arrives to my office slightly late, a person can ask , “Why are you late?” or “Which route did you take?”
So they are working on the ability for these AI systems to explain themselves, while they learn, while they improve, in order to provide explanations with different levels of detail. People want to interact with these robots in ways that make us humans eventually trust AI systems more. You would like to be able to say, “Why are you saying that?” or “Why are you recommending this?” Providing that explanation is a lot of the research that is being done, and I believe robots being able to do that will lead to better understanding and trust in these AI systems. Eventually, through these interactions, humans are also going to be able to correct the AI systems. So they are trying to incorporate these corrections and have the systems learn from instruction. I think that’s a big part of our ability to coexist with these AI systems.
The Worst Case Contingency
A lot of the bad things humans do to each other are very specific to human nature. Behavior like becoming violent when we feel threatened, being jealous, wanting exclusive access to resources, preferring our next of kin to strangers, etc were built into us by evolution for the survival of the species. Intelligent machines will not have these basic behavior unless we explicitly build these behaviors into them. Why would we?
Also, if someone deliberately builds a dangerous and generally-intelligent AI, other will be able to build a second, narrower AI whose only purpose will be to destroy the first one. If both AIs have access to the same amount of computing resources, the second one will win, just like a tiger a shark or a virus can kill a human of superior intelligence.
In October 2014, Musk ignited a global discussion on the perils of artificial intelligence. Humans might be doomed if we make machines that are smarter than us, Musk warned. He called artificial intelligence our greatest existential threat.
Musk explained that his attempt to sound the alarm on artificial intelligence didn’t have an impact, so he decided to try to develop artificial intelligence in a way that will have a positive affect on humanity
Brain-machine interfaces could overhaul what it means to be human and how we live. Today, technology is implanted in brains in very limited cases, such as to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Musk wants to go farther, creating a robust plug-in for our brains that every human could use. The brain plug-in would connect to the cloud, allowing anyone with a device to immediately share thoughts.
Humans could communicate without having to talk, call, email or text. Colleagues scattered throughout the globe could brainstorm via a mindmeld. Learning would be instantaneous. Entertainment would be any experience we desired. Ideas and experiences could be shared from brain to brain.
We would be living in virtual reality, without having to wear cumbersome goggles. You could re-live a friend’s trip to Antarctica — hearing the sound of penguins, feeling the cold ice — all while your body sits on your couch.
Final Word – Is AI Uncertainty really about AI ?
I think that the research that is being done on autonomous systems — autonomous cars, autonomous robots — it’s a call to humanity to be responsible. In some sense, it has nothing to do with the AI. The technology will be developed. It was invented by us — by humans. It didn’t come from the sky. It’s our own discovery. It’s the human mind that conceived such technology, and it’s up to the human mind also to make good use of it.
I’m optimistic because I really think that humanity is aware that they need to handle this technology carefully. It’s a question of being responsible, just like being responsible with any other technology every conceived, including the potentially devastating ones like nuclear armaments. But the best thing to do is invest in education. Leave the robots alone. The robots will keep getting better, but focus on education, people knowing each other, caring for each other. Caring for the advancement of society. Caring for the advancement of Earth, of nature, improving science. There are so many things we can get involved in as humankind that could make good use of this technology we’re developing
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The excitement around artificial intelligence is palpable. It seems that not a day goes by without one of the giants in the industry coming out with a breakthrough application of this technology, or a new nuance is added to the overall body of knowledge. Horizontal and industry-specific use cases of AI abound and there is always something exciting around the corner every single day.
However, with the keen interest from global leaders of multinational corporations, the conversation is shifting towards having a strategic agenda for AI in the enterprise. Business heads are less interested in topical experiments and minuscule productivity gains made in the short term. They are more keen to understand the impact of AI in their areas of work from a long-term standpoint. Perhaps the most important question that they want to see answered is – what will my new AI-enabled enterprise look like?
The question is as strategic as it is pertinent. For business leaders, the most important issues are – improving shareholder returns and ensuring a productive workforce – as part of running a sustainable, future-ready business. Artificial intelligence may be the breakout technology of our time, but business leaders are more occupied with trying to understand just how this technology can usher in a new era of their business, how it is expected to upend existing business value chains, unlock new revenue streams, and deliver improved efficiencies in cost outlays. In this article, let us try to answer these questions.
