My firm could be classified as a “boutique” big data and AI solutions provider whose practice area was created by our clients.
Let me explain. We started out as a staffing service based on the simple yet unique idea that software architects and data managers could do far better than traditional recruiting firms at identifying and placing the right talents to fill specific IT needs for leading companies.
Within ten years of becoming a leading supplier for Fortune 500 companies and best-in-category groups, these clients turned to us to take the lead on daunting projects like integrating multiple disparate systems, developing modernized enterprise data warehouse structures and solving a host of other unique EIM conundrums.
After many success stories in the data solutions practice area, we were then approached to add a new offering for our clients – Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Unlike the millions who share the twofold fears of AI – the pop-culture-inspired anxiety of robots taking over the world, and perhaps the more realistic concern that machines will move many of us into the unemployment lines – I on the other hand, am incredibly optimistic about the potential for AI and machine learning to enhance significantly the quality of our lives.
As for the first fear, shouldn’t we be more frightened by the corporate “machine thinking” of the human workforce that has confused cutting valuable business resources with generating profits; has developed disparate information systems and costly “technical debt,” and still misses the mark when it comes to equitable pay without bias towards gender or genuinely understanding consumer sentiment?
The beauty of deep learning is that machines are programmed with the same neuron structure as the human brain but has a much greater capacity to take even the most skewed data to discover more authentic trends, detect anomalies, and garner other unique forms of valuable intelligence that even the most brilliant business minds could not conceive.
A prime example is AI-driven logistics optimization, which can reduce costs through real-time forecasts and behavioral coaching.[i]
And for those who have seen the Terminator movies too many times, keep in mind that the power of AI does not to belong in the models themselves, but ultimately in a company’s abilities to harness them.[ii]
Grabbing the AI reins is where our firm and other big data solutions groups can be effectively utilized. We earned the clients’ trust by placing the best talents in the right positions, so they asked us to take the lead in developing & managing projects that would integrate their systems and build a more connected business. And because our business approach aims to convert data from mere commodity into profit-generating capital, we have been recognized as an ideal partner to configure comprehensive data sets that enable an AI environment with enormous capabilities while still operating under the control of mortal management.
As for the second great fear, although AI may eliminate up to 1.8 million jobs, it will create 2.3 million new jobs. AI is already augmenting workers’ abilities and is projected to be a “net job creator” starting as early as 2020.[iii]
Some of the “hot” new job titles in the AI sector include Data Scientist, AI Machine Learning Engineers, and Data Protection Specialists. We have talents in our company that can meet the critical knowledge and skill requirements for these roles, especially with regard to
- Demonstrated experience in predictive modeling, or statistics/data mining using large amounts of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data
- Demonstrated experience using analytically oriented languages such as Python, R or Julia
- Demonstrated experience working with large, complex datasets using big data technologies and languages
- Experience with cloud infrastructures, especially AWS and its tools
While some of our resources have AI experience, the majority who do not have the desired pre-requisites to fill these positions quite nicely, in the same manner that military airplane pilots were an ideal fit for the new U.S. space program back in the 1950s! And because AI continues to develop at a rapid pace, our talents do not have to “unlearn” past practices that can prohibit growth.
A recent report in The Harvard Business Review asserts that AI’s biggest advantages in business will be for 1) manufacturing and supply chain, and 2) marketing and sales.[iv] To me, this seems like more than an assumption as we will be introducing two new products (an SaaS and an iPaaS) that will provide tremendous AI value in these business areas. In my next blog, I will discuss the first product launch that we feel will be a game-changer for a critical component of today’s sales and marketing mix – reputation management.