Opportunity to Reinvent Your Business

Let us consider some examples of early success with AI. In “The Promise of Artificial Intelligence” (https://vimeo.com/215926017) Frank Chen of Andressen Horowitz has categorized various areas of AI that have made very good progress. These examples provide several useful ideas, both for stage 1 and stage 2, in the process of developing AI solutions for your business. He states that AI will be integrated into every important piece of software and applications. In today’s world software runs every product, service, and even entire businesses.

Chen says, in every major technology upheaval, a key technology component becomes significantly cheaper and its inclusion in many aspects of businesses and lifestyle creates a revolution. With the Industrial Revolution the steam engine, internal combustion engine, electricity and motors have made machine driven “muscle power” cheaper and easily available. In the last 50 years use of data has become cheaper through digitalization, computing and communication. AI is next. It will make prediction and data-based decision making much cheaper and better than alternatives, making it a de facto ingredient in all applications. Chen uses relevant examples to show six areas where AI has already shown amazing promise for significant change. Here is a summary:

  1. Self-driving vehicles
  2. Understanding the world
  3. Creating content
  4. Predicting future
  5. Optimizing complex systems
  6. Language understanding


  1. Self-Driving Vehicles – planes, trains, trucks, buses, ships, cars, carts etc.
  • It will seem odd to our grandchildren that something cannot get from A to B all by itself.
  • Things will come to you on their own.
  • Drones can follow and assist you in activities.
  • Drones can save lives in dangerous situations or finding survivors in disaster areas.
  • Self-driving vehicles or drones can deliver blood in emergencies.
  1. Understanding the World
  • Computer vision for “seeing” and image recognition
  • Tests consistently show that AI has over 95% accuracy, better than best humans.
  • Spotting individual objects within images.
  • Ability to identify objects with specific color and characteristics
  • Precision farming: identifying plants in a field that need fertilizers and avoid spraying the entire field with fertilizer or pesticide.
  • Automatic checkout in stores – all items in shopping cart are recognized and listed.
  • Robot in a hardware store to recognize visually what you need and showing you where to find it in the store
  • Ability to recognize content in a sequence of pictures and automatically creating a narrative of how they are linked.
  1. Creating Content – articles, tweets, stories, music, art and application software.
  • Generate detailed step-by-step recipes from a series of pictures or a video.
  • Generate photorealistic images from a description or a sketch
  • Generate music based on parameters provided
  • Creation of trailer for movies – using IBM Watson – a big help to editors even if it needs human tuning of the final trailer.
  • Generate application software using existing code modules
  1. Predicting future events 
  • Decide which videos to translate or dub from another language by predicting the success of a video or movie based on the success pattern of videos in a specific country.
  • Predict a person’s identity automatically from the way the person moves or handles the smartphone.
  • Predict how you will be received based on the physical behavior of the individual you want to interact with.
  • Predict heart related problems based on the data generated from the Apple Watch.
  1. Optimizing Complex Systems
  • Optimize driving routes for people based on their driving style, other people on the road, and current congestion situation.
  • Optimizing the configuration of soccer player placements in accordance with each player’s strengths and that of the opposing team in a match for a given strategy.
  • Software optimization that result in much denser code and faster execution times. 60% speed improvements are possible.
  • Getting better than average results on the stock market
  • Energy consumption in large organizations. Google achieved 20-15% savings on energy consumption in their data center by allowing AI to control their energy systems – monitoring 120 parameters from which servers are running at what load to cooling needs etc.
  • Optimizing the path/route taken to navigate large store aisles according to a given shopping list thus minimizing grocery shopping time.
  1. Language understanding
  • Speech recognition – we can communicate information 3x faster by speech vs. written.
  • Understanding the context of what is written. Google Smart-Reply can automatically formulate answers to emails.
  • Understanding and collating content derived from multiple reports on a specific topic and generating one synopsis that integrates critical elements from each text.
  • Textio can understand a job description and suggest changes with right words and language, in order to appeal to the person who is most appropriate for the job.
  • Everlaw looks through all the documents in a legal trial process during the e-discovery phase to categorize them and show lawyers which documents are relevant for any specific topic in the case, to ensure that the lawyers do not miss out something.

These are some current examples where AI is making a significant change in business processes. The list is growing by the day. You should take these as samples and inspiration providing new ideas for your business. AI provides a myriad of opportunity to reinvent your business just as was possible with the emergence of new technologies such as computing, the internet and mobile devices. Business model innovation – the stage 2 in this process – is where most focus needs to be devoted as this is what will truly allow for differentiation from competition and prompt a unique core strength for your organization. Next, we will illustrate using a few case studies and show how some businesses are innovating with AI.

