AI can help enterprises be agile and adaptable, even ‘portable’ in the time of a global pandemic.
Every business is now a technology business and for company leaders, that means they need to be more tech savvy than before to consider the impact of technology on their strategy.
In global research firm Capgemini’s report titled, Future Thinking, to cope with an environment reshaped by the COVID19 crisis, enterprises must be agile and adaptable, even ‘portable’ to new business opportunities.
According to the report the technology is the key to success. However, exploiting technology is easier said than done as the scale of change is huge. In the flood of technologies, which ones matter most? Where should companies put their money?
Capgemini supports a simple framework in four parts:
- For your enterprise, what are the essential technology drivers and where do they manifest – the Technology Principals.
- Among the technologies evolving today, which ones should you focus on.
- Among the emerging technologies, which ones will count.
- Among the future technologies, which ones will turn out to be disrupting. Technology principals are, in its opinion, data, security and standards, which influence the whole landscape but with notable manifestations in key technology domains.
However, data is an organisation’s main asset – technology is the way to get data, store data, make the most of data, and communicate data, reports Capgemini.
“Data and AI equals the only way to simplify decision making from vast quantities of information,” it states. “Security, because it will keep your enterprise alive. Security and cloud equal the only way to take advantage of the cloud’s immense potential.
Standards, because they are necessary for technology portability – preserving your independence – and for technology interoperability – enabling you to work with others.”
According to Capgemini standards and decentralised technologies equals the only way to create your new ecosystems – technology-fuelled, not technology-dependent, leading to the idea of the portable enterprise, which, amongst the perspectives in this report, Capgemini believes is critical.
Value of data
“In an age of fast- changing circumstances, being a technology-enabled Portable Enterprise will give your organisation the freedom to go wherever it needs to,” states Capgemini. “Among the technologies Evolving today, we suggest you focus on AI and cloud.
With data as your main asset, AI will be ubiquitous and will drive developments in Immersive technologies.”
According to consultancy firm cloud is the platform on which every Technology Business innovation is delivered. Linked with connected technologies, it equips your company to create new, machine-only environments.
Among the emerging technologies, Capgemini suggests keeping an eye on immersive, connected and decentralised.
“Immersive technologies will give us an effortless, intuitive way to make sense of data – augmenting and simplifying reality,” wrote Capgemini. “Connected technologies, notably 5G, will be your new umbilical cord to the world and power the edge. We see Immersive and Connected technologies as two sides of the same development – as Connected enables machine-to-machine environments, Immersive will enable humans to interact with this new world.”
Decentralised technologies will give businesses the tools to create new, federative businesses. And finally, we suggest new forms of Computing will be the Disrupting technologies. Neuromorphic computing will let AI fly. More radically, the general-purpose quantum computer will rewrite the rules of information. Each of these four parts will be tackled in turn, after organisations trace a perspective on technology business.
“Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, experts have talked about adapting to a ‘new normal’. These plans are noteworthy,” said Kariappa Bheemaiah, technology and business at Capgemini. “But a fundamental point is overlooked – markets and companies do not change at the same rate or in similar ways.”
Strategy, strategy, strategy
Accrording to Lee Beardmore, business services at Capgemini, creating a business strategy for AI demands organisations get a clear handle on how it will impact not just the various products and services they create, but also the way companies interact with the market through sales and customer service, as well as the way they run their businesses.
“In business, as in life, there are things you really must have, and there are things you’d like to have,” he said. “I’d bet that, for many organisations, AI falls into the second category. “Yes, it sounds so promising, doesn’t it? We really ought to take a closer look sometime.
I’d argue it’s not a nice-to-have at all. I’d go further and say it’s essential that companies embrace AI as something that can enable fundamentally different ways of working. It’s not just an add-on to what a business delivers today.”
Beardmore said what’s fascinating is how AI is enabling a pervasive environment of prediction. The more digital a company becomes, the greater the data footprint to which it has access. Data feeds business models, and those business models predict.
“This means companies can create a much more anticipatory strategy, where decision-making is pushed to algorithms that are based on predictions gathered from operational and third-party data sources,” he said.
Organisations need to get ready for all this, notes Beardmore. This means, in turn, that they need to invest significantly in extending the specialized skills required to develop and manage the next generation of AI solutions. And this includes carefully considered ethical constructs to assure safe and fair operations.
“Skills development is not just limited to technical development teams: it’s not purely the domain of the data scientists and engineers,” he said. “If AI is to meet the needs of the business, the business needs to contribute to its development in return, which is why it’s vital that awareness is built throughout business operations to ensure the implications of AI will be readily understood.”
Combining these elements – the technology, and the commercial operations to which it is applied – play a big part in the development of a strategy that can be termed AI-first.
Business leaders need to be actively involved in addressing these questions and should be empowered to drive the AI strategy forwards. Companies should consider the creation of a Chief AI Officer role to provide the necessary drive and leadership, wrote Beardmore in a blog.
“What’s more, the right level of investment is necessary, in order not just to develop appropriately skilled teams, but to show commitment, and to ensure progress is made.
It’s hard to make the mindset change gear from that of a traditional business to something that is AI-driven,” he said. “If it is not forward-reaching enough, this can limit the impact of the strategy: people won’t be impressed.”
That said, though, the contrary is also true — if the strategy is too ambitious, it can be difficult to create realizable projects – and that too, is unimpressive.
There is also the spectre of large numbers of AI projects never making it past proof of concept phase.
This is typically for one of two reasons:
- Either the proof of concept was an experiment, and the outcomes were not as expected
- Or the business has not been sufficiently geared up to accommodate an AI-driven way of working
If the strategy does not have a governance model – a model that not only articulates a structured approach, but that also promotes scale – there is a good chance it will stall.