AI dubbed ‘face of innovation’

Published on the 07/07/2017 | Written by Newsdesk

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PwC report fingers AI and IoT as ‘most advanced’ emerging technologies in New Zealand…

What’s more, in its Commercialising Innovation Report, the consulting firm said some Kiwi companies are already banking the returns. However, the hype may have reached fever pitch, with a report in The Atlantic from March this year headlined ‘Artificial Intelligence has become meaningless’.

In a statement, PwC said augmented reality, 3-D printing, drones and robotics will grow in disruptive significance in the next three years, but it predicts that AI will be where the major action is. It said AI can be expected to boost the global economy by US$15.7 trillion by 2030.

“Leading the way in the AI space are Kiwi companies and innovators like Soul Machines. Their avatars could be amongst the first digital employees and are designed to work on well-known AI platforms and operate with realistic facial expressions and muscles as well as the ability to detect emotion in the person they are interacting with,” said Andy Symons, PwC partner and innovation leader.

That’s why the company said AI can quite literally become the face of innovation. Added Symons: “The avatars can provide the digital interface but as organisations increasingly look to use AI platforms to transform their businesses, data availability and data quality will become a central focus for them.”

He said there is a recipe for success, which includes having ready access to reliable data “and the ability to combine emerging technologies with good innovation capability that will actually result in something with a commercial value.”

PwC noted that building increased innovation into a company culture isn’t easy, but it’s something every organisation is going to have to focus on if they want to be future leaders.

The impact of emerging technologies can already be felt across financial services, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, government, automotive, transportation and logistics, and technology, communications and entertainment, continued Symons.

“Healthcare, government and financial services will have a stronger focus on AI. These industries have significant scale issues and they need to transform to align with customer expectations. They understand the fact that they need to take their customer service to a whole new level in a scalable, smart way,” he said.

PwC said that the emergence of robo-advice, smart metering, automation of production processes, content and product recommendations, and more automated driving assistance, are examples of AI in action today.

It added that in the longer term, people can expect highly personalised financial services products tailored to match customer preferences, robot doctors, fully automated surgery, driverless and on-demand public transport, and improved renewable energy management and higher levels of 24×7 smart customer services that empower consumers and businesses and make lives easier.

“These are just the solutions we can predict now but potential opportunities for commercialising innovation will come from areas we haven’t even thought of yet – this is the nature of disruption and the global market that companies now operate in,” said Symons.

And if this is a brave new world, there is advice from the consultancy on what to do about it, from a corporate leadership perspective: ‘The role of business leaders is to remain focused on their enterprise strategy, to work through what AI might mean for them and their customers, and what talent and culture they will need to experiment in a fast, dynamic and cost-effective way so that they can deliver on the potential that AI brings’.

“Smart organisations are already experimenting with incorporating AI driven solutions and propositions into their organisations. The successful ones will have a strong sense of their enterprise strategy and therefore how emerging technologies, including AI, will feed into the customer problems that they want to solve,” added Symons.

But let’s peg the hype back a notch, and leave the last word on AI to Allison Parrish, quoted in that The Atlantic article : “Whenever someone says ‘AI’ what they’re really talking about is ‘a computer program someone wrote.”

Access PwC’s Commercialising Innovation Report.

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