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Artificial intelligence. Go for a pragmatic approach

If there is one term in vogue in ICT these days, it has to be AI or artificial intelligence. According to Gartner, AI’s adoption rate has increased from 4% in 2018 to 14% in 2019. But still, AI covers many realities. It is therefore important to focus on technologies that offer the biggest potential or return on investment.

According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2019, there are as many as 37 (!) emerging AI technologies. Some of them are still on the technological breakthrough curve. A majority has passed the peak of the hype cycle, but only two have already reached the maturity stage: GPU acceleration (Graphical Processing Unit, especially for studying neural networks) and voice recognition.

Five basic trends

Five major technologies, Gartner states, should be of interest to the CIO and the board of a company.

Augmented intelligence brings together a set of solutions focused on the individual, meant to improve teamwork, reduce errors and relieve repetitive and time-consuming tasks. The ultimate goal is to have more efficient and productive employees. Chatbots or conversational agents will impact all activities where interaction with a human is essential. Chatbots can be based on voice, text, or both, and rely on responses in the form of scripts. They can be used in human resources, helpdesks or self-service applications, as well as in customer service.

Another widely established technology is machine learning, designed to solve business problems by enabling the understanding of trends, the prediction of market developments or the anticipation of maintenance operations. It should be noted, however, that Gartner already considers ML to be in the phase of ‘disillusionment’, justifying its position only by the misuse of technology. The governance of AI – rather a trend than a technology – brings together reflections on the ethics of AI as well as the measures to be put in place to avoid bias, discrimination and other negative implications related to the inappropriate use of AI. Finally, Gartner defines a category of intelligent business applications that are improved by some form of intelligence, such as Office 365, ERP and CRM solutions, analytics applications, and more.

Beyond these basic trends, other types of AI are gradually on the rise in companies. This is the case with deep learning for image and voice recognition and classification, or for reinforcement learning, in which case systems learn automatically by trial and error.

Adoption rate
According to a study by KPMG International and HFS Research, only 20 to 30% of organizations worldwide have decided not to invest in AI or have no plans to do so. By contrast, two-thirds of companies already explore the possibilities offered by AI technology, while 17% claim they have already carried out large-scale AI deployments. In addition, 36% have launched pilot projects or are in the deployment phase, mainly in the areas of intelligent analytics and process automation through robotics.

In its Global CEO Survey, consulting company PwC estimates that 85% of CEOs of large companies agree that AI will fundamentally change the way business is done in the next five years. According to PwC, 39% of European companies have launched AI initiatives, while 6% have already introduced the technology on a large scale and 4% believe that AI is fundamental to their activities.

Finally, according to a study published by Microsoft and EY last summer, 90% of Belgian companies’ boards consider AI an important matter. In addition, 86% believe that AI will optimize their operations and 71% say that it will transform their products and services. 71% think AI will help them attract new clients and 62% are convinced AI will help their employees to work more efficiently. In addition, 76% use AI for predictions (for example, ‘which client is likely to leave’), compared to 62% for intelligent automation (mainly logistics) and 62% for sales analytics (including product demand forecasts). Finally, 38% use AI to improve customer experience (using chatbots) or customer service.

Partner
To help choose the AI technology that is most appropriate and that offers the best return on investment, a company is interested in working with a reliable and experienced partner. Aprico Consultants is a consulting firm specializing in architecture and information systems transformation. By accelerating digital transformation processes, we provide our customers with the flexibility, performance and competitiveness they need to strengthen their position in the market. Aprico Consultants works closely together with customers to translate their strategy, objectives and constraints into pragmatic transformation programs that deliver real added value and proven return on investment. For more information: marketing@aprico-consult.com