AI is Disrupting Existing Value Chains
Ever since Michael Porter first expounded on the concept in his best-selling book, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, the concept of the value chain has gained great currency in the minds of business leaders globally. The idea behind the value chain was to map out the interlinkages between the primary activities that work together to conceptualize and bring a product / service to market (R&D, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, etc.), as well as the role played by support activities performed by other internal functions (finance, HR, IT etc.). Strategy leaders globally leverage the concept of value chains to improve business planning, identify new possibilities for improving business efficiency and exploit potential areas for new growth.
Now with AI entering the fray, we might see new vistas in the existing value chains of multinational corporations. For instance:
- Manufacturing is becoming heavily augmented by artificial intelligence and robotics. We are seeing these technologies getting a stronger foothold across processes requiring increasing sophistication. Business leaders need to now seriously consider workforce planning for a labor force that consists both human and artificial workers at their manufacturing units. Due attention should also be paid in ensuring that both coexist in a symbiotic and complementary manner.
- Logistics and Delivery are two other areas where we are seeing a steady growth in the use of artificial intelligence. Demand planning and fulfilment through AI has already reached a high level of sophistication at most retailers. Now Amazon – which handles some of the largest and most complex logistics networks in the world – is in advanced stages of bringing in unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for deliveries through their Amazon Prime Air program. Business leaders expect outcomes to range from increased customer satisfaction (through faster deliveries) and reduction in costs for the delivery process.
- Marketing and Sales are constantly on the forefront for some of the most exciting inventions in AI. One of the most recent and evolved applications of AI is Reactful. A tool developed for eCommerce properties, Reactful helps drive better customer conversions by analyzing the clickstream and digital footprints of people who are on web properties and persuades them into making a purchase. Business leaders need to explore new ideas such as this that can help drive meaningful engagement and top line growth through these new AI-powered tools.
AI is Enabling New Revenue Streams
The second way business leaders are thinking strategically around AI is for its potential to unlock new sources of revenue. Earlier, functions such as internal IT were seen as a cost center. In today’s world, due to the cost and competitive pressure, areas of the business which were traditionally considered to be cost centers are require to reinvent themselves into revenue and profit centers. The expectation from AI is no different. There is a need to justify the investments made in this technology – and find a way for it to unlock new streams of revenue in traditional organizations. Here are two key ways in which business leaders can monetize AI:
- Indirect Monetization is one of the forms of leveraging AI to unlock new revenue streams. It involves embedding AI into traditional business processes with a focus on driving increased revenue. We hear of multiple companies from Amazon to Google that use AI-powered recommendation engines to drive incremental revenue through intelligent recommendations and smarter bundling. The action item for business leaders is to engage stakeholders across the enterprise to identify areas where AI can be deeply ingrained within tech properties to drive incremental revenue.
- Direct Monetization involves directly adding AI as a feature to existing offerings. Examples abound in this area – from Salesforce bringing in Einstein into their platform as an AI-centric service to cloud infrastructure providers such as Amazon and Microsoft adding AI capabilities into their cloud offerings. Business leaders should brainstorm about how AI augments their core value proposition and how it can be added into their existing product stack.
AI is Bringing Improved Efficiencies
The third critical intervention for a new AI-enabled enterprise is bringing to the fore a more cost-effective business. Numerous topical and early-stage experiments with AI have brought interesting success for reducing the total cost of doing business. Now is the time to create a strategic roadmap for these efficiency-led interventions and quantitatively measure their impact to business. Some food for thought for business leaders include:
- Supply Chain Optimization is an area that is ripe for AI-led disruption. With increasing varieties of products and categories and new virtual retailers arriving on the scene, there is a need for companies to reduce their outlay on the network that procures and delivers goods to consumers. One example of AI augmenting the supply chain function comes from Evertracker – a Hamburg-based startup. By leveraging IOT sensors and AI, they help their customers identify weaknesses such as delays and possible shortages early, basing their analysis on internal and external data. Business leaders should scout for solutions such as these that rely on data to identify possible tweaks in the supply chain network that can unlock savings for their enterprises.
