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article imageHow to best roll out AI products into the workplace: Interview Special

By Tim Sandle     Apr 7, 2018 in Business
While the benefits that can be provided by artificial intelligence in the workplace continue to grow, ensuring that they are implemented seamlessly into a workplace continues to be a substantial challenge. Sagi Eliyahu gives some insights.
A recent study from Deloitte on the growth of artificial intelligence for businesses found that 47 percent of executives polled believe the biggest challenge facing the technology is “integrating cognitive projects with existing processes and systems.” As the benefits that can be provided by artificial intelligence continue to grow so do the challenges for a successful implementation.
To find out the different approaches that businesses can take, Digital Journal spoke with Sagi Eliyahu who is CEO of Tonkean. Eliyahu's company is concerned with devising AI solutions that are unobtrusive and helpful, such as designing machine-learning assistants that integrate into projects and checks on statuses and figures.
Sagi Eliyahu:  An entrepreneur  innovator and tech guy.
Sagi Eliyahu: "An entrepreneur, innovator and tech guy."
Sagi Eliyahu
Digital Journal: How important is artificial intelligence for business?
Sagi Eliyahu: A.I. has the potential to completely transform the way businesses operate, both internally and externally; creating efficiency is something all businesses strive for. Transferring repetitive tasks and data gathering activities to A.I. applications will enable humans, which are typically a company’s highest cost center to focus on doing actual work. By doing so, a company can allocate their resources in a more effective way and attain higher efficiency goals.
For example, A.I is already transforming the customer service experience. A.I. chatbots have seen increased adoption over the last few years. Currently, their functions are limited to answering basic questions and delivering information. As the technology advances, chatbots will be more proactive: able to automatically anticipate questions, then digest and organize the responses to make sense of them. By eliminating this manual process, teams can focus their attention on decision-making and problem-solving, rather than gathering and analyzing information. This kind of progress in A.I. chatbot technology will enable a new type of worker-friendly automation in the workplace that we have never seen before.
DJ: Is this of equal importance to all sectors?
Eliyahu: Absolutely, but it won’t be adopted equally. Innovation around incorporating A.I. into existing workflow and processes will see faster adoption. Some sectors, such as sales and customer service already seeing the initial benefit of the technology, others will soon follow.
DJ: How ‘intelligent’ is current AI?
Eliyahu: It depends on how you define “intelligent.” From a business usage perspective, A.I. is still nascent - typically leveraging basic machine-learning algorithms to accomplish repetitive tasks or answer simple questions. Over time, as the technology progresses, we will see advancements in the complexity of the methods being used to create more sophisticated intelligent automation. Of course, the general progress of AI technology in other fields will open new ways that can be leveraged here as well.
DJ: What are the main challenges with using AI?
Eliyahu: Like with any technology, understanding what it can and cannot do is critical. More specifically, A.I. is a great tool to analyze and make sense of data when trying to accomplish a specific goal: classifying conversations as good or bad, identifying similarities of two entities and predicting relevancy, for example.
Therefore, the most critical part with A.I. is understanding what the question is that you are asking and the goal you are trying to achieve. This is why, in business specifically, discrete solutions leveraging A.I. behind the scenes is more likely to succeed than a generalized use by the organization itself.
DJ: How can AI be improved, in terms of business advantages?
Eliyahu: Today’s A.I. in business is fairly limited to the automation of repetitive tasks and responding to basic questions. Just like with human intelligence, though, the more it learns, the smarter it will get. As it evolves and advances, it will become more proactive: and be able to automatically anticipate questions and provide more sophisticated responses. It will also be able to digest and analyze data more quickly and accurately so that businesses can take quicker, better action. This will facilitate more nuanced and specific applications giving businesses greater usability of the technology.
DJ: Will the role of managers change with advent of AI?
Eliyahu: A.I. will empower managers to automate repetitive tasks and workflow processes and improve how internal communication is facilitated. By freeing up managers from manual tasks, they will be able to focus more on strategy and leadership than on middle management and administrative functions.
DJ: With improved self-service, will businesses need as many data scientists?
Eliyahu: A.I. has the potential replace the gathering, digestion and analysis of data. Data scientists will still be needed, however, to pose the question the analysis will answer. The right questions need to be asked to the get the right answers. A.I. is only as smart as the instructions it is given, and data scientists are key to that step in the process. They are also critical in reviewing the outcomes and ensuring they align to the initial objectives.
DJ: Do business cultures need to change as the use of AI increases?
Eliyahu: Massive technological advances have occurred many times that have transformed how businesses operate and are organized. Factory assembly lines and the internet itself fundamentally altered business practices, however, it is not certain that business cultures changed as a result. Those innovations mostly affected the process by which goods and services were produced and sold.
The impact was huge and shocking, no doubt, but ultimately embraced as the next level of automation to support and complement human activity. A.I. should be seen in the same light, as the logical next step. The fear you see in the media around machine-learning replacing human activity is both overblown and premature. It’s not dissimilar to fears around other technological advances when they arose. Over time, the benefits will be realized as adding to human potential rather than subtracting or replacing it.
DJ: Where do you see business technology in the next three to five years?
Eliyahu: Generally speaking, there has been recently a trend towards “one-size-fits-all” technological solutions for businesses. Tools that try to consolidate and replace many disparate systems and capabilities into a generic solution on the promise of speed and efficiency are growing, and will likely continue to grow for the next several years.
Eventually, the tide will turn as businesses discover this approach does not fully meet their specific needs, and they will come back to the discrete advanced business tools that meet their requirements. Businesses will further add over-the-top “umbrella” tools that utilize A.I. These will integrate everything together, automating workflows and communication, thereby actually accomplishing the streamlining they seek in their stack.
Additionally, continuous progress in NLP, deep learning and neural networks technologies, will lead to more applications focused on enhancing professionals: helping doctors diagnose patients faster and more accurately, for example, and enabling smarter, more effective decision-making by business leaders. The design of complex structures like factories and hospitals, as well as customer service systems and autonomous vehicles, will continue to see the great benefit of machine-learning technology.
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