MANAGEMENT
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Management

How your company can benefit from artificial intelligence

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 11:07am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 10:20pm

Let’s start with the basics: Accenture defines artificial intelligence (AI) as a collection of multiple technologies that together enable machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn, either on their own or to augment human activities. It’s happening now.

Indeed, we are seeing AI at a tipping point – quickly coming of age and beginning to mature at a much faster rate than ever before. This is because it is now possible, due to the availability of massive, inexpensive cloud-accessible computing power and low-cost storage, combined with algorithms, to sift rapidly through enormous volumes of data.

Companies need to know how to harness AI effectively. We advocate a strategic approach that is business-oriented, people-first and technology-rich

Corporate executives seem convinced of its potential – according to Accenture’s 2016 Technology Vision survey, 70 per cent of corporate executives said they are making significantly more investments in AI-related technologies than two years ago, with 55 per cent stating that they plan on using machine learning and embedded AI solutions like Amelia extensively.

Analyst firm IDC predicts that the worldwide content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software market will more than double from US$4.5 billion in 2014 to US$9.2 billion in 2019. Other observers see these systems as catalysts which will have a US$5 trillion – US$7 trillion potential economic impact by 2025.

But companies need to know how to harness AI effectively. We advocate a strategic approach that is business-oriented, people-first and technology-rich. These three principles will help businesses effectively integrate intelligent systems to improve operations and create new growth opportunities.

AI can also increase expertise by enabling analysis and offering advice and implementation support. This enables businesses to be more effective and frees managers to be more innovative.

For example, we are working with SoftBank Robotics to reimagine the future of digital customer interactions. In May, in Paris, Accenture Interactive demonstrated a new prototype based on the Pepper robot. Pepper is a humanoid robot with the ability to read emotions that was first introduced in Japan in 2014. The enhanced Pepper-based platform blends human and artificial intelligence, to deliver omni-channel customer service and commerce capabilities – including social media, mobile and in-store applications.

AI can improve efficiency in the back office when applied to routine activities based on well-defined rules, procedures and criteria

While Pepper is high-profile, not all AI work is on display. AI can improve efficiency in the back office when applied to routine activities based on well-defined rules, procedures and criteria. We have helped banks implement software robots to perform repetitive tasks, such as data re-entry. This enables employees to spend more time on higher value work.

As a manager, if you’re thinking about how AI might work for you, the first step is to figure out and assess the opportunities, identify the right long- and short-term business and technology strategies, and implement emerging solutions to realise the benefits today, including areas such as automation and advanced analytics, while setting yourself up for success in the future.

Chris Harvey is managing director of financial services for Asia-Pacific at Accenture

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