An interesting article in the on-line magazine TechTarget today was written by senior News writer Ed Burns. The main thrust of the article is all about how AI (Artificial Intelligence), when deployed in Enterprise, needs to focus on improving existing processes, so that it can have the desired effect on the bottom-line. I found this interesting for two reasons:
Firstly, because nobody I ever speak to (even at senior management) in Enterprise has the faintest Scooby Doo what the hell AI. will actually do. Visions of talking robots are appearing in their heads as they talk about job losses and George Orwell.
Secondly, because the only comment they could find from any company that can actually deliver the solutions is from Rekha Joshi at Intuit. Intuit is a software company that makes accounting software and is one of the companies I would select in a list of companies that has made the LEAST effort to help their own clients with any form of business process. They have been slow to move to the cloud and will be eaten alive by incumbents such as Xero if they don’t get their finger out. All that Mrs. Joshi could add was that "If your organization has history, it has baggage," Meaning that existing processes need to be included right from the start as you begin to explore and experiment with AI technology. Well – Dah! Yes. Let’s state the obvious and get my name in a publication!
I sound as if I am being dismissive of these sort of articles. But that is not the case. I welcome anyone that can start to shed light on the scary World of Artificial Intelligence and how it would manifest itself in business. In that case, well done to Ed for the attempt to bring out some of the pertinent points.
The article quotes the efforts of the large company in agriculture called Monsanto. It tells of their efforts to start 50 (actually the real number is nearer 15) deep learning projects with AI technology. But what about the majority of businesses? 98% of businesses in the UK are classed as SMB (Small to Medium) sized. How does all of this affect them?
In the last 8 years Trivaeo has been working with UK and US businesses to explore the “Art of the Possible”. Pat Graham, CTO of Trivaeo says that: “Smaller businesses will need to ensure that they get the fundamentals of IA right before getting to AI”. Here Pat Graham is referring to the need to use “Intelligent Automation” first. Intelligent Automation is the bedrock of the Trivaeo Crossroads product and it uses workflow and process engines to automate common, regular, labor-intensive tasks and saves enormous amounts of time and costs. “This leg of the journey is normally the most profitable, and where you get the most bang for your buck” – Adds Pat Graham. “In most cases, for every $1 spent on IA (Intelligent Automation) you will get $10 back on the bottom line”. Indeed, these are results that Trivaeo sees every day across the 1,200 or so clients that regularly use the cloud business applications suite Crossroads.
We estimate that at least ten different business processes are performed on average by each client per day. Across the year we see about 43 million processes completed, saving 7 million man-hours each year. This is a stunning return on such low-cost initiatives.
However, Trivaeo clients do not buy these solutions just to automate key tasks. They are invested into a platform that will gradually become self-learning. They have embarked on a journey where their own business rules will automatically adapt to what has happened and start to predict what will happen if….
This is the journey where REAL World scenarios will be seen. Not just Robots and George Orwell, but real business benefits that will allow even the smallest businesses to compete head-on with International giants.
The one great part of the article by Ed Burns was where it quoted Rekha Joshi as saying “She recommended taking a platform approach that allows for experimentation while ensuring that any new tools developed can plug into any process throughout the enterprise”.
However, Intuit needs to start paying more than just lip service to this. Trivaeo has a fraction of the Engineering and Development resources of Intuit, but has still managed to bring out 130 new features and functions in 2017. It would be interesting to see what Intuit has delivered. Any business that feels it will be able to survive without any investment into process and workflow automation and without any thought to improving the use of intelligence is probably right. They may be able to survive. Anyone that runs a business whose ambition is only to “survive” should not be there. A whole new breed of Global Smaller Businesses are emerging and these businesses have access to systems (like Trivaeo Crossroads) and require very limited man-power, no offices and use cloud technology to produce high quality goods and services at a fraction of the cost of their competitors. These businesses are the ones that Trivaeo will be working with. See http://www.trivaeo.com for more information about growing your business through improved process automation.