Article | March 20, 2020
RPA or Robotics Process Automation is one of the most significant technologies in current time. Its ability to automate tedious and mundane tasks has transformed numerous business operations. The market reports have observed that the global RPA market size was valued at US$ 1.1 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow with a CAGR of 33.6 percent from 2020 to 2027. Analyzing its accelerating market several organizations are adopting the technology to offer better and enhanced services. Some prominent participants and key players in the market including Blue Prism, UiPath, Automation Anywhere and significant others are catering to a large set of business-audience with their innovative and sophisticated solutions for automation of back-office processes
Article | March 20, 2020
According to a Gartner survey, 48% of global CIOs will deploy AI by the end of 2020. However, despite all the optimism around AI and ML, I continue to be a little skeptical. In the near future, I don’t foresee any real inventions that will lead to seismic shifts in productivity and the standard of living. Businesses waiting for major disruption in the AI/ML landscape will miss the smaller developments. Here are some trends that may be going unnoticed at the moment but will have big long-term impacts
Article | March 20, 2020
Expert cites machine learning advancements creating immediate, actionable value to drive data literacy, elevate cognitive insights and increase profitability in kind.
In today’s tumultuous business-scape amid increasingly intricate, and often vexing, marketplace conditions, curating and mining data to drive analytics-based decision making is just no longer enough. For competing with maximum, sustained impact and mitigated opportunity loss, it’s rapidly monetizing data that’s now the name of the game—particularly when spurred by artificial intelligence (AI). Indeed, emerging AI methodologies are helping forward-thinking companies achieve and sustain true agility, fuel growth and compete far more aggressively than ever before.
AI is critical as a means toward those ends and also certainly with respect to aptly predicting, preparing and responding to prospective crises as with the COVID-19 pandemic the globe is currently immersed in. In fact, Gartner recently cited the need for “smarter, faster, more responsible AI” as its No. 1 top trend that data and analytics leaders should focus on—particularly those looking to “make essential investments to prepare for a post-pandemic reset.” Novel coronavirus matters aside, Gartner underscored just how impactful AI will become, predicting that, “by the end of 2024, 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI, driving a 5X increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures.”
“To innovate their way beyond the post-COVID-19 world, data and analytics leaders require an ever-increasing velocity and scale of analysis in terms of processing and access to succeed in the face of unprecedented market shifts,” said Rita Sallam, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner.
However, employing AI techniques like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to glean insights and render projections is simply no longer “enough” to get the job done—especially for organizations seeking to compete efficiently on a national, multi-national or global scale. Today’s organizations must endeavor toward a culture of AI-driven data literacy that directly and positively influences their top and bottom lines.
“To help data monetization-minded enterprises better future-proof their operations and asset-amplify their data value chain, there are a few key ways to implement and elevate machine intelligence so that it’s far smarter, faster and more accountable than protocols past,” said Microsoft alum Irfan Khan, founder and CEO of CLOUDSUFI—an AI solutions firm automating data supply chains to propel and actualize data monetization.
Below, Khan details five benefits of leveraging AI data-driven insights and technology in a way that will create actual and actionable value right now—the kind of insights that enable new and evolved business models and empower companies to increase both revenue and profitability.
Manifesting new market opportunities
Today’s machine learning capabilities allow people to sift through data that previously could not be accessed, all at speeds faster than ever before. Present technology offers the opportunity to wholly analyze image, spoken or written inputs rather than just numerical, helping companies better find connections across these diverse data sets. This generates and maximizes value in a number of ways. Relative to the bottom and top lines, not only can it significantly reduce expenses, but it can also create new market opportunities. With COVID-19 as one recent example, algorithms speedily sifted through an extraordinary amount of data to identify diseases and potential cures that presented as similar, which allowed those methodologies to be readily tested against the coronavirus.
Machine learning advancements also help companies better monetize their data and establish new revenue streams. In the above example, of course patient information would not be shared or sold in any way, but other highly valuable data points can be gleaned. This includes determining that a certain drug is only effective on woman between certain ages—critical insights for pharmaceutical developers and physicians.
Emerging AI data processing protocols are far more rapid than prior iterations of machine learning technology, as are the resulting solutions, discoveries and profit-producing results thereof.
Reconcile emotions with actualities
Data generates value, which leads to the generation of money. It’s that simple. Previously, it was difficult, if not humanly impossible, to sift through mass amounts of data and pinpoint relationships. There existed very rudimentary tools like regression and correlation, but today’s analytics call for gaining a true understanding of what extracted data actually means. How do you convert data into a story you can actually tell? Often, decisions are made based on emotional foundations. Leaders are using data to either validate their gut or disagree with their instincts. Now, they are getting quicker insights that decisively validate or invalidate their thinking, while also prompting them to ask new questions. So, garnering meaning out of a company’s own data provides tremendous advantages.
“Human nature is such that unless we can see it touch it feel it, it’s hard to understand it,” Khan says. “We as data scientists haven’t done a really great job of explaining AI-driven data technology in simple terms. Telling a story with data or demonstrating actual results is where real power and understanding lies.”
