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How to accelerate business change using data and AI

AI poses as many challenges as opportunities. Here are a few common characteristics we’ve seen among businesses that have realized success with data and AI.

Cognizant

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By Bret Greenstein

Most senior leaders would agree that adapting in real time to customer and market needs is vital for achieving their visions and goals. And to develop this capability, they’d also likely agree they need data and artificial intelligence (AI).

The examples are all around us. The city of Chicago uses 12 variables, including high daily temperatures, to prioritize which of the city’s 7,000 “high-risk” restaurants it should send its 35 food inspectors to. The AI solution found violations a week earlier than they otherwise would have.

We helped an insurer create an AI system that provides underwriters with more precise estimates of risk, as well as the likelihood applicants will accept a specific price quote. The insurer can adjust how the AI environment makes its approval and pricing recommendations to ensure compliance with changing corporate priorities around risk vs. revenue.

We’ve also seen AI help predict customers’ emerging needs as markets change. If the economy goes into a recession, informed analysis could help organizations not only cut costs but also provide the products and services customers might need in a downturn.

And, of course, there are the businesses that have used data and AI to create new revenue streams and business models that drive lasting competitive advantage. For game changers like Uber, data is at the core of the company and constitutes value, not cost.

Facing up to AI realities

But there’s another hard fact that would draw consensus from many business leaders today: the unprecedented effort required to move an enterprise in an AI direction. The fact is, AI-enabled business change requires as much alteration to corporate culture, organizational structures and processes, and workforce roles and skills as it does new technology.

For example, too many organizations still treat data as an expense and a security risk. Technical or organizational siloes make it difficult to pool information in flexible data lakes. Many businesses also lack the skills to manage AI-enabled analytics amid rising privacy and ethical concerns. Others are unable to provide audit trails on how AI decisions were made or deliver AI-enabled analytics quickly enough.

AI success factors

Here are a few common characteristics we’ve seen among businesses that have realized success with data and AI:

  • Senior leadership is passionate about the value of data. CIOs can play a big role here. They need to work with the CEO and business leaders to resolve the tension between business managers who want more access to data and the pressure to restrict such access to reduce cost and risk.
  • Data scientists embedded with business users. By working more closely with business users, data scientists can better understand the business context behind their requests. Business managers may say they need “X,” but what they really need is a solution to a problem, which may or may not be “X.”
  • The establishment of an AI oversight role. Because AI systems learn and improve, they can produce different results at different times based on the data they’re given and the algorithms applied. This means they require closer oversight than traditional systems that are coded, tested and summarily released – and then left alone.In some ways, managing an AI system is like raising a child. You need to be sure they’re not being trained with intentionally or unintentionally biased data or by malicious users. If a loan application is denied, for example, you need to know the decision was ethically sound.
  • Plenty of high-quality data. The more high-quality data, the better and more quickly the AI system can learn. To supply that data, organizations must refine their processes for ongoing data preparation, integration and pipelining. This essential groundwork is the hardest part in building an AI system.
  • Modernized infrastructure. An infrastructure based on application programming interfaces (APIs) and Agile development techniques makes it easier to quickly deliver new AI-based applications. This more flexible infrastructure enables organizations to better access needed data from outside the enterprise, and more effectively monetize the resulting insights by sharing them across the ecosystem.For instance, we worked with one of the world’s largest and busiest airports to revamp its technology infrastructure to increase airport efficiency and performance. The organization combined data and AI to unlock more capacity to serve airlines and reduce passenger misconnects.

Our final recommendation: Start now. AI can be difficult and complex, and it’s hard to catch up once you’ve fallen behind. Even modest successes will teach you a lot, and the real danger in digital is being a laggard.

Cognizant
Author: Cognizant

Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) is dedicated to helping the world's leading companies build stronger businesses — helping them go from doing digital to being digital.

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Accenture Cloud First launches with $3B investment

New business unit is designed to help clients rapidly become ‘cloud-first.’

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Accenture will be able to help clients more rapidly move toward being ‘cloud-first’ — thanks to a $3 billion investment.

While not a cloud technology company, Accenture is known as a leading partner of most major cloud providers around the world. This investment will form Accenture Cloud First, described in the company’s press release as:

“a new multi-service group of 70,000 cloud professionals that brings together the full power and breadth of Accenture’s industry and technology capabilities, ecosystem partnerships, and deep commitment to learning and upskilling clients’ employees and to responsible business, with the singular focus of enabling organizations to move to the cloud with greater speed and achieve greater value for all their stakeholders at this critical time.”

Cloud First will be led by Karthik Narain, a tech industry veteran who most recently headed up Accenture Technology in North America. 

(Paul Daugh is Group Chief Executive – Technology & CTO at Accenture)

Cloud computing has seen a massive increase in demand — especially with the surge in remote working and need to cut costs, both as a result of COVID-19. Numbers from Gartner show that the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow by 6.3% in 2020. The total in dollars? $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019.