- Human Resources is another area where AI-centric solutions can be extremely valuable to drive down the turnaround time for talent acquisition. One such solution is developed by Recualizer – which reduces the need for HR staff to scan through each job application individually. With this tool, talent acquisition teams need to first determine the framework conditions for a job on offer, while leaving the creation of assessment tasks to the artificial intelligence system. The system then communicates the evaluation results and recommends the most suitable candidates for further interview rounds. Business leaders should identify such game-changing solutions that can make their recruitment much more streamlined – especially if they receive a high number of applications.
- The Customer Experience arena also throws up very exciting AI use cases. We have now gone well beyond just bots answering frequently asked questions. Today, AI-enabled systems can also provide personalized guidance to customers that can help organizations level-up on their customer experience, while maintaining a lower cost of delivering that experience. Booking.com is a case in point. Their chatbot helps customers identify interesting activities and events that they can avail of at their travel destinations. Business leaders should explore such applications that provide the double advantage of improving customer experience, while maintaining strong bottom-line performance.
The possibilities for the new AI-enabled enterprises are as exciting as they are varied. The ideas shared in this article are by no means exhaustive, but hopefully seed in interesting ideas for powering improved business performance. Strategy leaders and business heads need to consider how their AI-led businesses can help disrupt their existing value chains for the better, and unlock new ideas for improving bottom-line and top-line performance. This will usher in a new era of the enterprise, enabled by AI.
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The year 2018 will be remembered as the year that artificial intelligence stopped being on the periphery of business and entered the mainstream realm. With increasing awareness and capability of AI among the numerous stakeholders, including tech buyers, vendors, investors, governments, and academia, I expect AI will go beyond just tinkering and experiments and will become the mainstay in the business arena.
With an increasing percentage of these stakeholders professing their commitment to leveraging this technology within their organisations, AI has arrived on the world scene. We are sure to see transformative business value being derived through AI in the coming years. As we come to the close of 2018, let us gaze into the crystal ball to see what 2019 will hold for this game-changing technology:
The rise of topical business applications
Currently, we have a lot of general purposes AI frameworks such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning that are being used by corporations for a plethora of use cases. We will see a further evolution of such technology into niche, topical business applications as the demand for pre-packaged software with lower time-to-value increases. We will see a migration from the traditional AI services paradigm to very specific out-of-the-box applications geared to serve particular use cases. Topical AI applications in this space that serve such use cases will be monumentally useful for furthering the growth of AI, rather than bespoke services that require longer development cycles and may cause bottlenecks that enterprises cannot afford.
The merger of AI, Blockchain, cloud, and IoT
Could a future software stack comprise AI, Blockchain, and IoT running on the cloud? It is not too hard to imagine how these exponential technologies can come together to create great value. IoT devices will largely be the interface with which consumers and other societal stakeholders will interact. Voice-enabled and always connected devices – such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa – will augment the customer experience and eventually become the primary point of contact with businesses. AI frameworks such as Speech Recognition and Natural Language Processing will be the translation layer between the sensor on one end and the deciphering technology on the other end. Blockchain-like decentralised databases will act as the immutable core for managing contracts, consumer requests, and transactions between various parties in the supply chain. The cloud will be the mainstay for running these applications, requiring huge computational resources and very high availability.
Focus on business value rather than cost efficiency
2019 will finally be the year that majority of the executive and boardroom conversations around AI will move from reducing headcount and cost efficiency to concrete business value. In 2019, more and more businesses will realise that focusing on AI solutions that reduce cost is a criminal waste of wonderful technology. Ai can be used to identify revenues lost, plug leakages in customer experience, and entirely reinvent business models. I am certain that businesses that focus only on the cost aspect will stand to lose ground to competitors that have a more cogent strategy to take the full advantage of the range of benefits that AI offers.
