The hallmark of something game-changing/life-changing is how easily it polarises opinion. There are always two distinct camps: the supporters and the non-believers. No one sits on the fence.
In my opinion AI sits in this category of things. I’ve yet to come across someone who feels that “AI could be the next big thing but I’m not really sure.” One school of thought is that its business value is undeniable and that all businesses are ready for implementation. The other says that its business value is not absolute and that organisations, in general, are not ready for AI.
I’m not a particularly technical person so my understanding of AI is limited. But, if the daily LinkedIn posts are to be believed, AI can recognise faces of employees and order their coffee for them. Oh, and AI is almost always a futuristic looking robot.
This is a tongue-in-cheek assessment because what I do see the value in is Intelligent Automation rather than futuristic AI. And this is where it seems there’s a gulf of misinterpretation between executives who want AI and those who need to actually implement it.
During my research for CDAO Africa and DataCon Africa this year I asked people where they were in their AI thinking. The majority lamented that a C-level executive was pushing AI but with very little understanding of what it would take to actually achieve an AI-driven business. Articles from prominent business publications can drive initiatives that organisations aren’t ready for yet.
But, perhaps the mood is changing. In a survey we’re currently conducting with data analytics professionals we asked respondents two AI-related questions:
- What is the current state of your AI investments?
- Who, if anyone, is driving AI deployment in your organisation?
As it stands 72% are either conducting feasibility studies, are in pre-deployment or are in early implementation. Now, this is probably not that surprising especially if AI is interchanged with Intelligent Automation. Automation has proven benefits and those are enhanced when intelligent decision making is added.
What I find more interesting is that nearly a third of all respondents say that the Data Office is driving the deployment of AI in their organisations. In 38% of the cases AI is being driven by the IT Office (incl. CIO/CTO).
The conclusion here is that the sentiment of data analytics professionals has changed in the last year from the feeling that they’re being forced into AI to becoming the ones who are driving deployment.
I know of a number of CDOs in South Africa who are running with AI/Intelligent Automation.
So, perhaps this is the next logical step in data analytics? Give it to the people who can control the volume and quality of data feeding the machine.
Craig Steward is the Managing Director of Corinium’s MEA business and has been working closely with the data analytics community on the region since late 2015.
Craig’s focused on developing insight and engaging conversations on the rapidly developing use of data analytics in MEA. And is particularly interested in the development of C-level roles within the profession.