There's no question that artificial intelligence (AI) is on a lot of people's minds these days, and is beginning to grow rapidly in adoption. Quoting Accenture, Forbes reports AI-driven productivity gains of perhaps 40% by 2035, and publications like The New York Times are noting the buzz even as they ask, why now? Even if you don't think you'll be adopting AI for yourself just yet, you need to at least consider the broader impact the technology will have on your industry or organization, and be prepared for a changing environment.
If you're wondering "Why now?" yourself, check out our blog post, What's Different Now: 5 Reasons Why AI Is Suddenly Accessible.
There are many ways that you can take advantage of the benefits of AI, whether you are in a large or small organization — but before we get into that, it's important to understand just how pervasive AI has become. Let's take a look at several key industries and how AI is already transforming their operations.
Big Government and Smarter Cities
Although government and high tech may not seem to be an obvious mix, many national and municipal governments across the world are embracing technology and developing "smarter" cities and processes:
- In the UK today, the government has a stated goal of installing smart energy meters in every home by 2020 and is using IoT and machine learning to improve medical outcomes for people with dementia.
- The mayor of London just appointed the city’s first Chief Digital Officer, part of a goal to make London the leading “Smart City.”
- New York City has a new Chief Technology Officer, in part to help provide universal broadband access in the city (and he was previously the CIO of San Francisco).
These are just a few examples of the types of initiatives going on worldwide as governments seek to take advantage of IoT devices, machine learning, and other new technologies.
Global Oil and Gas Enterprises Go Cognitive
The oil and gas industry is worth billions, and like any large corporation, can be slow to change. In fact, most pipelines in use today are many decades old. Even so, the wheels are turning, as my colleague Sundeep Sanghavi points out here. For example, oil producer Gazprom Neft has just partnered with IBM to increase the effectiveness of their operations, and according to the Oil and Gas Technology Center, by optimizing their use of data, oil companies can increase production by up to 5% and reduce costs by 10%.
This is data that oil companies largely already have — the average offshore rig contains 40,000 data tags. To realize the gains outlined by the OGTC, the trick is just to move from data to insight to outcomes.
Machine Learning: From Amazon to Manufacturing
Amazon is a dominant player in online retail for a number of reasons, but chief among them is their astute application of a tremendous amount of customer data, which allows them to do things like expertly suggest what you might want to buy next. Other retailers are responding in kind to compete, amassing and analyzing their own data stores.
It is especially interesting to observe this effect in Australia, as Amazon prepares to launch there. Retailers large and small are optimizing their data practices, improving connectivity, and automating the collection and analysis of data.
This kind of predictive data is also incredibly valuable for manufacturers and others in the B2B space. Imagine you supply washing machines to large hotel chains, and thanks to the data you're collecting on each machine, you can accurately predict when individual washers will break down or need repair and provide timely support.
In the race for actionable insights, a smart technology platform that helps you take advantage of your data is critical.
How You Can Enable AI in Your Organization
It's clear that AI, understood as a collection of powerful and smart technologies, is at the heart of huge opportunities for growth. If you're not already, now is the time to apply the core technologies that will enable AI in your business. It's never been easier or less expensive. Even if you invested in some of these four technologies at some point, it's worth revisiting your software infrastructure to make sure you've got the flexibility to integrate and scale all these systems as you need to.
- IoT devices
- Data lakes
- Cloud computing
- Machine and meta-learning
These are the four key areas that are driving the value of AI today, and with the right platform, anyone can take advantage of them. I talk in more detail about each of these points here.
The Last Step: Apply Your Insights
Understanding how AI can help you and enabling it across your organization is critical, but there is a final step. After you have amassed valuable data and even derived valuable insights from it, you need to have the business processes in place to act, especially for large enterprises — think of the oil companies with miles and miles of pipeline in different parts of the world — it can be a complicated task to make the leap from insight to decisions in a smooth and consistent manner. Don't ignore this crucial step.