Development of AI-optimised hardware and software
Ubiquitous and all-pervasive availability of AI will require paradigm shifts in the design of the hardware and software that runs it. In 2019, we will see an explosion of hardware and software designed and optimised to run artificial intelligence. With the increasing size and scale of data fueling AI applications and even more complex algorithms, we will see a huge demand for specialised chipsets that can effectively run AI applications with minimal latency. Investors are showing heavy interest in companies developing GPUs, NPUs, and the like – as demonstrated by Chinese startup Cambricon, which stands valued at a whopping $2.5 billion since its last round of funding this year. End-user hardware such as smart assistants and wearables will also see a massive increase in demand. Traditional software paradigms will also continue to be challenged. Today’s novel frameworks such as TensorFlow will become de rigueur. Architectural components such as edge computing will ensure that higher processing power is more locally available to AI-powered applications.
‘Citizen AI’ to be the new normal
One of the reasons we saw widespread adoption of analytics and data-driven decision-making is because we built applications that democratised the power of data. No longer was data stuck in a remote silo, accessible only to the most sophisticated techies. With tools and technology frameworks we brought data into the mainstream and made it the cornerstone of how enterprises plan and execute strategy. According to Gartner, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists. In 2019, I expect Citizen AI to gain traction as the new normal. Highly advanced AI-powered development environments that automate functional and non-functional aspects of applications will bring forward to a new class of “citizen application developers”, allowing executives to use AI-driven tools to automatically generate new solutions.
Policies to foster and govern AI
Following China’s blockbuster announcement of a National AI Policy in 2017, other countries have rushed to share their take on policy level interventions around AI. I expect to see more countries come forward with their versions of a policy framework for AI – from overarching vision to allaying concerns around ethical breaches. At the same time, countries will also be asked to temper their enthusiasm of widespread data proliferation by releasing their own versions of GDPR-like regulations. For enabling an ecosystem where data can be used to enrich AI algorithms, the public will need to be convinced that this is for the overall good, and they have nothing to fear from potential data misuse and theft.
Speech Recognition will revolutionise NLP
In the last few years, frameworks for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) have made huge strides. NLP algorithms are now able to decipher emotions, sarcasm, and figures of speech. Going forward, voice assistants will use data from voice and combine that with deep learning to associate the words spoken with emotions, enriching the overall library that processes speech and text. This will be a revolutionary step forward for fields such as customer service and customer experience where many bots have typically struggled with the customer’s tone of voice and intonation.
The growth of explainable AI
And finally, with numerous decisions powered by AI – and specifically unsupervised learning models – we will see enterprises demand “explainable” AI. In simplified terms, explainable AI helps executives “look under the hood” to understand the “what” and “why” of the decisions and recommendations made by artificial intelligence. Development of explainable AI will be predicated on the need for increased transparency and trust. Explainable AI will be essential to ensure that there is some level of transparency (and potentially, learning) that is gleaned from unsupervised systems.
Convergence of AI and analytics
This is a trend that is a logical consequence of the decisive power of data in business today. In 2019, we will see a merger of analytics and AI – as the one-stop for uncovering and understanding insights from data. With advancements in AI seen so far, the algorithms are more than capable of taking up tasks that involve complex insight generation from multi-source, voluminous data. This convergence of AI and analytics will lead to automation that will improve the speed and accuracy of the decisions that power business planning and strategy. AI-powered forecasting will help deliver faster decisions, with minimal human interventions and create higher cost savings for the business.
Focus on physical and cybersecurity paradigms
Two of the domains ripe for an AI transformation are the fields of physical and cybersecurity. As intrusions into physical and virtual environments become commonplace and threats become hugely pervasive, AI will be a massive boost to how we secure these environments. Advances in fields such as ML-powered anomaly detection will drastically reduce the time required to surface potential intrusions into secure environments. This will enable organisations to better protect user data. When combined with Blockchain, AI will give cybersecurity a huge boost through decentralised, traceable databases containing valuable client and strategic information. On the physical security side, Computer Vision is rapidly gaining currency in the fields of physical intruder detection. Surveillance cameras, originally manned by security guards, will soon be replaced by AI-powered systems that will be able to react faster and more proactively to intruders that pose a threat to physical premises. When you combine that with face recognition, working with a database of known offenders, we will see a quantum drop in the time required to adjudicate and address cases of theft and unauthorised entry by law enforcement agencies.
In summary, the broad directions that I predict AI will take include interventions to make it more embedded, responsible, and explainable; convergence with other exponential technologies such as cloud, Blockchain, and IoT; cybersecurity; a greater proliferation and development of use cases; and great strides in the technology and its supporting infrastructure. Enterprises would do well to adopt this revolutionary technology and ensure a strong availability of talent to conceptualise, develop, and unleash value from AI applications.
