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October 10, 2017

What executives need to know about big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence isn’t just something your CIO needs to get to grips with – it’s something that will define all aspects of business operations and is likely to become a common phrase in every boardroom around the world. Executive teams in every industry will need to understand how and why to leverage A.I.

The concepts of machine learning and big data aren’t actually that new – computer scientists have been developing these ideas for decades. But affordable technology that is promising extraordinary results, is now starting to make organisations seriously consider the use of such ideas.

So, what exactly do executives need to know about dig data, machine learning and A.I.?

Firstly, advances in big data and artificial intelligence aren’t just relevant to tech companies, they will help all industries improve. Early adopters and those who can utilise this technology to streamline any part of an organisation is likely to see benefits. Some of the most untechnical industries could be turned upside down by machine learning algorithms and the possibilities it presents.

Start Small & Grow Sustainably

A.I. isn’t about chasing futurist dreams of robot assistants and flying cars – it’s about improving business operations, whatever business that is. From sales funnels, to customer service, to the most technical strategic decisions, A.I. can help improve how these day-to-day tasks can be done.

The first step in succeeding with A.I. and machine learning is to start small and get consistent results for just one small task. If this is successful, then you can expand and grow. However, if it requires lots of expertise and tweaking, you know that adopting A.I. into your business operations will require more effort and investment and you can factor this in.

A.I. doesn’t need to replace humans, rather help improve efficiencies and processes. Skilled and experienced candidates will always be the most precious asset to any business, but learning how to integrate an A.I. system around such talent will be a defining feature of businesses that want to see exponential growth.

As Dan Watts writes in this article about being human in an A.I. environment, there are certain qualities and characteristics that can’t be replaced by machines and thus organisations can’t look to a future where there isn’t a need for a talented and skilled workforce.

Test Everything

Unlike humans, computer algorithms rely heavily on the specific data being imputed and the emphasis on what tasks to do. It may sound obvious, but learning what parts of a business would benefit from such technology is a vital step in delivering results for an organisation. Integrating A.I. just for the sake of it, into a department that didn’t need it, won’t provide any value to a business.

A.I. provides the most benefits when the people controlling the technology know what to test, when to test and what the results of those tests mean. 2 organisations using the same technology can create very different strategic roadmaps for the future. The organisation that embeds an ethos of testing and experimenting how A.I. is working and impacting the business will see a much clearer and advanced roadmap.

Invest in People, then Technology

Organisations have had to cope with introductions of new technology for years. From opportunities in radio advertising, to the first computers, to recent software and apps, organisations around the world are used to learning how to adapt to new technology and ideas. A.I. is no different and shouldn’t be seen as an unknown and scary concept. Instead, executives and boardrooms simply need to decide what they want to achieve, and how their workforce can do this with the help of technology.

The value in having amazing people and talented candidates in all parts of a business, from apprentices to senior executives, will always be at the heart of a business.

Focus on Business Goals, not Features and Specs of A.I.

Just because you can automate something, doesn’t mean you should. There are some tasks that if automated could in fact cause more complications down the line. Customers and clients will still have certain expectations and suddenly engaging with an organisation that appears faceless and controlled by machine algorithms might not be the reputation that you want.

Just like the adoption of the internet, or smartphones, A.I. is likely to become an influential part of daily life. This however, doesn’t mean organisations and executives need to gamble and invest everything into such technology. Instead, it’s about keeping up with the latest news and technologies in this space, and knowing how such technologies can be incorporated into a specific part of an organisation to see improvements and business growth.

Over the last few years, A.I. is a topic that we’ve increasingly discussed more with executives and board members. We’ve helped create strategic plans for organisations to develop hires and systems that flourish in a technologically advanced ecosystem.

Get in touch today and let us help your organisation flourish and thrive in next era of technology.

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