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The era of Artificial Intelligence is here, but companies must combine this technology with business expertise

To fully maximise the benefits of big data and AI, there are a number of top tips for the C-suite to follow.

By James Nunns

As big data and machine learning gradually become intertwined within business processes, business leaders now believe that the artificial intelligence (AI) era is officially upon them.

AI is dependent on large volumes of data, and it gets gradually smarter as it receives more information. As businesses and consumers alike generate data at an accelerated pace, this bodes well for AI’s ability to support fully informed analysis, assessment and prediction. With this in mind, organisations need to prepare themselves for an entirely different future, and make dramatic adjustments to the ways in which they work.

At present, AI and big data technologies have a bit of a PR problem; these technological innovations are viewed by some through a narrow lens of how they can cut operational costs and reduce the number of workers needed. It’s a highly limited point of view, as these technologies – AI in particular – can fundamentally increase a business’ productivity and output. They can help employees to refine their skills and focus on tasks that offer more business value. In order to reap these benefits, businesses must combine expertise and insight. In turn, this can provide intelligence that informs business strategy, and help the C-suite to answer the big business and organisational questions.

To fully maximise the benefits of big data and AI, there are a number of top tips for the C-suite to follow.

Refreshing business processes

Let’s consider a typical back office scenario: introducing automation for the sake of automation is almost wasteful. The first step therefore should be to improve the process flow which will help in identifying the best prospects for automation. The vast volumes of transactions a finance or procurement function undertakes in a year provide an ideal base for a learning system.

Incorporating AI into business processes requires companies to review them, and determine which processes and functions stand to benefit from these solutions. A change management procedure must be put in place, employees will have to be trained, and some processes will need to be entirely adjusted.

A flexible approach

With new technologies being developed on a daily basis, and fast growth startups disrupting the market, CIOs must be prepared to replace the old with the new, or fear being disrupted themselves. AI is one of these disruptive technologies, where plenty of startups are in the race to become the key players. Those that get it right early can become the new industry leaders.

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For businesses to incorporate AI within their processes at pace, a well-structured architecture framework is essential. This can then provide businesses with the agility needed to replace solutions that aren’t optimised, with one that is a better fit for the business.

AI Intelligence

As AI can be applied to most business processes, it’s important for businesses to look for the ways in which it can help them most, by aiding and moving work that is unnecessary.

AI can offer immense value to areas such as HR, finance, compliance, supply chain and contract management. It can augment the roles that have traditionally required human input, and go above and beyond what humans are capable of.

However, the possibilities of these technologies are only just dawning upon businesses. Not only can these technologies execute processes, they can build a business foundation, and help them to predict their own futures.

What is necessary now, is for business leaders to remember that AI is not a replacement for the human workforce; it is there to augment it. Human nature, imagination and intuition are the life blood of any business, and these traits can drive a business forward in a better way than any technology can. If AI is implemented into a business properly, it can help to innovate immensely: the only limitations are how far the C-suite are willing to let this technology benefit their business.

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