Following last week’s CogX conference, a London festival of all things AI, Charlie Ross discusses how business use will range from immediate operational efficiencies to a future-focused view of strategy and competitor landscape.
AI and machine learning, allowing software to improve its performance using feedback from past examples without human interaction – to ‘think’ – is becoming more widespread given increasing volumes of data, falling costs of data storage and computing power. It is now on the horizon for most businesses, not just those that consider themselves ‘technology’ companies.
Our investee Symphony Ventures, which was nominated at CogX for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Industry Analysis or Strategy' alongside McKinsey and Accenture, is one of the services firms helping businesses to enable this change. Symphony provides consulting, implementation and managed services to enterprise clients looking to automate operational processes that are manual, repetitive, complex and time consuming through Robotic Process Automation and Intelligent Automation solutions.
Strategy goes far and above operational efficiencies though. Businesses of the future are looking at the uses of AI throughout their strategic environment – so in suppliers, customers, and competitors – to make sure they are aware of the implications and changing business models. For example, the rise of autonomous cars will have a material impact on insurers. As this HBR article points out, 94% of car accidents are due to human error, so a world in which accidents are (hopefully) much reduced is likely to see changes in insurance premiums and therefore profitability. Equally, autonomous vehicles in the supply chain are likely to reduce lead times and hence need for stock holding in manufacturing and fashion businesses.
Companies will need to think about how they deploy these new technologies effectively, and in particular whether AI / machine learning is (i) a strategic advantage for them that they should work on in house, or (ii) something they should purchase from third party vendors. In cloud storage, platforms have consolidated (e.g. Amazon with AWS and Microsoft with Azure), and so firms looking for data storage solutions have preferred to deploy third party tools. We are already seeing something similar in this space, for example with Amazon’s SageMaker, an architecture to build, train and tune machine learning tools, with a set of APIs giving access to pre-built tools which allow you to analyse images, build chatbots, translate text and provide text to speech tools.
Symphony Ventures has been addressing just these questions. Front of mind is the ‘Future of Work’, and in particular how businesses use Process Automation and Intelligent Automation tools as a part of an overall digital transformation, not just to automate what a business already does. It was clear from CogX that most businesses will need to work out how to handle the impact of AI.
If this has sparked any thoughts about how either Livingbridge or Symphony Ventures could help your business, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.