I have moderated a roundtable for Digital Enterprise Transformation Assembly, held in Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Miami, FL, on June 21. The event’s website is https://event.mill-all.com/digital-enterprise-transformation-8/
About 20 people attended the roundtable titled “How AI Impacts Your Organization.“ Three conclusions were reached:
– AI is dramatically transforming current business practice and will continue to do so in the future.
– All sectors can find exciting and affective AI applications.
– The steep learning curve for properly applying AI is slowing the revolution.
The discussion began with COIs sharing AI successful stories from their organizations, including the entertainment, insurance, banking, retail, automobile, real state, and other sectors. Among those stories, an intriguing one was Fareway Stores, which is using AI to predict when and what should be restocked based on the customer behavior in its stores. Applications discussed ranged from chat bot, customer behavior understanding and prediction, to insurance risk assessment. AI applications are no longer limited to analytics; they have moved from assistance roles to centerpieces of businesses.
After a good 20 minutes of pleasant and upbeat dissuasion, I directed the discussion to identifying challenges they are facing in using AI in their business as COI/CTOs. Although top-level executives (CEO/CTO/CIO) in the organizations were positive about using AI, there are plenty mid-level managers preferred to trust their “gut feelings” over AI’s results, and technical people who are used to programming with “if/else” may refuse to change. Also discussed were in-house training, collaborating with universities, co-ops, and internships, which can work if existing employees are motivated, but the learning curve is steep. Another related issue is hiring, as it is challenging to hire talented AI people, which makes in-house, cutting-edge AI algorithm development difficult for small and mid-size companies whose main business is not AI. If they do not have significant concerns about the security of their data, these companies usually outsource their AI demands to AI technology providers, thus saving cost and allowing quick deployment; however, they may lose faith easily of the AI software since they may not have enough understanding of the AI software’s behaviors. There is also concern over if they are using the AI software right on their keep-changing data.
The next discussion was the future of AI in the next five years. All attendees had an optimal view of the future of AI in their business and could see AI and robotics taking over the majority of their day-to-day operations, and they are comfortable with that. Ordering and restocking will be fully automated based on the prediction of sales. Finance advisors will have AI advisors that can provide good financial suggestions. Credit scores will not be as important as social behavior and spending patterns. Business deals will be made by AI. The art of deal will be replaced by the power of AI. The development of AI, especially autonomous driving, will bring new ways of thinking. For example, if autonomous driving is safer than human driving, people who insist on driving their non-autonomous cars would have to pay higher insurance premiums than people who ride in autonomous cars. However, it was noted that eliminating human drivers probably will not become a reality in 5 years, as it took 50 years to eliminate human elevator operators.
Before the end, I raised several points that had not been brought up in the discussion. It is important to keep all data if possible and it does not violate regulations. It is also important to use balanced and relevant data (in terms of time and scenarios). Human+AI will be the way to go for a long time. The quality of the human and AI elements are both very important, as AI requires human supervision. Although some AI algorithms are “black box,” they can be trusted as long as they are predictable. Finally, organizations should treat AI technologies and robots the same as employees—if you do not trust them, replace them.