As Accenture CEO Julie Sweet is quoted in Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter, “today we are 20% in the cloud. We are moving to 80%…instead of happening in a decade, it is going to happen in five years.” 

“This is the Henry Ford moment of the digital era,” she added.

In Accenture’s press release, Sweet emphasized how the pandemic has brought to light the importance of accelerating digital transformation across all organizations and industries.

“COVID-19 has created a new inflection point that requires every company to dramatically accelerate the move to the cloud as a foundation for digital transformation,” she says, “to build the resilience, new experiences and products, trust, speed, and structural cost reduction that the ongoing health, economic and societal crisis demands — and that a better future for all requires.”

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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BC First Nation becomes first to use digital twin for land management and stewardship

LlamaZOO’s TimberOps software will support Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation.

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In signing an agreement with Spatial Business Intelligence provider LlamaZOO, Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation is the first-ever First Nation to use digital twin technology. The First Nation will implement the software to improve management and stewardship of their over 350,000 hectares of unceded territory near the western coast of Vancouver Island.

According to a press release, leveraging LlamaZOO’s TimberOps software will help the First Nation to “facilitate meaningful reconciliation through shared decision-making, as well as provide greater certainty for responsible development proposals of the land with industry (forestry and mining), and government.”

“This technology will assist our people in showing the world what is within our Traditional Territory,” elaborated Chief Maquinna of Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation in LlamaZOO’s release. “It will provide prospective business partners and forestry companies with a real-time view of the results of logging, mining and other resource extraction. TimberOps is going to play a critical role in how we manage our lands and resources.”

The technology will “help the nation identify ‘absolute no-go zones’ where industrial activity is not welcome,” Dorothy Hunt, lands manager for the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation, told the Globe & Mail. Examples include archeological sites, recorded Culturally Modified Trees, and places to gather food/seafood — all recorded in the First Nation’s traditional land use assessment that was integrated into the software. 

Ultimately, both Hunt and LlamaZOO chief executive Charles Lavigne agree that TimberOps has the potential for application across First Nations and communities. 

3D topography 

As Lavigne explained to the Globe & Mail, “with this digital twin, you can effectively fly down to the ground floor and see the individual trees and fly up into the sky and see the rivers and the roads and the communities.”

Within the 3D digital twin, there are currently 76,000 timber cut blocks and nearly 87 million trees. Additional data such as fish stocks and water flow could also be added in the future. As it stands, according to the press release, this digital twin has “the most data layers ever seen in a digital twin at LlamaZOO and over 100 years of historical BC logging data.”

(Featured image by David Stanley via WikiCommons)

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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Indigenous-led digital transformation in the face of a pandemic

Projects in Saskatchewan and Ontario are ensuring online learning access and the continuation of Indigenous tourism during COVID-19.

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A pair of Indigenous-led projects in Saskatchewan and Ontario are ensuring online learning access and the continuation of Indigenous tourism during COVID-19. 

Getting online

A self-contained signal relay network is helping all students from the Peepeekisis Cree Nation get online and back to school.

As reported in the Regina Leader-Post, Peepeekisis Cree Nation operations director Ernest Standingready — along with Pesakastew School principal David Still and education director Joy Sapp — saw this solution as a way to manage COVID-related physical distancing requirements.

“This technology allows us to broadcast that beam a few kilometres away and pick it up with another node and then repeat it and keep amplifying the signal down the road,” Standingready told the Leader-Post.

Mage Networks, based in Calgary, supplied the nodes which have been placed throughout the 38-square-kilometre reserve. Standingready, Still, and Sapp maintain control of the network, with only registered devices allowed and restrictions placed on website access.

Only 30% of the school’s registered families had internet access, explained Still, with 70% using cell data. The school gave each registered child a computer. In consideration of siblings, specific learning times are booked for each grade.

“It makes it that much more difficult when we’re on a First Nation that doesn’t have the basic infrastructure for the Internet, or even reliable, fast internet,” said Standingready. “A lot of houses are a few kilometres away (from each other); they’re not even tied into public infrastructure … Trying to find a way to get a signal out there was the biggest hurdle, but we were on that early.”

Boosting Indigenous tourism

According to Indigenous Tourism Ontario CEO Kevin Eshkawkogan, before COVID-19 there was “an increasing global demand” for Indigenous tourism.

Now, as reported by CBC Sudbury, the organization is working with Indigenous businesses to create virtual reality tours to help manage the pandemic-related decline in business.

In one example, Eshkawkogan explains that a company like Northern Ontario’s Mukwa Adventures — which provides guided ATV tours — could benefit from VR technology.

“He’s only got so many ATVs that he can take people out on the land and teach them different things,” he said, “but if you imagine … how much more accessible his business if he could do a virtual tour.”

Ultimately, it comes down to Indigenous-led solutions.

“We just want to help tell the Indigenous story on Indigenous terms while helping business operators who are Indigenous grow their business.”

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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