AI Use Cases

(what’s being done and available as modules)

CEOs of many leading companies are already betting their companies future on AI. They have taken the “AI-First” approach to products, services and internal processes. They recognize that AI has the potential to improve all aspects of a business ?—? product development, manufacturing, management, hiring, training, finance, marketing, sales, and service. Just as the internet disrupted every existing business model and forced a re-ordering of industry, artificial intelligence will require us to imagine how computing works all over again. Many benefits such as ease of use, higher accuracy, better speed, deeper personalization or cost reduction result from background improvements through AI in the quality of product, service and processes. That is why many companies are talking about baking in AI capabilities into all their products, services and processes. AI is perceived as a wonder ingredient that makes even a product we used yesterday like Siri, Translate or Maps better, easier or cheaper.

Many AI projects can be split into two stages:

1- AI for Real World Recognition:The first stage is to apply AI for interfacing machines with the real world. The real world is analog and unstructured, consisting of faces, voice, body language, images, scenes, weather etc. Advances in machine learning have enabled recognition of speech, gestures, faces, objects, and patterns converting the real world data into accurate and useful digital information. This step converts unstructured analog information of the real world to structured and categorized information needed for your business to leverage.

2- AI for Business Model Innovation: The second stage for AI is to leverage this new structured information for your business model for innovation; this is where new value is generated by your business. This step is at the core of your real differentiation and competitiveness. The challenge for most businesses resides in the success of stage 2.

Fig. 8.1 Two stages of AI projects – Understanding the real world and business innovation

We will use self-driving cars as an example to illustrate this process. Stage 1 is all about understanding the environment of the car. Firstly, AI is used to recognize and interpret accurately the environment of the car with sensors such as LIDARs, radar, cameras, motor data, speech data of passengers, weather and traffic information etc. Stage 2 is to make sense of all this information and leverage it to carry out the right actions that make autonomous driving feasible. It is how this is done that will differentiate a Tesla from BMW or Mercedes. The decisions made in stage 2 will determine if passengers and lawmakers are satisfied with the quality, safety and comfort of the ride in all possible situations. Stage 1 in the process is becoming easier for businesses thanks to the intensity of ongoing AI research, startup efforts, and business endeavors of some key players. Recognition algorithms are more readily available via open source, AI platforms, and AI startups developing algorithms to interface the real world to machines.

Quotes: Google, Salesforce, IBM, … (AI First approach)

“Artificial Intelligence is an amazing renaissance to technology, business and society. Machine Learning is a horizontal enabling layer. It will empower and improve every business, every government organization, every philanthropy … basically, there is not an institution in the world that cannot be improved with Machine Learning.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder, Amazon. May 2017, www.internetassociation.org

“In an ‘AI first’ world we are rethinking all our products and applying Machine Learning and AI to solve user problems. We are doing that across every one of our products.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO Google, I/O 2017 Keynote

“Anytime you see a pattern …. AI is very good for a needle in a haystack problems and changes in patterns.”

Eric Schmidt, Executive President Alphabet (Google), RSA Conference, 2017

“AI is the next platform. All future applications, all future capabilities for all companies will be built on AI.”

Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce.com

“I think we’re in the phase where AI will change pretty much every major industry.”

Andrew Ng, renowned machine learning expert and chief scientist at Baidu

“Artificial intelligence is the ‘ultimate breakthrough.’ If I broadly talk about AI including machine learning, the thing that’s been most exciting in the last five years is this one specialized branch of ‘deep neural network’ that is fundamentally giving us human perception, whether it is speech or image recognition, and that’s just magical to see.”

Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft

“In the next 10 to 20 years, AI is going to be “extremely helpful” in managing our lives….The risk of artificial intelligence software becoming super smart is way out in the future”

Bill Gates, Philanthropist, Founder Microsoft

“I feel this is a profoundly hopeful time….Cognitive healthcare is real and here and can change almost everything about healthcare….Cognition means that precision medicine is coming alive….Digital is foundation to everything. But competitive advantage will come from cognitive. And there is a land rush on AI at the moment.”

Ginni Rometty, CEO IBM, HIMSS 2017 conference in Orlando

“I see an AI first world….I think very strongly that intelligent applications will fundamentally change the way you do work in the enterprise and the way you collaborate with your trading partners outside of the enterprise….We need the system to tell us what to do. Based on algorithms of that data and inputs that are in that data bank.”

Bill McDermott, CEO SAP

“In 30 years, a robot will likely be on the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO. Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing. Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind’s biggest enemy.”

Jack Ma, CEO Alibaba

“The [AI] companion in the Vision Next 100 car is just that: a real companion that gets to know you as a person and responds to you as an individual, I firmly believe this is not a threat to us, it’s much more a huge opportunity to all of us — mobility become more versatile. It will be effortless, available on demand and tailor-made for all our customers’ individual needs.”

Harald Krueger, CEO BMW

“Artificial intelligence is the key to the digital future of the Volkswagen Group”

Martin Hofmann, CIO Volkswagen 

“Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization.”

Stephen Hawking, Astrophysicist, Futurist, Guardian, May 15, 2017