Tech companies agree – artificial intelligence (AI) can change the world and fundamentally transform businesses on a global scale.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has said he wants AI “in the hands of every developer, every organisation, every public sector organisation around the world”.
Meanwhile, Fei-Fei Li, the chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud, adds: “The next step for AI must be democratisation. This means lowering the barriers of entry, making it available to the largest possible community of developers, users and enterprises.”
This article looks at the challenge of democratising AI and making it accessible for all businesses, and how using business intelligence and AI can give enterprises the edge when it comes to making tactical decisions.
Democratising AI means your business can find new solutions
One man who understands new opportunities for businesses to take advantage of through AI is Nav Dhunay.
Coming from an oil and gas background where he specialised in the Internet of Things (IoT) technology by founding a business called Ambyint, Nav then founded Imaginea AI, which has a lofty goal: democratising AI by putting it in the hands of everyone.
The business has the aim of making AI as accessible as buying an app, so problems can be solved, broken systems can be changed and businesses improved.
He says: “The impact of AI is very broad with its scope – possible uses of AI range from helping a coffee shop optimise its staffing schedule to predicting when the next white rhino will be poached or detecting diabetes.
“I saw that businesses weren’t accelerating adoption because they felt the cost of entry to AI was prohibitive. Businesses may be starting from scratch, who don’t have access to the talent and technology needed.
“We’re on a mission to fix that by democratising AI and lowering the barrier for businesses develop commercial applications.”
Imaginea AI does this through an AI marketplace that allows businesses to collaborate with data scientists. The data scientists can develop their algorithms, solve business problems and potentially monetise their work, while businesses can work with these experts to meet challenges they can’t meet on their own.
AI democratisation is becoming a trend. More options for businesses looking to create AI applications are springing up – platforms such as Google TensorFlow and Amazon Machine Learning have been established, meaning businesses without data science teams can apply AI and prepare data systems.
How can your business take advantage of AI democratisation?
According to Gartner, self-service analytics and users of business intelligence (BI) will conduct more analysis than data scientists by 2019.
Carlie J Idoine, research director at Gartner, says: “Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and SaaS (cloud) analytics and BI platforms are making it easier and more cost-effective than ever before for non-specialists to perform effective analysis and better inform their decision-making.”
If your business wants to take advantage of new AI development tools, look closely at use cases where AI is already a proven solution and ask these three straightforward questions:
- Can the application of AI make your business run more effectively and efficiently?
- Can AI solve your business problems?
- Can AI make your business more profitable?
How AI can make a difference depends very much on your industry but there are numerous examples you can consider. For example:
Businesses in financial services. From hedge funds using AI for qualitative trading to the use of Robot Process Automation (RPA) in financial software.
Businesses in manufacturing. Predictive analytics, pattern recognition and outlier detection on inventory information.
Businesses in the automotive sector. Autonomous cars that can learn from experiences and adapt to real-time situations.
How your business can make the most of a BI revolution
Business intelligence (BI) has been a consideration for large businesses for a long time (in technology terms) – using software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that can inform strategic and tactical business decisions.
By using BI tools, organisations can access and analyse data, and present reports and dashboards to provide users with detailed information that they can use for the business.
AI has changed the game when it comes to BI. Previously, BI was more likely to be reactive – describing a past or current state. With the use of sophisticated algorithms, businesses are increasingly making use of real-time analytics to identify trends and make informed decisions that can provide a winning edge.
AI is also coming to the enterprise as businesses at all levels deal with the big data explosion created from the cloud and data sources, including smartphones, tablets and IoT devices. Now they don’t have to settle for static reporting. Instead, they can make sense of this data with predictive and proactive analytics that AI technology can properly handle.
The big data explosion had left some businesses in a state of confusion, as it can be difficult for humans to sift through this data, leading to lower productivity and an inability to find enough useful information in the data provided. It has led to businesses losing money on BI and regarding it as a poor investment.
However, with AI, businesses can process data via computers that can mimic the form and function of the human mind. AI can process much larger amounts of data than previous generations of computers, through sound and visual images if necessary.
Nav says: “Now we can put a sensor on anything in the industrial space and analyse data. The lure of AI is that it can help us with the analytics side – sensors can read information in a matter of milliseconds, transmitting speedy positive information that can help businesses.
“With AI, computers can process huge datasets and stream data in seconds, seeing insights and anomalies at rapid speed.”
There are a number of factors to consider if you want to make the best use of BI tools:
A BI roadmap
You need a strong overall BI strategy. You need to consider what type of reporting and analytics you need, who will be using it and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to measure.
Creating a BI team
If you’re going to get involved with AI, you need people to integrate data, understand the insights and make them valuable to the overall business.
Your data ecosystem
Data comes from many sources and the only way you can analyse it properly is by gathering and organising it. Think about where are you going to store your data and what tools will you be using to make use of it.
Your business doesn’t need to go ‘all-in’ with AI
Nav doesn’t think it’s necessary for businesses to become “AI organisations”. He says: “If you look at a farming company for example, it specialises in agriculture. It’s not a technology company that needs a group of data scientists or the ability to build an AI infrastructure. They’re good at things like harvesting. But if they want to use the AI tools that can help, give them access.”
With the fourth industrial revolution, we’re in an age where data has great value – some call it a new currency. As humans, we’re constrained in our ability to absorb and make the best use of it. Now we have the computational power to escape these constraints and allow all businesses – from startup to enterprise in every industry – to make the best for themselves.
It was a breakout year for AI in 2017 and we’ve witnessed unprecedented understanding in what artificial intelligence can truly do for businesses. There’s still work to be done, of course, but the tools are now here to reach out and grab.