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For the larger mass of professionals, the words “artificial intelligence,” or AI, often conjure up images of robots, the sorts of robots that might someday take their jobs. But at the enterprise level, AI means something different. It has enormous power and potential: it can disrupt, innovate, enhance, and in many cases totally transform a business. Forrester Research predicts a 300% increase in AI investment in 2017 from last year, and IDC estimates that the AI market will surge from about $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. There’s solid proof that the investment can pay off—if CEO’s can adopt the right strategy. Organizations that deploy AI strategically enjoy advantages ranging from cost reductions and higher productivity to top-line benefits such as increasing revenue and profits, richer customer experiences, and working-capital optimization. The survey shows that the companies winning at AI are also more likely to enjoy broader business success.
So How to make your Enterprise AI Ready?
just one quarter of organizations say they are getting significant impact from it. But these leading businesses have taken clear, practical steps to get the results they want. Here are five of their key strategies:
- Core AI Resource Assimilation using Funding or Acquisition
- Gain senior management support
- Focus on process, not function
- Reskill your teams and foster a learning culture
- Shift from system-of-record to system-of-intelligence apps, platforms
- Encourage innovation
Core AI Resource Assimilation using Funding or Acquisition
As per insights from Forbes and Cowen & Company, 81% of IT leaders are currently investing in or planning to invest in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Based on the study, CIOs have a new mandate to integrate AI into IT technology stacks. The study found that 43% are evaluating and doing a Proof of Concept (POC) and 38% are already live and planning to invest more. The following graphic provides an overview of company readiness for machine learning and AI projects.
Through 2020, organization using cognitive ergonomics and system design in new AI projects will achieve long term success four times more often than others
With $1.7 billion invested in AI startups in Q1 2017 alone, and the exponential efficiencies created by this sort of technology, this evolution will happen quicker than many business leaders are prepared for. If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The good news is that you still have options:
- You can acquire, or invest in, an innovative technology company applying AI/ML in your market, and gain access to new product and AI/ML talent.
- You can seek to invest as a limited partner in a few early stage AI focused VC firms, gaining immediate access and exposure to vetted early stage innovation, a community of experts and market trends.
- You can set out to build an AI-focused division to optimize your internal processes using AI, and map out how AI can be integrated into your future products. But recruiting in the space is painful and you will need a strong vision and sense of purpose to attract and retain the best.
- You can use outside development-for-hire shops like new entrant Element.ai, who raised over $100M last June, or more traditional consulting firms, to fill the gaps or get the ball rolling.
Process Based Focus Rather than Function Based
One critical element differentiates AI success from AI failure: strategy. AI cannot be implemented piecemeal. It must be part of the organization’s overall business plan, along with aligned resources, structures, and processes. How a company prepares its corporate culture for this transformation is vital to its long-term success. That includes preparing people by having senior management that understands the benefits of AI; fostering the right skills, talent, and training; managing change; and creating an environment with processes that welcome innovation before, during, and after the transition.
The challenge of AI isn’t just the automation of processes—it’s about the up-front process design and governance you put in to manage the automated enterprise. The ability to trace the reasoning path AI technologies use to make decisions is important. This visibility is crucial in financial services, where auditors and regulators require firms to understand the source of a machine’s decision.
Taking down Resistance to change of Upper Management
One of the biggest challenges to digital transformation is resistance to change. The survey found that upper management is the group most strongly opposed to AI implementation. C-suite executives may not have warmed up to it either. There is such a lack of understanding about the benefits which the technology can bring that the C-suite or board members simply don’t want to invest in it, nor do they understand that failing to do so will adversely affect their bottom line and even cause them to go out of business. Regulatory uncertainty about AI, rough experiences with previous technological innovation, and a defensive posture to better protect shareholders, not stakeholders, may be contributing factors.
Pursuing AI without senior management support is difficult. Here the numbers again speak for themselves. The majority of leading AI companies (68%) strongly agree that their senior management understands the benefits AI offers. By contrast, only 7% of laggard firms agree with this view. Curiously, though, the leading group still cites the lack of senior management vision as one of the top two barriers to the adoption of AI.
