MARKET | Nov 7, 2017

Artificial Intelligence: why, where and above all how is it implemented?

A Capgemini research study highlights the opportunities for AI and the roadmap to introduce it to the company

When it comes to talking about artificial intelligence there is no lack of fictional, hyperbolic and sometimes disturbing scenarios. Wishing to get back to reality and see the opportunities for application of AI within companies, Capgemini carried out research on “Turning AI into concrete value: the successful implementors’ toolkit”, a type of how to on ways of deriving benefits from introducing artificial intelligence to business processes.

“Companies – reads the introductory phrase of the report that involved 993 companies from different sectors and countries, including Italy – have understood the benefits of AI but now they have to understand how and where to invest.”

If you want to refresh benefits, those interviewed identified four: a 10% increase in sales of new products and services for 3 firms out of 4; greater operational efficiency (78%); better analytical skills (79%) and increased user satisfaction (75%). Unlike the common belief that associates artificial intelligence with the word ‘robot’ and loss of creativity, 74% of respondents believed that introduction of this technology led to an increase in the creative capacity of staff. According to Ericsson’s George Sarmonikas, by automating repetitive tasks, Artificial Intelligence in fact frees up engineers, designers and staff in general, allowing them to dedicate themselves to activities where human creativity is indispensable.

Will artificial intelligence lead to a cut in jobs?

According to the Capgemini report, the introduction of the AI ​​to the company will lead to an increase in new jobs in the long run. In fact, 4 out of 5 respondents said that artificial intelligence has created new roles in their organizations. Many of these roles require experience and refer mostly to managerial (41%), executive (19%) and coordination (18%) positions. That’s to say that when the demand for work changes, the skills required change but the person has a key role to play even if AI is adopted.

As stated by Mohammed Marikar, director of the Canadian Royal Bank, in advanced management systems everything is approached with what is called common sense and that needs human direction. For 63% of companies, there are no adverse effects on work, just as there are no staff reductions to be attributed to the automation of some sectors; obviously, there is a strong need to accompany change with staff training, as 71% of respondents said.

With regard to coexistence between AI and human resources, as noted in the report, 86% of respondents believed that this can increase productivity as well as simplify work (89%).

Where and how is artificial intelligence spread?

According to the report, AI ​​is introduced today through small pilot experiences and test projects that are then implemented on a large scale. The sectors where this step has already taken place are: telecommunications (49%), trade (41%), banking (36%), services (34%), insurance (31%), automotive (26%) and manufacturing (20%).

The report says that the geographic location of “artificially intelligent” companies is concentrated in India (58%), Australia (49%), Italy (44%) and Germany (42%).

The roadmap for introducing AI to the company

What steps are needed to accompany change and govern best for automating intelligently? The report indicates the following:

1. Identify a person who manages the process. As in all projects, this also requires a person who can coordinate activities: the person indicated in the report is the CXO (Chief eXperience Officer) who ought to work with the CEO. According to the report, 37% of respondents had identified such a person in the company when they decided to approach AI.

2. Have clear and structured governance. Only structured change management can lead to the benefits expected from introducing artificial intelligence to the company. The difference between those who have done it and those who approached it in an unorganized way showed a 10-17% less positive results.

3. Gain the trust of employees and support them by mitigating their concerns. Cultural resistance to projects such as these are natural: 61% of firms, in fact, believed that employees feel threatened by the introduction of AI, fearing loss of their jobs. Open communication and sharing of the steps necessary for the project contribute to increasing trust and breaking resistance to change.

4. Train staff to take full advantage of AI opportunities. Building a team of experts able to manage and implement the project in the company is a real resource for 64% of respondents. At the same time as training, it is important to identify indicators to be monitored for analyzing the benefits obtained.

5. Take testing forward quickly and scale. According to Capgemini research, identifying the right use case in the company and scaling are among the keys to success. Testing methods can go from incubating the project to an in-house innovation lab or center of business excellence, working with the startup ecosystem, or relying on technology partners to build an innovative network.

That artificial intelligence equals opportunities is clear for companies. All that remains is to find a path that accompanies the transformation.

Sonia Montegiove