Artificial Intelligence is the most important technology transformation of the moment and we need to be cognisant of its capability to change society. Indeed ‘digital’ is not about technology. Digital is not an instrument, but a way of ‘seeing’ the world and the key themes emerging are connectedness, transparency, speed, agility, and experimentation.
The impact on two fundaental business processes (acquisition and engagement) is notable. Acquisition will see businesses use the benefit of AI to profile, target, approach and conversationally sign-up citizens in an omni-channel environment. Engagement will mean that businesses will deploy AI to create proactive, ongoing dialogue with customers, rather than one-off, reactive, or transactional interactions. This leads to improved service as an obvious starting point. It allows for better customer satisfaction which translates into longer retention cycles and richer Customer Lifetime Value. AI solutions improve engagement elastically through peaks in demand, yet consistently display empathy.
Yet, as machines are becoming less artificial and more intelligent, they will rely less on bottom-up big data and more on top-down reasoning that more closely resembles the way humans approach problems. In turn this sees the usefulness of AI increase as it moves from narrow domain to decision-support making AI relevant in scenarios which seemed unsuitable only months ago.
This rapid expansion of AI means that restrictions are mainly environmental (such as computing power) and regulatory (data privacy, security). Yet, assuming, as we did, that ‘digital’ is not an instrument but a way of ‘seeing’ the world, there are three key themes emerging in the future that we must watch:
- The future of jobs will be different. With automation becoming an important vector of change, employability will be less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn and adapt over time.
- Businesses will need to focus more on data. Data allows you to create a profile to better understand your citizens and predict needs based on known patterns. However, what is even more critical than capturing data is making it actionable.
- Ethical AI. Innovations ushered in with haste may have unfortunate (and unintended) consequences that erode societal trust. Therefore, the management of pro-privacy requirements and the wider necessity of improving our educational framework to one which promotes ethics in technology and innovation is key.
First published on Fortune Magazine, October 2022