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5 ways organizations are looking to tap the promises of AI

Artificial intelligence continues to be at the top of many business planning discussions as companies look to their 2019 plans and beyond. At the core of these discussions is how to translate all that AI has to offer as a technology and apply it effectively to support the goals of the business – whether its streamlining operations, accelerating cycle time or getting more value out of existing investments.

With that in mind, here are a few consistent themes we expect to see take shape in 2019 related to AI.

AI/Data Science Meets the Line of Business

One of AI’s biggest obstacles has been the disconnect between data science teams and subject matter experts (SMEs) in the business. SMEs play a critical role but the complexity of the underlying tech typically requires a lot of data science expertise. Enterprises will put increasing pressure on their teams to close this gap so that they can get more value from their AI initiatives.

The Rise of Explainable AI

As AI becomes embedded in more and more processes, there is an increasing need for transparency in how it works and makes decisions on our behalf. Enterprise users will demand real-world, plain English examples and explanations to for full transparency. This will also make it easier for data science and SMEs to collaborate on improving AI’s contribution to the business.

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Multiple cables connect to powered supercalculator Blade computer units during testing at the Bull SA headquarters in Angers, France, on Monday, June 23, 2014. Thierry Breton, chief executive officer of software maker Atos, is engineering a 620 million-euro ($846 million) bid to acquire Bull, the company he tried to revive two decades ago. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

More Focus on Mid / Back Office Applications/Use Cases

A lot of the attention in AI to date has been on the front office applications – those involving customer service interactions via bots. As companies look for ways to drive more profitable growth, they are looking at more opportunities to use AI and machine learning in their back-office operations – especially those manual, document-based workflows that drive many of their core business processes.

AI is No Longer “What.” It’s “How.”

Companies are looking for business solutions – aimed at improving the customer experience, accelerating cycle time, increasing business efficiency, and expanding capacity and productivity. Expect to see fewer AI-only solutions coming to market, and fewer pure-AI startups being funded.

Filling the Gap Between RPA and AI (IPA)

RPA has been one of the hottest areas of tech in the last two years – because of its simple, easy-to-understand value prop – process automation, efficiency; freeing resources up to focus on higher value activities, etc. But It has fundamental limits – it’s only effective with rote, repetitive processes and it cannot impact workflows involving unstructured content which makes up over 80 percent of data in most enterprises.

At the same time, AI and machine learning are seen as too esoteric; requiring too much data science expertise, too much hand-holding, too much uncertainty and risk about ROI. Companies will look to bridge the gap in 2019 – between the horsepower of RPA and the intellect of AI/machine learning through what may experts are calling “intelligent process automation.”

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