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AI is the latest “fashion” in enterprise tech, with widespread usage a year away

Scott Carey | May 9, 2016
Is the enterprise really ready for artificial intelligence?

A day spent at the inaugural AI Summit in London last week highlighted the inherent contradiction when it comes to artificial intelligence and the enterprise: AI has been on the industry's radar for decades, yet businesses aren't ready to deploy the technology just yet.

Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London said that artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest fashion in an industry that is known for them: "Larry Ellison famously said that there is nothing more fashion led than the IT industry. We can see AI as a new fashion, rebadging a load of old ideas, but essentially technology has always been about adding value to an organisation."

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David Schatsky, head of the trend-sensing program for the US innovation team at Deloitte is a little more positive, saying: "I have looked at literally hundreds of examples of organisations in every industry that have applied or are piloting cognitive technologies in some way. We've found that you can classify everything into one of these three buckets of applications: product, process and insight."

Use cases

Schatsky broke down all three, starting with product: "By this I mean embedding cognitive [computing] into a product or a service that touches a customer and delivers some sort of benefit." Product recommendations from Amazon are an example of this.

Process: "This involves applying these technologies inside an organisation to automate some process to make it faster, more scalable, more cost effective." Schatsky gave an example of an internal deployment at Deloitte where they developed a document review application which uses natural language processing and machine learning to recognise key terms.

Insight: "This is about extracting insight from vast unstructured data sets that are beyond the capability of traditional analytics. Intel uses a machine learning system to analyse its customer's buying behaviour and to recommend to its human sales force who to call and when, to help them close business." According to Schatsky: "Intel says that just this one application, they feel, would generate $20m of revenue by making their sales people more efficient."

Usage examples

In terms of use cases from the summit itself, most companies said they are still in the phase of considering or piloting AI solutions.

Jonathan Catling, director global data architecture at the hotel and casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corporation said that: "AI has been so far from my memory I can't remember the last time I looked at neural networks. But when I started to look into it a bit deeper AI is the next thing."

Catling spoke about a customer ordering room service though a Facebook-native chatbot installed on a tablet in the room or through your smartphone. He says: "I was talking about chatbots two years ago, now I am looking at using them and getting a proof of concept."


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