‘More than a productivity tool’: Realising AI’s transformative impact

By Rajasekar Sukumar, Senior Vice President & Head of Europe at Persistent Systems.

  • 2 months ago Posted in

Artificial intelligence has reached an inflection point, with the recent excitement around Generative AI causing virtually every organisation to assess AI’s potential impact, both positive and negative.   

As such, there has been a seismic shift in the perception of AI – it is no longer an emerging technology; it’s a strategic priority. And so, for many business leaders, now marks their first major foray into AI technology.

However, it would be unwise for businesses to blindly jump on the AI bandwagon. Rather, they should aim to identify focused use cases where AI can offer real advantages, whether through boosted productivity or enhanced offerings. Conducting AI assessments as a first priority is the key to making informed decisions about AI adoption – helping companies cut through the hype and understand the realities.

Quick productivity wins

Productivity improvements are often the "lowest hanging fruit" and provide the clearest ROI when implementing AI. At an individual level, AI can free workers from mundane tasks to focus on higher-value work. More broadly, AI-enabled automation, insights, and efficiency can optimise nearly every business function. In short, AI's potential to drive productivity gains is remarkable, but only if applied thoughtfully.

The key is matching the right AI solutions to specific pain points rather than implementing technology for its own sake. With a targeted and strategic approach, the productivity payoff from AI investment can be substantial. But AI is not a silver bullet - it must be carefully integrated to amplify human capabilities, not replace them.

Prioritising high-impact use cases

While AI can certainly optimise processes and boost productivity, its potential extends much further than that in many industries. 

In healthcare, AI-driven algorithms have played an instrumental role in assisting an AI-enabled early lung cancer detection solution, LungLifeAI™, for example. The technology reduced analysis time by almost 70%, fast-tracking diagnosis and treatment to save lives.

In finance, AI is also being utilised to uncover and recommend investment opportunities. AI analytics tools can detect hidden patterns in large datasets faster than humans, accelerating profitable decisions.

Conversational AI can also improve customer service efficiency across a multitude of industries by automatically handling common questions and routine contacts. This reduces repetitive, simple interactions while freeing up human agents to focus their skills on addressing more complex and nuanced issues raised by customers. 

Other emerging use cases range from optimising pricing based on demand forecasting to personalised marketing through next-best-action recommendations. The common thread is augmenting human capabilities rather than full automation. AI is a business enabler, not just a cost-cutting tool. And it is essential to take a measured, ethical approach to ensure a positive impact.

Navigating AI responsibly

While AI holds vast potential, its adoption poses risks without proper governance. AI systems can perpetuate harms like bias and unfairness if companies prioritise progress over prudence. Insufficient data hygiene, transparency, and testing will also lead to system vulnerabilities that could harm companies in the long run.  

The risks of AI span both ethical quandaries and tangible security threats. On the ethics front, non-transparent AI decision-making can inadvertently embed human biases, failing vulnerable demographic groups.

On the security side, irresponsible AI development amplifies dangers like cyber-attacks. With increasingly sophisticated tools available, bad actors are empowered to misuse AI if not deterred through safeguards. And without proper precautions, deploying AI can amplify existing threats, making them even more dangerous.

The consequences of inadequate AI governance range from privacy breaches to legal liability. However, with diligent oversight and testing, companies can ethically tap AI's immense upside while safeguarding against downsides. Core tenets of responsible adoption include layered defences, transparency, and human-centric design considering diverse stakeholders.

Integrating AI safely requires full-lifecycle accountability, not just one-off audits. Ongoing governance must be embedded across the AI development process. While partnering with responsible AI experts is advisable, the onus falls on the companies themselves to ensure oversight.

With sustained, rigorous governance, companies can deploy AI to drive widespread positive impacts, instead of paving the way for adverse outcomes. The choice lies in priorities, not just capabilities.

Unlock AI’s full potential

It’s widely acknowledged that AI represents a key strategic opportunity for business executives. However, the smart path forward is not to view AI narrowly. 

Those who view AI narrowly - as just a productivity tool - risk missing out on transformational opportunities across their business. The prudent path is to build an in-depth understanding of what AI can and cannot achieve and apply that where needed in your business.

With an open mindset and realistic expectations, leaders can identify how AI can strategically enrich their operations, empower their people, and engage their customers.  And AI’s potential can also be harnessed across industries to create step-change improvements in everything from customer experiences to medical discoveries.

Ultimately, any AI adoption must be pursued thoughtfully. Leaders must weigh benefits and risks, implement ethical safeguards, and maintain transparency. 

By instituting strong governance and identifying use cases aligned to strategic goals, companies can unlock immense value. With the right foundation, AI can catalyse innovation across the business.

The AI revolution is here. Forward-thinking organisations will not wait to embrace it.

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