AI – less talk more action!

“It’s not AI that’s going to take your job; but someone who knows how to use AI might” - economist Richard Baldwin

Focus on AI
AI is set to transform the world of work (Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images)

Industry leaders all agree, the view is unanimous, the hype is real - AI is set to transform the world of work.

The slideware is slick, the CVs have been sharpened and the proof of concepts are flowing. The market believes and is ready to move.

But the majority of leaps are too small and the ambitions are too safe. For all the talk, there has not been enough action!

Some 65% of CEOs recognise the potential for AI to drive productivity and positive outcomes for all stakeholders while the same amount believe more work is needed to address the social, ethical and criminal risks in the new AI-fuelled future. I have watched early adapters stumble as quiet watchers sit back and wait for the magic AI pill to land.

Have we had a failure to launch? No.

I see many businesses adopting AI successfully and they all have three ingredients in common:

  • They focussed on value
  • They put data at the centre
  • They put the mind in the machine

A focus on value: The best businesses keep it simple. Will AI help me make money, save money or manage risk? If not, don’t do it. I have seen businesses in the UK and Ireland adopt AI in a matter of weeks to grow sales and revenue, focussing on customer acquisition, revenue optimisation and product rationalisation. AI has made decision making faster, automated processes and found answers a human would take weeks to uncover. I have seen rapid uptick in sales pipelines, revenue and margins through AI transforming the traditional commercial focus of a business. As Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davis said: “Handling change is like a muscle – use it or lose it. Will it make the boat go faster? Then do it!”

Putting data at the centre - For many years we have heard data is the new oil. But it is much more valuable than that. It’s a super fuel. It is food for AI. An algorithm can be perfect, beautiful in it’s code based isolation – but feed that perfect model imperfect data and the results will also be imperfect. Rubbish in, rubbish out. The best companies are investing in data quality, governance, information curation and a strategy focussed on using systems to create clean data. A single view of customer feeds better customer engagement, better service and ultimately increased customer lifetime value. Data quality is finally sexy. To embrace AI, data has to become your business!

Putting the mind in the machine - The market has rushed to employ PHDs, data scientists and tech talent from the social media giants. This has created a clash of the traditional and the technical, the commercial and the creatives. The integration of skills and cultures has been tough. There are many lonely data scientists and many frustrated accountants. However, there’s magic in transforming the traditional and putting the business mind in the AI machine. When you focus on value, upskill across your organisation and create well rounded AI project teams the hype becomes reality.

Artificial intelligence article
Gareth Kelly

AI has landed and the best are moving now. Put away the slides, turn the concepts into reality and simply start.

As economist Richard Baldwin said: “It’s not AI that is going to take your job, but someone who knows how to use AI might...”

  • Gareth Kelly is data, analytics and AI partner at EY Ireland