Reskilling Teams and HR Redeployment
HR and corporate management will need to figure out new jobs for people to do. Redeployment is going to be a huge factor that the better companies will learn how to handle. The question of job losses is a sensitive one, most often played up in news headlines. But AI also creates numerous job opportunities in new and different areas, often enabling employees to learn higher-level skills. In healthcare for example, physicians are learning to work with AI-powered diagnostic tools to avoid mistakes and make better decisions. The question is who owns the data. If HR retains ownership of people data, it continues to have a role. If it loses that, all bets are off.
HR’s other role in an AI future will be to help make decisions about if and when to automate, whether to reskill or redeploy the human workforce, and the moral and ethical aspects of such decisions. Companies which are experimenting with bots and AI with no thought for the implications need to realize that HR should be central to the governance of AI automation.
Given the potential of AI to complement human intelligence, it is vital for top-level executives to be educated about reskilling possibilities. It is in the best interest of companies to train workers who are being moved from jobs that are automated by AI to jobs in which their work is augmented by AI.
The Dawn of System-of-Intelligence Apps & Platforms
Cowen predicts that an Intelligent App Stack will gain rapid adoption in enterprises as IT departments shift from system-of-record to system-of-intelligence apps, platforms, and priorities. The future of enterprise software is being defined by increasingly intelligent applications today, and this will accelerate in the future.
By 2019, AI platform services will cannibalize revenues for 30% of market leading companies -Gartner
Cowen predicts it will be commonplace for enterprise apps to have machine learning algorithms that can provide predictive insights across a broad base of scenarios encompassing a company’s entire value chain. The potential exists for enterprise apps to change selling and buying behaviour, tailoring specific responses based on real-time data to optimize discounting, pricing, proposal and quoting decisions.
The Process of Supporting Innovation
Besides developing capabilities among employees, an organization’s culture and processes must also support new approaches and technologies. Innovation waves take a lot longer because of the human element. You can’t just put posters on the walls and say, ‘Hey, we have become an AI-enabled company, so let’s change the culture.’ The way it works is to identify and drive visible examples of adoption.
Algorithmic trading, image recognition/tagging, and patient data processing are predicted to the top AI uses cases by 2025. Tractica forecasts predictive maintenance and content distribution on social media will be the fourth and fifth highest revenue producing AI uses cases over the next eight years.
In the End, it’s about Transforming Enterprise
AI is part of a much bigger process of re-engineering enterprises. That is the major difference between the sci-fi robots of yesteryear and today’s AI: the technologies of the latter are completely integrated into the fabric of business, allowing private and public-sector organizations to transform themselves and society in profound ways. You don’t have to turn to sci-fi. The story of human/machine collaboration is already playing at an enterprise near
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Artificial intelligence is transforming our lives at home and at work. At home, you may be one of the 1.8 million people who use Amazon’s Alexa to control the lights, unlock your car, and receive the latest stock quotes for the companies in your portfolio. In total, Alexa is touted as having more than 3,000 skills and growing daily. In the workplace, artificial intelligence is evolving into an intelligent assistant to help us work smarter. Artificial intelligence is not the future of the workplace, it is the present and happening today.
Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years. In 2016, this continued to increase with roughly another $1.5 billion being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies in 2016. AI is becoming indispensable in the healthcare industry. Will we be saying the same thing about CHROs using artificial intelligence in the workplace? Will we consider it unthinkable not to use intelligent assistants to transform recruiting, HR service centers, and learning and development? I believe the answer is yes. HR leaders will need to begin experimenting with all facets of AI to deliver value to their organizations. As intelligent assistants become more widely used in our personal lives, we will expect to see similar usage in the workplace.
For employees, chatbots deliver an unmatched level of employee experience, from real time answers for HR questions to personalized learning and development. In addition, they are critically important to the 3.7 million workers, or 2.8% of the workforce, who work remotely at least half time and do not have easy access to an HR department.
For HR leaders, chatbots are well suited to improving talent acquisition and on-boarding processes by increasing speed and providing greater consistency in answering frequently asked HR questions, improving the talent acquisition process, and enhancing the online learning experience.
