Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly finding a place at the heart of the enterprise, with it set to affect 25 percent of technology spend going forward, according to Accenture. Enabling better-informed decisions by augmenting human intelligence with powerful computing and precise data analysis, and then automating the tasks that follow, AI and automation – like an AA battery – have the power to energise business and help them drive towards success.
Their rapid emergence has been driven by three factors. The cloud has made huge amounts of computing and processing power available, on demand. The data deluge – where 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years – has brought the critical mass needed to power the smart algorithms that drive these new capabilities. New AI tools that can easily be integrated into a business as an engine for innovation, are helping organisations more easily adopt them and gain benefit.
With so many potential applications for AI, where should companies start, especially given Forrester’s caution that in 2018, 75% of AI projects will underwhelm because they fail to model operational considerations? Here are five key areas for consideration:
1. Driving value from data: We live in a world where data is big and insight needs to be in real-time. As data sets become larger, new, automated, AI-enabled tools will speed up the ability to find the needle in the haystack and then ensure appropriate action is taken. These tools will also have an incredibly powerful role to play in how data is managed. Taking on the tasks of running, patching and optimising databases and data warehouses, these new offerings will deliver unprecedented availability, performance, and security—at a significantly lower cost by eliminating the cost of human error stemming from manual processes.
2. Rebalancing the cyber warfare: Another area where humans can’t keep up is around the rapidly expanding challenges inherent to enterprise cybersecurity. There are too many devices, too many applications, too many users, too many infringements and too many megabytes of log files for humans to make sense of it all, and then react in a timescale that would make a difference, in today’s world, that potentially could be milliseconds. Businesses will need to rely on AI and automation to automate the detection, prevention and response to security breaches, performance anomalies, and vulnerabilities. Only by using machines to fight machines will companies be able to reprioritize and rethink about how they defend their information.
3. The search for operational excellence: Businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce time-to-market for new applications and services. At the same time, they are overwhelmed by the distributed nature and volume of their operational systems, finding their siloed form hindering their ability to make good decisions, troubleshoot issues and drive cross-business collaboration. Cloud, while simplifying things in certain areas has added an extra dimension, making it increasingly difficult for IT teams to optimise enterprise systems and prevent catastrophic failures. AI can automate the many various monitoring and control requirements needed to keep enterprise systems running at their best, helping identify anomalies that human teams would have missed, enabling new levels of optimisation.
4. Boosting business performance: Embedded AI capabilities within core business applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), supply chain management (HCM), Sales and Marketing are helping make the decision-making process simpler and more efficient for business professionals across the organisation. In Finance this has the potential to improve activities like supplier negotiations, especially at times like end of quarter reporting when companies are also focused on optimising cash flow needs and balancing costs. In HR, recruiters would be better able to identify the best candidates in the shortest time. For Marketing professionals, AI is already being used to help them run more personalised campaigns around next best offers.
5. Creating conversation from chat: Finally, as shown by Bajaj, a good area to start with AI is chatbots, especially given the rising importance of the customer experience set to be a key competitive battleground for 2018. With new AI enabled platforms available that make it quick and easy to build and train Intelligent Bots without the need for specialist AI skills.
Without doubt, AI will be an increasingly important element of the business environment and is not something that can be watched from the sidelines. Given that the benefits of AI are really quite simple – speed from automation and the ability to make better decisions – if the guy in front makes a better decision than you and does it faster, you are going to be outraced. You can’t afford to sit back and wait.
By Niral Patel, Managing Director Oracle South Africa