Scale statistical models for actionable models
We often separate our data as factuals, asserting “this is what happened.” Neural networks connect the “human decision-making process” to those factuals—a simulation practice that helps us make better decisions. Previously, we would look at data sets like demographics, customer behaviors and such in silos. But when these multiple data sets are connected, it becomes quite evident that no two humans—or customers—are exactly alike.
Technology is now allowing us to understand trends on a factual level and then project outward. In the health realm, some companies are using this key learning to project whether or not a person is likely to suffer a certain affliction. It’s also allowing for far more efficacious “if this then what?” scenarios. If a diabetic person takes insulin controls, then their diet the treatment protocol will change. This is enabling highly personalized medicine. But the same processes, principles and benefits hold true in non-health categories as well—encompassing all industries, across the board.
Future-proof, anti-fragile data supply chains
From data connectors to pipelines; data lakes to statistical models; AI to Quantum; visual storyboards to data driven automation; ML to NLP to Neural Networks and more, there are highly effective methods for future-proofing your data value chain. The data supply chain is quite complex and, to make it future-proof and non-fragile, it requires thoughtful processing from the point of creation to the point of consumption of actionable insights.
It starts with data acquisition—garnering a wide variety and volume of data from a number of internal and external sources where data is being generated by the millisecond. Once the data is identified and ingested, it needs to brought to a central point where it can be explored, cleansed, transformed, augmented and enriched and finally modelled for use toward a purpose. Then comes statistical and heuristic modeling. These models can be of different types using different algorithms yielding different levels of accuracy in different scenarios. Models then need to be tuned and provided and environment for continuous feedback, learning and monitoring. Finally, is the visualization of outcomes—an explanation demonstrated by drawing cause-effect relationships that highlight where the most impact happens. This leads to a conclusion on how a set of problems can be solved or opportunities uncovered.
“Most organizations have some data and drive different levels of business process improvement and strategic decisions with it,” Khan notes. “However, few use data to the fullest. The right approach to data valuation and monetization can uncover limitless possibilities, including customer centricity, operational efficiency, competitive advantage, strategic partnerships, efficient operations, improved profitability and new revenue streams.”
Up to now, we have been able to write algorithms, generate immense amounts of numerical or written data and make sense of it. However, there is a significant amount of data that comes as images or voice, which has not been easy to process and manage until recent developments. The applications for the processing of visual and auditory inputs are endless. In fact, retail and finance industries have been early adopters of this technology—and with good reason. They’ve seen costs go down, engagement go up, sales increase and benefitted from other highly substantial points of monetization.
Now, a large department store can digitize their video data every night and determine that “X” amount of people saw “X” number of jeans, but they had to walk further to get to it. As a result, the department store can put those items closer to the door and walkways to determine if sales increase in kind.
Even the education realm is tapping AI-driven data. The technology is tracking retina movement to discern if kids are engaged amid the remote learning paradigm ushered in by the pandemic. They’re exploring how to measure the retina to determine whether or not a child is actually engaged in the lesson.
In radiology, they are starting to convert visual data and track it to gain a deeper understanding of digital images and video. MRIs are better able to track brain tumors—whether they are growing or shrinking and at what rate and if they are getting darker or lighter in terms of the regions. This kind of AI-driven learning is helping doctors better detect cancer and treat it more rapidly. Video data processing of the human eye can also be used to determine if a person is drunk, fatigued or even has a disease. Voice machine learning has also keenly evolved. Originally, voice recognition was being utilized to discern if a person was actually suicidal, which could be accurately predicted by inflection points in a person’s voice. Now, if that person can be captured on video, it is deemed to be about 20 times more accurate.
“All of this possibly had previously demanded a hefty price tag using systems and solutions of yore,” Khan notes. “Today, integrating multiple processes across hybrid multi-cloud environments has made data processing and analytics much more accessible and outsourceable. This negates the need for companies to purchase cost-prohibitive servers and other machine hardware.”
As one of the world's leading experts on building transparency into supply chains, Khan doesn’t just talk the talk, he’s walked the walk. As a revered marketplace change agent, he’s known for driving business transformation and customer-centric turnaround growth strategies in a multitude of environments. In addition to engineering partnerships with MIT, Khan has successfully led organizational changes and process improvement in markets across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia.
“New AI solutions and trends will eliminate patchwork processes that cause data, and interpretations thereof, to get lost in translation or, even worse, remain entirely undiscovered,” Khan says. “Next-Gen platforms are solving such problems by executing all functions required to create and govern AI products— single-source systems that pull data, transform, model, tunes and recommend actions with cause-effect transparency.”
For niche players, today’s leading-edge AI technology also aptly provides for vertical industry specialization. “Emerging solutions enable common data models, compliance and interoperability requirements that, in turn, accelerate model validation, refinement and implementation that’s specific to a given sector or marketplace,” notes Khan. “All of this ultimately drives speed to insights on previously unsolved problems, which reveals untapped opportunities and automates workflow integrated cognitive solutions.”
