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AI has entered the business world. What happens next?

Rapid advances in machine vision and language processing are pushing AI into the mainstream. Organizations that strike the right partnerships between people and machines can radically enhance their competitive advantage through new offerings, sharper value propositions, and more efficient processes.

Confessions of an AI Optimist: An Interview with MIT’s Andrew McAfee
The largest constraint on artificial intelligence may be the imagination of business leaders.

Is Your Business Ready for Artificial Intelligence?
Companies expect a lot from AI, but few are actually using it. So says a global survey by BCG and MIT Sloan Management Review. The time to act is now.

Is Your Business Ready for Artificial Intelligence?

Expectations run sky-high, but what are businesses actually doing?

  1. The future isn’t here yet. Only about one in five companies has incorporated AI into some offerings or processes. Only one in 20 has extensively incorporated AI into offerings or processes.
  2. Using data to train algorithms (so they become intelligent) is one of the biggest impediments to putting AI to work. But companies also face managerial challenges common to other technology-driven transformations.
  3. Companies, for example, need to think beyond using AI to improve the status quo. The hard work is to understand how AI could shift entire value pools.
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Putting Artificial Intelligence to Work

Tune out the hype and do what needs doing.

  1. AI is not plug and play. Companies cannot simply “buy intelligence” and apply it to their problems. They need to manage the interplay of data, processes, and technologies in-house.
  2. Even if no single company has achieved AI excellence across its functions, many are using AI to create substantial business value.
  3. The smartest play for most companies is to develop a portfolio of short-term pilots that are run as test-and-learn sprints. At the same time, companies should prepare for new opportunities by building up capabilities, data infrastructure, and capacity, and by plotting and testing various scenarios.
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Competing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Figure out how computers and people can play off of each other’s strengths.

  1. Machines can now speak, read, retain knowledge, interact with people, and identify objects and patterns. It’s no wonder that companies in lots of industries—health care, finance, retail—are pouring billions of dollars into AI.
  2. AI reframes traditional sources of competitive advantage. It blurs the lines between capabilities such as knowledge, skills, and processes, for instance, and it changes how companies think about sourcing and sharing data.
  3. To gain an advantage from AI, it helps to go back to basics: What do your customers need? How can machines and people work together to meet those needs?
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Powering the Service Economy with RPA and AI
These two complementary technologies are the brawn and brains of performance. Companies can gain quick wins through RPA while strategically introducing AI for sustainable benefits.

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Online Poker, the Turing Test, and AI in Business
Online poker will die. Can AI make money during the downfall? And what lessons does it hold for businesses at large?

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Killer Apps and the Game-Changing Potential of AI
Irving Wladawsky-Berger discusses the evolution of artificial intelligence, killer apps, and how companies can capitalize on these technologies to gain a strategic advantage.

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Raffaello D’Andrea on the Future of Robotics
D’Andrea thought customers would value his company’s robots for their contributions to cost cutting. It turns out their flexibility and adaptability were the real attraction.

The Integrated Strategy Machine: Using AI to Create Advantage
Technology has gotten better and smarter, but can it develop and implement business strategy? Not on its own. To advance strategy, artificial intelligence must unite with human intelligence.

Killer Apps and the Game-Changing Potential of AI

Some of the apps will be relatively simple, but they’ll seem like magic.

  1. To turn AI into competitive advantage, we must make it part of something very useful. We must use it in something that people appreciate—without having to know how it works. Those are the apps that have real value for business, says technology strategist Irving Wladawsky-Berger.
  2. Apps like that already exist, such as tools that put searches in a context instead of using textual analysis.
  3. What should CEOs be doing? Hang out with the smartest people you know and connect what they’re saying to the problems in your business that you haven’t solved yet.
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Raffaello D’Andrea on the Future of Robotics

Before long, robots will make a lot of economic sense.

  1. D’Andrea, the cofounder of Kiva Systems, thought customers would value Kiva’s robots for their contributions to cost cutting. Turns out their flexibility and adaptability were the real attraction.
  2. These same qualities—flexibility and adaptability—may also make robots economically viable: instead of creating a very expensive high-performance machine, you can create a less expensive machine that has the ability to become high performance.
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The Integrated Strategy Machine: Using AI to Create Advantage

How can companies translate technology advances into strategic gains?

  1. It’s beginning to seem like technology can do just about anything. But not even AI guarantees competitive advantage. To enhance strategy, artificial intelligence must unite with human intelligence in an integrated strategy machine.
  2. The strategy machine must be designed for a specific aim. Its parts must form a whole in which humans and machines each do what they’re good at. It must do something better than competitors can. And it must be capable of reinventing itself.
  3. To prepare the organization to use the strategy machine, leaders must consider some new questions about how people and technology interact.
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“A field that once disappointed its proponents is now striking remarkably close to home as it expands into activities commonly performed by humans.”

Looking into the Future of Artificial Intelligence

There’s a lot of hype around AI, but not a lot of exaggeration.

  1. AI pioneer Jürgen Schmidhuber, whose work has revolutionized fields such as machine learning and speech recognition, sees a big future for AI. Even if there are no more breakthroughs with algorithms, he says, hardware improvements alone will bring us superhuman performance in just 25 years.
  2. AI is about problem solving. The goal is to build machines that can deal with new environments and solve lots of arbitrary problems in them.
  3. Should we be afraid? No, Schmidhuber says. The superintelligent agents of the future will be interested in other agents like them—not in us.
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Why AI Matters
AI is on the rise, and with it the imperative for all people and organizations to develop an intuitive understanding of the topic.

Artificial Intelligence: Reflections from Davos 2017
2016 will be remembered as the year AI left the machine room and became a business reality—and a major topic of discussion at Davos.

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