14 February, 2017
Building The Predictive Enterprise: What CIOs Should Tell CEOs About A.I.
Artificial intelligence is a powerful technology that can turn your organization into a predictive enterprise. But CIOs need to work with their CEOs to clarify the business case for A.I. instead of rushing headlong into the A.I. revolution.
By now we have all heard the buzz. Siri has plenty of company. Alexa and Google have invaded the home. Tesla’s artificial intelligence is, well, driving itself. Google’s Deep Mind is running the company’s multi-billion-dollar search business. Even they don’t know how it works — it just does. IBM’s Watson has its own office and is predicting cancer treatments for real patients. You can’t even date online without artificial intelligence (A.I.) hooking you up.
There are even A.I.-based autonomous ships, bots, games and investment and commerce platforms that are emerging. Eventually A.I. will be everywhere. Are you ready for the A.I. revolution? Of course, the answer is no one is ready, because this is only A.I. 1.0 — the beginning of time. So let’s review.
Artificial intelligence has finally emerged, and the prospects for it transforming the enterprise are excellent. Every enterprise should be looking at what blend of A.I. they want to investigate. From machine learning to neural nets, recommendation engines and decision bots — the landscape of the marketplace is full of choices. The real question I would pose is, “What should CIOs be telling their CEOs about the A.I. revolution?” The answer: “Show me the business strategy.”
I would challenge CIOs to work out the strategy question first. What is the business strategy that would benefit and even justify adding artificial intelligence? How could we generate a competitive advantage from investing in machine learning or automated decision support that A.I. could offer? There needs to be a business value or competitive advantage that investing in A.I. makes clear. If not, then you are not ready. Or don’t invest much until you can answer this strategic question.
Too many companies are so impressed with A.I. buzz that they are moving headlong into A.I. without clarifying what the business strategy case could be. Are we going to be able to generate better customer service? Help employees make better decisions? Enable our customer to use more of our products or services? How about fix that problem that those pesky humans don’t seem to be able to handle? How will we be able to monetize artificial intelligence?
The A.I. revolution is being accelerated by the advances recently by a number of companies that are collectively spending many millions on this technology. Facebook, Google, IBM, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are just a few of the companies that have had breakthroughs in creating the beginning of thinking systems that do your work for you. Spending on A.I. has dwarfed spending on drones. Everyone wants an A.I. strategy. Ford just licensed Amazon’s Alexa for its autos. Even Tesla uses the Nvidia chip to get its smarts on.