If 2015 and 2016 were all about putting together a data-driven business mantra, 2019 and beyond will see organisations ramping up the pace – with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) at the heart of this shift.
That’s according to Bill Bronske, senior solutions architect at technology services and consulting firm Globant. The company, with headquarters in Buenos Aires but offices globally, has a mission which is focused around ‘building digital journeys that matter to millions of users’, in its own words.
Gone are the days when you just built a website or an app and ticked off the ‘digital’ box as done. Globant calls what it provides an ‘omnirelevant’ experience – creating “a deeper relationship with users by delivering memorable experiences that are personalised, time sensitive, and context- and location-aware.”
It is with this in mind that we can consider the impact AI and ML will have. Globant hosted its premier annual conference, Converge, in New York last month, which explored the ethical implications and secrets to the next cognitive revolution in artificial intelligence.
For Bronske (left), it’s no secret as to how AI needs to be played out. Adopt a people-first approach and you’re already on the right track. “I think the right answer is always just to begin with having a people-centric focus,” says Bronske. “I think the qualities of human relationships and augmenting that is so important, and that’s becoming the big rarity in today’s economy.”
Right now, the development of the technology means that while many organisations of all sizes are interested, it is just a case of ‘sprinkling in’ AI capabilities, whether that’s through adding a chatbot which can learn from its conversations, or upgrading analytics. Yet by adopting a people-centric approach, and by leading with empathy, it can be a stepping stone to much greater things.
“In a lot of ways, we see it as an enabler to transform the conversation for our customers,” says Bronske. “A lot of times, a digital agency will fall into the trap of just checking the box or delivering what the customer is asking for. We’re given, because our customers trust us so, the ability to help transform that conversation. Many times, AI and cognition just raises the level of engagement between people and by removing these low level, lower value tasks and obstacles that get in the way.
“That’s the way we really see this moving forward,” adds Bronske. “The more we can do that, the more we can transform that person-to-person connection and augment those human relationships and interactions, our customers are going to trust us even further, which kind of completes that empathy circle.”
For Globant, moving to provide these services has been an organic process from the beginning. “It’s really been an organic progression, beginning with things like data and data analysis,” says Bronske. “Looking at that, then IoT and the proliferation of the Internet of Things and connected devices creating stream analytics, then requiring big data storage and cloud computing services at scale, the tooling necessary to visualise those, then the mobile endpoints, then the presentation of those on the various native platforms and set top boxes.
“It’s really been an organic transformation for us to just lead with empathy for our customers, understanding their business needs, the emotional connection that their customers have to their business, and just enabling that in these various endpoints and different forms.”
But what does this process look like in practical terms? Bronske gives the example of a ‘major’ book reseller who, through an innovative computer vision approach, was able to save significant time – and employee sanity – by auto-generating a list of restocking and shelf maintenance tasks. “You can imagine that if you have 10,000 or more book titles in your inventory, and you need to go and maintain the displays of all of those, it can be very easy for books which should have been pulled or rearranged to get lost or misplaced,” he says.
“This realigns their current staff load, to provide that personalised individualised service to their customers. Rather than performing shelf maintenance, that associate is now walking side by side with a customer making title recommendations, talking about their passion for a certain author or topic.”
Bronske is speaking at the AI & Big Data Expo in Santa Clara on November 28-29 around the concept of the ‘cognitive enterprise’. Which processes are best for cognitive automation (CA) and robotic process automation (RPA)? Again, it is not so much about the processes but the people behind them that will make the best assessment.
“I believe that a business which is truly cognitively transformed becomes a business that really is focused on people,” says Bronske. “We know businesses are working to stay ahead of the competition through process efficiencies, and customer loyalty programs, and even data-driven decisions, but it is that unique human connection and the relationships that exist there that I truly believe is the rarest – and becoming even rarer – commodity.
“If I can see the people that my business touches, specifically my employees in this case, [and see them as] no longer a cost liability but rather a tremendous unique personality and value asset for my brand, I believe that totally changes the conversation, and totally disrupts businesses in a positive way.”
Globant is exhibiting at the AI & Big Data Expo in Santa Clara on November 28-29. Visit them at stand 40 – find out how you can attend here.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and their use cases? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo.