Artificial Intelligence is already here

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New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) have advanced to the point where non-technical people are able to create systems with ease, says Isuru Fernando, IBM New Zealand analytics and AI leader.

“We are seeing AI being used right here in New Zealand, by businesses large and small in many varied industries,” he said. “What is fascinating to me is that here in New Zealand, it has arrived – it is not a ‘future’ technology, it’s here.”

Fernando emphasised that in IBM’s experience, customers wanted simple and personalised experiences, no matter how they interacted with a business.

“We think that a great customer experience is about a deep engagement and increased conversions by capitalising on the right data to fine-tune and personalise offers and messages at every customer touchpoint,” he said.

And he’s a strong believer that AI allows people to augment their own human capabilities to achieve this.

“It’s about providing personalised services to meet changing consumer expectations,” he said.

By 2021, “conversational AI-first” would be adopted by the majority of organisations as the most important new platform,” he said.

Most consumers had already experienced AI through their mobile devices in the form of chatbots and customer service agents or “digital humans”.

IBM’s AI platform Watson (named after IBM’s first CEO Thomas J.Watson), was being used for everything from helping doctors diagnose or find new ways to treat cancer, to helping meteorologists predict the weather, and businesses serve their customers better, he said.

“For businesses, the real potential of AI is being able to analyse much more information than we ever could before to create insight and knowledge,” he said.

But he added that it was important when building AI systems to use an ethical framework to safeguard data responsibility and transparency, and minimise bias.

“This is one of the biggest challenges for businesses getting started with AI.”

The rise of AI
  • The market for AI is growing fast.
  • Worldwide spending on AI systems was forecast to reach $12.5 billion by the end of 2017.
  • By the end of this year, up to 75% of all consumers will interact with AI services on a regular basis.
  • 75% of developer teams will include AI functionality in one or more of their applications.
  • 81% of companies believed they had complete views of their customer, but 63% of consumers disagreed – a significant disconnect.
  • In the future, 100% of jobs will need to collaborate with an AI system.

Source: IBM NZ

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