“Overall, AI is ushering in a new and more sophisticated era of data literacy,” he continues. “It’s a new paradigm founded on automated, comprehensive and holistic data discovery, which is fostering elevated cognitive insights and actionable strategies that positively impact the top and bottom line.”
Perhaps the future mandate for AI should not only focus on becoming smarter, faster and more accountable than predecessors, but actually bridge the gap between human intuition and data-backed decisions. Doing so will assuredly advance an organization’s ability to transact with utmost trust.
Article | March 20, 2020
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives including the way we do business. In fact, according to a recent survey by McKinsey, COVID has accelerated companies’ digital transformation journeys.
In a post-COVID world, there will be an even-greater acceleration of AI adoption by enterprises. AI business applications will be centered around automating tasks, forecasting supply disruptions, and enhancing customer behavioral analytics. There will be a rise in industry and sector specific AI applications where business domain knowledge and business content data are the main differentiators. However, increases in AI adoption rates do not necessarily translate into higher success rates. To avoid failure, business executives need to develop robust AI strategies and metrics, enhance data quality, and focus on AI integration and governance.
Key trends and applications for 2021 and beyond are as follows:
AI and Healthcare
Artificial intelligence played a crucial role in the detection of COVID-19. Indeed, we have seen the emergence of the use of AI at hospitals to evaluate chest CT scans. With the use of deep learning and image recognition, COVID patients could be diagnosed thus enabling the medical team to follow the necessary protocols. Another important application was the triage of COVID-19. Once a patient has been diagnosed with COVID, AI has been used to predict the likely severity of the illness so the medical staff can prioritize resources and treatments.
In a post-COVID world, we will see increased use of AI in detection of illnesses, triage of patients, and drug discovery. According to a recent market research reported by PRnewswire, the market size for global healthcare IT is expected to reach $270 billion by 2020. The increase will be driven by COVID-19, government policies, and the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data.
AI and Supply Chains
Coronavirus has highlighted the need to re-think traditional supply chain models. There will be an increase in the use of technology such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and 5G to make supply chains more efficient.
Artificial intelligence applications will focus on improving end to end visibility, analyzing data to detect anomalies, and forecasting supply and demand outlooks thus making supply chains more resilient.
AI and Retail
The pandemic has changed what and how consumers buy, with retailers forced to grow their online presence. E-commerce has been put at the forefront: in the first six months of 2020 consumer spending with US retailers increased by about a third compared for the same period in 2019 according to Digitalcommerce360.
According to new market research reported by PRnewswire, AI in retail will be worth about $20 billion by 2027. When it comes to retail and ecommerce, we can find AI applications in several areas including customers analytics for product recommendations, targeted marketing, and price optimizations.
For the latter, AI is applied to analyze patterns and data on customer profiles, their purchase power, product specification, timing of purchase, and what the competition is offering. The outcome of the analysis will set the pricing strategy. Several companies use AI to set their pricing strategy on a frequent basis, for example Amazon’s average product’s cost changes about every 10 minutes according to Business Insider source.
AI and Intelligent autonomous agents
COVID has highlighted the need to deploy intelligent autonomous agents that cannot catch diseases to fight against the pandemic. We have seen both robots used at hospitals to diagnose COVID-19 patients and drones deployed to monitor if the public is adhering to social distancing rules.
An ABI research showed that mobile robotics applications market size will increase to $23 billion by 2021. This increase is mainly due to applications that disinfect, monitor, and deliver materials.
The integration of AI with drone technology and robotics will create new application opportunities and will make them mainstreamed across several sectors.
AI and Education
Education is another sector that was badly hit by COVID. According to Unicef more than 1 billion children are at risk of falling behind due to school closures. The pandemic has highlighted the need for educators to adopt digital solutions to minimize learning vulnerabilities across the globe.
AI application in education will mainly focus on personalized learning where the technology is used to design and tailor training materials that matches the student’s ability and learning preferences. Other applications include the deployment of voice assistants to interact with educational material and the use of AI to support teachers in administrative tasks.
AI and Digital Twins
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital twin technology. Digital twins are replicas of physical assets such as cities, offices, and factories. This technology became crucial in testing pandemic scenarios and emergency plans.
Digital twins technology is expected to reach a global spend level of about $13 billion by 2023 fueled by AI and machine learning according to Juniper Research.
When integrated with artificial intelligence and IoT, digital twin technology becomes very powerful when trying to test scenarios and predict bottlenecks, breakdowns, and productivity.
AI and Ethics
Over the last year, we had several prominent examples of AI ethics issues. The first example relates to facial recognition: after several calls against mass surveillance, racial profiling and bias, and in light of Black Lives Matter movement starting in the United States, several tech companies such as Microsoft banned the police from using its facial recognition technology. The second example relates to the use of an algorithm to predict exam results during COVID-19 period: after accusations and protests that the controversial algorithm was biased against students from poorer backgrounds, the United Kingdom government was forced to ditch the algorithm.
In the absence of regulations and tightened frameworks, ethics will continue to be the main concerns surrounding the use of artificial intelligence.