13th June, 2019
There sure is a lot of hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, but that should be the first red flag warning you to go cautiously when making investment decisions. The second is this article, by David Weickhardt.
Artificial Intelligence is hot.
In fact, it’s so hot right now that not a day goes by without the announcement of a new AI application.
While this sends a clear message that intelligent tech has an important role to play in our future society, before every brand starts throwing good money at some sort of AI function, it pays to note that investing in AI for the sake of it is a disaster waiting to happen.
Because I hate to break it to you, but AI is not as ‘sexy’ as everybody thinks. And seeing it as sexy is a bit like applauding the Emerald City of Oz without acknowledging the man behind the curtain.
It’s not giving credit where the credit is really due, which is firmly at the feet of the data needed to make AI the shiny, sought-after thing it’s become.
The impact of AI is truly here.
A recent Gartner report showed enterprise adoption of AI has grown 270 per cent over the last four years, with take up tripling this last year alone. Those are some exciting numbers, but adoption and effectiveness are two very separate things.
The thing that makes AI effective is the data behind it. Without an intelligent source of information and a robust framework to help steer it, an AI application can very quickly descend from positive to pain.
A classic example of this is Microsoft’s Twitter-based AI chatbot, Tay. The intention was to better understand millennial female conversation, but in less than a day Tay had gone rogue, with content covering off everything from expletives to sexism to racism and beyond. Tay learned from the data she was consuming, and the base data was corrupt.
So, we need to feed our AI good, healthy data – that’s a given. But beyond that, AI has to have a positive purpose, which needs to start with the customer need at heart.
At MYOB, we’ve seen how AI will support and even eliminate many processes that accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses go through today. That’s a good thing. It takes away hours spent on menial tasks to free up time for the things businesses are passionate about – that is, delivering products and services to their customers.
I think it’s fair to say that a lot of businesses have a long way to go before they really understand what AI is. And while AI systems can excel at all kinds of things, it’s crucial that businesses look to implement AI solutions that successfully augment existing data to create valuable efficiencies for a business and their customers – not just because it’s cool to have a chatbot or two.
AI is the hot new plaything and when it’s done well, it’s brilliant. But when it’s done badly, it becomes a thorn in a business’ side.
My advice is to start with an old truth in mind: your customers’ needs should be central to any innovation. If you remember that, you can’t go wrong.