AI Chatbots To Answer Frequently Asked Employee Questions
Let’s consider Jane, a chatbot created by Loka, in 2014. Jane provides real time answers to a range of HR questions, including, “Are we off on President’s Day?” or “What are my dental benefits?” Jane is capable of answering any question and answer set that can be stored in a database. In addition to answering frequently asked questions, CEO Bobby Mukherjee says Jane is designed to proactively promote benefits to employees they may not yet know about. Says Mukherjee, “Companies are coming up with lots of new benefits, but they do not have an effective way to promote usage.” Imagine Jane can reach out to employees with, “Hey John, have you tried our Yoga class that we are offering in your building today at 3:00 pm? Click here to automatically book yourself. You’ve been working hard and you deserve it!”
Another value of Jane is the opportunity to track employee issues using real time analytics and then apply sentiment analysis to address these issues. Let’s say that a majority of employees are asking questions about late payments for travel reimbursements. This data can indicate something in the system isn’t working correctly. Before things become a full blown issue, HR leaders can uncover the issue and communicate a solution.
Granted there will be questions Jane cannot answer yet, but the opportunity is here to provide AI for all types of HR related questions that might be coming into your HR Service Center.
AI To Improve Talent Acquisition
Talent acquisition and new hire on-boarding are ripe areas where intelligent assistants can tap multiple data sources to develop candidate profiles, schedule interviews, and make decisions about prospective job candidates.
Talla is a chatbot designed to augment the HR processes that source job candidates. Talla can provide a set of interview questions based upon the role, and can even conduct a Net Promoter Score survey following the recruiting process. Rob May, CEO of Talla, sees, “an intelligent assistant as being able to augment a mid-level HR professionals’ job so she can focus on more strategic HR issues.” The vision behind launching Talla is to ultimately become a real time advisor to HR professionals in how they source and on-board new hires.
May estimates that Talla will save many hours in recruiting and on-boarding new hires and will greatly enhance the employee experience. Improving talent acquisition and new hire on-boarding is a priority for CHROs. According to Eric Lesser, Research Director of IBM Institute for Business Value, “More than half of the CHROs surveyed believe cognitive computing will affect a wide range of roles in the HR organization, ranging from senior executives to individuals working in service centers.”
AI for Talent Management Inside Workplace
AI can also be used for intricate data collection of employees in their workplace in an automated fashion. One option would be to track the movements of the employees inside office space to assess their activities on ground. Companies can track employees’ whereabouts in the office. Bluvision makes radio badges that track movement of people or objects in a building, and display it in an app and send an alert if a badge wearer violates a policy set by the customer—say, when a person without proper credentials enters a sensitive area. The system can also be used to track time employees spend, say, at their desks, in the cafeteria or in a restroom.
Bluvision’s AI compensates for the margin of error in determining location of radio transmitters, allowing the system to locate badges with one-meter accuracy, according to COO John Sailer. Without it, people near one another would be indistinguishable, and the positions of doors, desks, walls and the like—useful information for security and optimizing use of space—would be blurred.
The system is also useful in situations where contractors are paid hourly or piecemeal, such as on a construction site, where subcontractors must complete work in order and on schedule to avoid cost overruns. Although Bluvision tracks individuals, it can also be set to present only aggregate trends. That allows customers to take advantage of location tracking without breaking privacy laws or agreements protecting personally identifying information about employees.
The limits of AI Currently
For all their promise, these systems raise a number of issues. Some are evident today, in the early stages of adoption, while others may take time to become clear.
Privacy is an obvious concern when tracking employees, particularly personal behavior. Systems that sort job candidates also raise questions. Entelo’s may emphasize people with a large online footprint; SAP’s might prefer those who best match characteristics of people who were hired in the past.
Also, the limitations of current approaches boil down to the difficulty of drawing valid conclusions from incomplete data. For instance, measurements of employee performance at any given company are based on the set of people hired and lack information about candidates who were passed over—or weren’t even interviewed—who may have, say, produced more in less time. Aggregating data from many customers, as some larger vendors including SAP and Workday do, can reduce bias, but the problem remains that different companies may not track the same variables in the same way, and subtle but important ones are likely to be missing.