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Artificial Intelligence - The Big Picture

 

I often get asked by customers & colleagues alike, ‘so what is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and can you give me a quick explanation?’. Over the next few blogs I will attempt to answer this question and give an overview of what AI is, why it is all happening now and how you can get started on the AI journey. There is a huge amount of hype around AI at the minute with AI and Advance Analytics being one of the top three priorities for CIOs.

AI has hit the lips of consumers in a big way, mainly driven by the likes of Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Duplex. These personal digital assistants are a form of weak AI or AI that is focused on a very specific set of tasks, opposed to strong AI which is AI with the ability to apply intelligence to a problem domain or broad set of problems. It is worth noting that, as of today, we have yet to crack the strong AI problem, so AI is really about using machines to focus on a narrow problem space, but a problem space with lots of data and rules so complex they cannot be written down or if they can they are impossible to update or maintain

We live in a connected worldWe live in a connected world

Outside of what consumers are seeing, AI is starting to become mainstream inside organisations, being used to tackle some of the problems caused by the explosion of data. IDC analysis shows that global spending on cognitive & AI systems reached $19.1bn at the end of 2018 and by the end of 2019 AI will be in 40% of all digital transformation. This means that if you are not thinking about how to bring AI into your organisation in a meaningful way, you are probably going to be left behind.

More and more data either means more and more people to process it, or more and more rules to understand how to gain value from it, or thinking about the problem in a different way using AI. IDC goes on to predict that by 2021 75% of transformation projects will have an AI component and spending will hit a little over $52bn.

Executing against the transformations demanded by the economic world in which we live means change is sometimes evolution sometimes revolution. Whichever of these approaches is effecting your industry, AI plays a role and a significant one at that. The one thing that digital transformation is doing is putting data at the centre and one of the main things that AI can do is turn data into information, and information can be used to gain real insights, insights that can be executed on by human beings. Unlocking the value from data is a multi-stage process and in the world of vast amounts of material, AI can help with the laser focus required to target decisions in the right way.

However, don’t (yet) think of AI as replacing complex business processes as changing them is hard, think of it as part of a wider programme that is doing organisation wide digital enablement. In these scenarios where business processes do not have flexibility, use AI to handle the data pipeline for a specific business process. AI is great at spotting patterns and making predictions, at massive scale and/or complexity.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to implementing AI, you need a strategy and to identify promising use cases. Once you have done this you need the right people & ecosystem of partners to get things moving. Buy or build both need to be able to scale, with AI you never get a second chance to make a first impression. At HPE our PointNext Services use a tried and tested method of Explore, Experiment & Evolve and have helped customers start or continue on the AI journey.

If we think about scale then look no further than Retail who are investing $3.4bn into Chatbots to take load of contact centres or product recommendations to help with buying, especially in the omni-channel world. Or Banking who are using AI to take better care of our money through automatically identifying fraud and having deep threat intelligence and investigation.

We live in a world where everything computes, everyone and everything is connected and creating and sharing data at such volumes and as such complexity that it is impossible for a human to keep up with let alone process. We are in the digital revolution which means change is a constant and expectations are at an all-time high. In this digital economy data is the new currency and gaining insight from this data is the only way to gain and keep competitive advantage. Data is changing so rapidly that is nearly impossible to create and update the rules that you need. Hence AI to the rescue!

 

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Matt Armstrong-Barnes
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author

Mattab

Matt is Chief Technologist for Artificial Intelligence in the UK&I and has a passion for helping customers understand how AI can be part of a wider digital transformation initiative.

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