Data and Artificial Intelligence: Are We on the Verge of a Breakthrough?
Mika Ruokonen is a Board Member of Hansdotter, one of the partners of SHIFT Business Festival. Founded in Turku, Finland in 2018, Hansdotter is a strategy-driven creative agency focused on content creation and marketing. We help brands succeed in the digital age by combining our strategic marketing, content and brand expertise with the latest data and algorithms to create targeted, well-timed, and powerful experiences.
Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been on the management agendas of companies for some years already. Yet, for all the recent developments in data and AI technologies, there is not yet clear evidence that they will contribute to economic growth.
As we are bouncing back from the Covid-19 adversity, are we now finally on the verge of a data and AI breakthrough? Will it unleash productivity, growth, sustainability, and customer experience improvements and move these technologies from promises, experiments and pilots to wide-scale adoption and business as usual?
Technology and business need to move ahead hand in hand
A lot of progress has been made on the technical front lately as companies have invested in fixing their technical infrastructure to make sure their data is consolidated, combined, widely accessible, and of high quality. Many forward-looking companies have also started their algorithm development several years ago, taking them to a sophisticated and advanced level. General trust towards the accuracy of machine-made predictions is increasing and errors in algorithmic decision-making are reduced.
As I see it, also business thinking related to data and AI commercialization is constantly improving, as executives increasingly view them as significant strategic assets. Further, it seems that business leaders have started to move past the ‘hype’ and have set their expectations to a more realistic level. Many of them reckon the hard work needed to gain results that will move the needle commercially.
It seems that business leaders have started to move past the ‘hype’ and have set their expectations to a more realistic level.
Various roadblocks currently being removed
Not least due to the Covid-19 adversity, companies are learning new ways of working, as well as new ways of harnessing digital data and tools in the organization. Given all the emphasis on these matters lately, we may expect that there is quite some readiness and maturity to tackle various data and AI related organizational issues.
Even though awareness, literature, and legislation (e.g., GDPR in the EU) have developed significantly, legal and ethical matters still require consideration; biases, misuse, accountability and cyber security are good examples of them. Yet, I also think that there are not so significant roadblocks that they would hinder (or stop) data and AI development in firms.
As it seems that many companies are currently moving from pilots and experiments to scaling up their data and AI implementation across the organization, a certain breakthrough in data and AI technologies might now be close. And as the companies harnessing latest technologies commonly have a big role to play in solving some of the biggest challenges of our time – for instance in the areas of health and wellbeing, clean energy and climate change – I’m hopeful that we will see some game-changing advancements soon enough.
Human-machine symbiosis is paramount
Apart from the technological foundation and the economic and societal benefits, data and AI are a very human thing. If we want to take full advantage of data and AI, we need to provide for a symbiotic relationship between people and machines. This will potentially lead to a virtuous cycle in which both can continuously learn from each other and improve their operations over time.
We need to provide for a symbiotic relationship between people and machines.
Reasoning, explaining, and reacting by humans – each of us – is commonly needed to fully benefit from data and AI solutions. It is critical that we explore various use cases when data and AI make their way to the daily life of people so that we understand how the symbiosis can work in practice.
In order a true data and AI breakthrough to happen, we need mature technology and solid business thinking, but above all ingenious and creative thinking by us humans.
At Hansdotter, we believe that Artificial Intelligence can never fully substitute for human creativity, but can provide invaluable benefits in communicating our customers’ values and messages to the right audience at the right time.
SHIFT Business Festival
25-26 August 2021