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Important thing about AI is being pragmatic – Accenture

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Artificial intelligence is a technology which amazes and confuses, but the value might be getting lost in translation as telcos look for the silver bullet.

Because is it such a complex and powerful technology, firms are often trying to solve the most difficult and complicated challenges with it. This can be a problem according to Emma McGuigan Group CTO of the Communications business at Accenture, as many are finding themselves in over their heads and the technology inaccessible.

In old phrase which applies here is learn to walk before you run. McGuigan pointed that while the trends are changing, some of the early adopters of the technology were trying to solve the big problems before learning how AI is integrated into a business. Just because AI has the potential to be incredibly powerful and complex, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be applied to the little problems first.

“The telcos are looking at the backend now, building the smaller foundations which in turn will build confidence around what you are doing,” said McGuigan. “Then you can start scaling up. By taking the step-by-step you demystify AI and take away the sci fi image. This process takes you to a place where you see the technology as an enabler.”

While it has been a very mysterious technology in previous years, McGuigan feels the industry is starting to get it now. The telcos aren’t using machine learning or other AI components pervasively just yet, but there is evidence it is being understood and taken for what the technology actually is. Yes, there will of course be jobs lost because of AI implementations, but the same could be said about every efficiency project, but it is starting to be viewed as an enabling technology as well.

This is one of the changes which we are seeing in the industry. Big data is now a dated phrase, with organizations starting to look for the right information in the right places. The land grab for information is over and AI is allowing companies to build customer solutions based on data outcomes. This more systematic approach allows companies to create a more coherent roadmap, and translate the insight into more sensible business decisions.

Eventually there will be some incredible AI solutions which could revolutionise the telco space. Customer engagement, sales opportunities and network optimization are areas which should be seen as the prize at the end of the journey. But the little stuff is where every story begins, most people just forget about it.

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