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11 Apr 2018

AI & Big Data Are Taking Over Our Business Operation - Are We Going To Lose Our Job?

John Bensalhia

“Big Data & AI is a big change for companies and society. People should learn about and adapt to a new way of working. This is a great opportunity for people and companies.” - Vidal Fernandez, Director Big Data – Innovation, CLP Holdings Ltd.

Once upon a time, the concept of robots and computers doing our jobs was the stuff of science fiction. Movies such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis or stories such as Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (also turned into a movie in 2004) would explore this notion. But today, that notion is fast becoming a reality.

Big Data and AI are becoming common elements of business, as companies use these to generate greater efficiency while managing to save money and boost revenue at the same time.

“Big Data & AI allow a company to be more efficient in its business process,” says

Vidal Fernandez, Director Big Data - Innovation - CLP Holdings Ltd. “This means companies can save costs and increase revenues. Big Data & AI can optimise businesses in every business area.”

Dr Fernandez outlines four principal areas in which Big Data & AI can help businesses. For example, increased company revenue can be gained from marketing (“Having a better identification of what customers to  target and customer preferences, and improving customer experience.”). The second aspect is that of finance optimising business (“Having a better understanding of what drives company performance, reducing risks and making better investment decisions). In addition, Dr Fernandez says that Big Data & AI can boost operations by “optimising business processes to get more with the same effort”, while IT can also save a business money (“By adopting a cheapest technology, which is more flexible, elastic and scalable”).

But most importantly, Dr Fernandez says that Big Data & AI can provide excellent opportunities to reshape the current business models. “New competitive advantages are emerging to compete in the market. Also, new business models are coming up thanks to these technologies. These new business models are disrupting all businesses, in all industries, in all countries: it is the fourth industrial revolution.”

There are, however, potential issues of Big Data & AI. Dr Fernandez says that the key ones are the process of adopting these technologies into organisations.

“Most companies are thinking in technology and they are supporting the Big Data & AI strategy on technology. This is the most important issue I see. We have a recent experience with CRM technologies, in that most of the companies leap on CRM solutions without any strategy behind that. They invest a lot of money in that with no success for many of them. I am afraid that this is something many companies are again doing.”

Dr Fernandez says that companies must develop internal skills to manage these technologies internally and adapt to the company strategy. Consultants are also a welcome solution to this problem if they work together with internal teams.

In addition, Dr Fernandez says that companies should select the right technology according to their specific business needs, and should identify use cases that can provide company benefits in the short term. These technologies for each business area should then be extended and deployed.

But one vital concern with respect to Big Data and AI is quickly addressed by Dr Fernandez. And that's the risk of losing our jobs to these quickly burgeoning technologies.

“Big Data & AI is a big change for companies and society. People should learn about and adapt to a new way of working. This is a great opportunity for people and companies.”

However, Dr Fernandez adds that this risk exists not only for people, but also for companies. “Companies have to implement these technologies to compete in their markets and people have to learn and adapt to the new environment.”

Looking at the latest and future developments of Big Data and AI, Dr Fernandez says that from an AI perspective, recent developments have focused in Deep Learning. “We have better and new algorithms to solve interesting problems in many fields such as e-commerce, industry, and banking.”

“Meanwhile, on the Big Data side, recent developments happened in more efficient technologies for real time and streaming analytics.”

While a look ahead at the far future is difficult to gauge (“technology evolution and future trends are very unpredictable”), Dr Fernandez says that in the near future, we can expect a massive adoption of these technologies across all industries. “In my opinion, one of the most important disruptions is coming is in health care.”

“In terms of technology itself, I think Big Data technologies will be more efficient with new developments in real time, IoT sensors, machine to machine…”

“From an AI perspective, new algorithms and the combination of intelligence and automation will be the focus for the near future: auto-driving vehicles, drones, business process automations…”

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