Most headlines on AI focus on self-driving cars, real-time translation, and facial recognition. However, the most immediate opportunity for Australian enterprises is using AI to dramatically upgrade their existing operations, says Gavin Whyte, CEO of Spalla AI.

Apple is reportedly using AI within every division, from marketing and sales to supply chain and distribution. “You can use AI to take away mundane tasks, perform them very fast and at scale,” says Whyte, a former chief data scientist at Deloitte Australia. “You then have an automated artificial intelligence engine guiding and assisting in real-time, and reporting on how your business is performing.”

AI opportunities are quite significant, especially in understanding how customers are interacting with your business, Whyte says. “Understanding the customer journey through the lens of AI is a significantly different model. AI will be able to – in real-time – understand interactions, cross-sell and up-sell, and focus on what is important to drive the business forward.”

The decision-making process enhances human judgment, to allow business stakeholders to improve products. More importantly, they can plan in a very intelligent manner for product enhancements and sales opportunities, Whyte says.

“Understanding financial information from the lens of AI brings a whole new world of security,” Whyte adds.

Once a department is using AI for the heavy lifting, the humans can do higher-order work, says Gavin Heaton, co-CEO of digital transformation agency Disruptors Co. “That allows your teams to use their creativity, their expertise, and their experience to create new value.”

The greatest challenge is knowing how and where to apply AI – a common problem in organisations attempting to do something new, Heaton says. “Typically, there are four dimensions to it – people don’t know if they’re allowed to do something, they don’t know where to start, what skills are required, or how much budget is available.”

Whyte and Heaton are running “AI Summer Camps” in January and February to train innovation teams and senior management in how to spot opportunities for AI. The camps immerse attendees in how to think like an AI, walkthrough proven use cases, and help create AI canvasses for different opportunities in their organization. 

The attendees then rate their own AI canvasses by ROI and ease of implementation.

This process shows that progressive thinkers don’t need a lot of permission to get started, Heaton says. “If you follow a framework, you can move forward really quickly. Then you’re relying on best practices that are already in place.”

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