Silver bullet or shiny new toy? If you have been in sales or consulting or any permutation in between you may well have been exposed to the hype stage of a new technology, product or service - effectively where Artificial Intelligence is at the moment. In this phase any self-respecting IT Exec and even CEO has it on their scorecard and this is appropriate since Artificial Intelligence and its cornucopia of sub-disciplines do indeed hold a profound promise for business and humanity as a whole.
HOWEVER, AS often occurs in this life stage of the technology is that there are those that think AI is the holy grail, the ultimate turn-key solution - just waiting to be switched on.
3RD QUARTER 2019
In truth, while it is an extremely powerful technology it is still in its infancy. It also must be integrated into existing IT infrastructure which includes legacy systems in order to provide the business with true digital transformation and the realisation of business benefit.
If AI vendors fail to do this, AI solutions end up as mere “point” remedies which unfortunately tend to do little for the existing value chain. What this means is that businesses should be wary of vendors advocating turn-key AI solutions - which just need to be ‘turned-on” for business benefits to flow - as this is rarely the case. AI can be viewed like a new employee – straight from school or university. In order for it to be inculcated with the basics of any business domain or more specifically excel at automation of a business process, it requires a significant amount of training, and thereafter hand holding is still required until it is able to perform at a level sufficient for the specific application. In truth, for those of us who have
been around the block for some time, there are some basic disciplines and rules for those who are looking at utilising Artificial intelligence in their businesses. These rules are as relevant as they’ve ever been and they involve action, strategy and a partnership with both parties prepared to go on a learning journey, namely: Develop a sound business roadmap by unlocking the lowest hanging fruits for your industry or domain and prioritising those that will bring the most benefit and are achievable with the current maturity of the requisite AI sub-disciplines; Partner with a specialist team that has both the business-savvy, the AI experience and the rigour and discipline to ensure a successful outcome and sticks around post implementation to ensure same; Understand that you are in new territory and success is incremental and that those that prioritise continued learning and optimisation are those that will win the game. Your organisation will have to be part of this continuing learning journey and failure to do so can be the largest barrier to success; and Continued on page 46
ALESSANDRO VIGNAZIA Alessandro has over twentytwo years Information Technology consulting experience in leading organisations across the Middle East & Africa. He began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and subsequently held senior positions at IBM Consulting, where he held several positions namely the IBM Consulting Artificial Intelligence lead for Middle East & Africa and the IBM Consulting Analytics, Optimisation & Information Management Lead for Southern Africa. He is currently the Founding Director of Lightblue Cognitive Solutions an Artificial Intelligence boutique consultancy and software solutions IT Startup. Alessandro is passionate about new technologies such as intelligent automation and its real-world application to achieve economic and social benefit.