Embracing AI for Growth

Bala Mahadeva – CEO, Orange Business Services (India)

Industries thrive on Innovation. In an increasingly competitive world, business and technology executives are increasingly looking towards technological solutions to overcome challenges, and enterprise-scale adoption of Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are increasingly becoming a priority for the business.  Chatbots, one of the earliest forms of AI intervention in industrial applications, have fundamentally changed the customer service experience. As per the 2020 AI prediction report by PwC, 90% of executives believe that AI offers more opportunities than risks, and nearly half are expecting AI to disrupt either their geographical markets, the sectors in which they operate, or both.

Artificial intelligence is a process that makes it possible for machines to think. From imitating human cognitive capabilities to opening new perspectives for individuals, the positive collaboration between man and machine, made possible by the advancement in AI, has opened doors to both social and industrial transformation. According to PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey 2019, 69% of CEOs in India strongly believe that “AI will have a larger impact on the world than the Internet revolution”. Besides, 86% foresee a significant change in the way they do business in the next five years, thanks to the growing influence of AI. But, the most pertinent question remains- What’s the real value of AI for business and how should one capitalise?

Over the years, AI solutions have shown the potential to transform areas as diverse and critical as education, healthcare, finance, mobility, and energy − promising to help accelerate progress. Yet, most of the enterprise sectors still lack the groundwork for a realistic AI-powered future. But, majority of enterprises are today faced with challenges on their paths to embrace AI across the business. In addition to the traditional challenges of financial constraints (budgets), skills and data availability for the adoption of AI at scale, Indian enterprises face unique challenges ranging from limited understanding, lack of clarity and no formal approach to implement and extract value from AI-based solutions.

AI today offers a huge landscape of opportunity for enterprises to transform customer experiences, internal business processes and make IT systems more resilient. Underpinning all this, effective data management is key. Data is critical to success or failure with AI. Committing thoroughly to the application of AI means devoting more attention to improving data quality. That means preparing data more effectively and ensuring the companywide data governance systems and centralized data lakes are in place.

It’s impossible to create output from an AI framework without the right data inputs. Data and AI are critical to enabling companies to make good decisions about their products, services, employees, and strategy. Considering this, business leaders need to ask themselves: Are there large amounts of accessible data, relevant to the business problem to be solved or opportunity that needs to be explored? How clean is this data, how frequently is it collected, and by which routes can it be made accessible to team members?

In today’s digital economy, every business is in the software business. Slow running cloud applications impact employee productivity, customer satisfaction and ultimately hits the bottom line. The increasing use of real-time data analytics and AI is creating a path towards the self-healing and self-optimizing network. Moreover, for a company of any scale, keeping an eye on increasingly complex digital systems takes a lot of effort. Intelligent monitoring overcomes this problem by analyzing the connections between the IT infrastructure and network and how they underpin applications. Capital-intensive sectors such as manufacturing and transport are likely to see the largest productivity gains from AI, given that many of their operational processes are highly susceptible to automation.

AI is also vital in the fight against cybercrime. Legacy approaches to cybersecurity – which rely on knowledge of past attacks – are simply not enough to combat new, evolving quickly enough. Security analysts in enterprises today face exceptionally high volumes of attack. Cybercriminals are starting to use AI bots to mine data to identify and extract sensitive IP or pinpoint the areas of weakness in an enterprise and carry out a series of rapidly coordinated attacks.

It’s important to consider the impact of the lengthy delays that occur between enterprises being attacked, the breach being discovered and then resolved. The Ponemon Institute reported last year— it took a typical enterprise 97 days to discover a breach and 69 days to contain a data breach on average. On average, 35,636 records were compromised in a data breach in India – which ranked 15th in terms of the total cost of the breach. Therefore, a fundamentally new approach that incorporates AI intelligence to strengthen cyberdefense is needed to detect and respond to threats that are already inside the network – before they turn into a full-blown crisis.

As technology increasingly disrupts the nature of jobs and shifts the benchmarks of technological aptitude, skilling and reskilling of workforce forms an integral part of an enterprise approach to adopting AI. There is an emergent need for reskilling the existing workforce and developing future talent in accordance with the changing needs of the job market.  Every business will soon be an intelligent business in the same way every enterprise is a digital enterprise. If they don’t become intelligent, they will simply cease to exist. This makes it vital to empower the creativity of knowledge workers in the smart enterprise.

AI can be effectively used to assist and augment humans, not replace them. AI is great at solving specific, well-defined problems and an effective way for enterprises to optimize their work operations, better align their workforce and most importantly take advantage of the data to always stay ahead of the curve. As with every technology, AI has witnessed a fair share of criticism, but industries today are much better placed to balance the risks and reap the benefits of emerging technologies.

Authored by Bala Mahadeva, CEO, Orange Business Services (India)


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