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According to Tech Pro Research “53 percent of business users are not clear on what they expect from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning projects”. This was the main focus of a panel discussion hosted by ZDNet and Vivid that Team Mobi attended last week.

Held at the stylish Museum of Contemporary Art at the Rocks, the event saw a mix of digital agencies and business come together to enjoy the stunning sixth level views of the harbour before heading in to hear from an expert panel about the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on business, now and into the future.

Hosted by technology journalist Nicole Manktelow, the session focused on the reality behind AI and how it can be adopted successfully by companies.

The rest of the tech experts on the panel included: Amit Bansal MD, Analytics Delivery Lead APAC & AI Deliver Leader from Accenture; UTS Executive Director of Data Science Fang Chen; Microsoft Australia’s National Technology Officer Lee Hickin; current CNET Editorial Director Jason Hiner and Tech Research Asia Founder and Director Tim Dillon.

Each panellist brought a unique perspective on the future possibilities of tech and it’s impacts on businesses across different industries. In Australia, AI is currently being deployed in telecoms, the industrial sector (mining, oil and gas) and of course customer service, with chatbots becoming the first point of call for many customers these days.

Most in the room agreed that there is a certain amount of fear in the workplace regarding replacement by bots – but as Jason Hiner pointed out: “The more AI you integrate, the higher value is placed on actual human services”. Indeed, in a Forbes article last year it was pointed out that even as AI is seen to be taking over, rather than the workplace becoming a battle of robots vs humans it will be robots plus humans.

This idea was further explored by the panel with Amit Bansal talking about initiatives taken by Accenture with regards to retraining employees to have more capabilities.

“Jobs are changing, you’re not necessarily losing jobs — there’s just a big shift in re-training.”

He offered up an in-house AI initiative Accenture worked on with Verizon in the US as an example.

“What we found if you do a chatbot and you do it well, the volume actually goes up, the customer satisfaction goes up, and what we did in that scenario was the people that were taking phone calls, we trained them in AI and what they do is when the chatbot can’t answer a question, it deflects to that individual, that individual then solves the problem talking to a human,” he explained.

Microsoft’s Lee Hickin reaffirmed this point, stressing that the implementation of AI into work environments will augment the human experience rather than replace it altogether.

When looking ahead at what can be achieved when businesses embrace these new capabilities, the panel were excited by the prospect of 5G.

As we’ve highlighted in a previous post, 5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.

Tim Dillon highlighted the fact that along with the US and China, Australia is at the forefront of 5G. He added that one of the great things about the new tech is that it will enable a host of capabilities never before seen, so businesses should be looking at how to capitalise on it.

Despite the optimism from the panel, Australian companies are still reluctant to adopt these new technologies. This can be changed with strong cultural leadership from the top to embrace AI, advised Lee Hickin.

And whilst the panel were calling for more businesses to accept AI, they all agreed that it must only be implemented to solve a problem and have an actual use. You need to know what it is you’re trying to achieve or else you fall into the trap of wasting money on technology your company does not need.

The panel’s final advice for the room included: “Don’t fear AI” from Lee Hickin.

Fang Chen noted that “to achieve the best of AI, you must hold hands with everyone involved”.

Jason Hinter stressed: “Become really great at data.

Tim Dillon drew a large chuckle from the crowd when he said: “Don’t call it AI.” What he was trying to emphasise was that because AI has so many negative connotations in businesses, it’s imperative that leaders speak to everyone in the company and make sure to involve them in the conversations.

Overall, Team Mobi found it to be an enjoyable discussion with Mobiddiction Director, Mike Vasavada saying:

“It was a good event. Interesting hearing about so much uncertainty around AI, however there were not that many practical use cases offered. But, it is new and will take time before a lot of myths are demystified.”

Once businesses are able to finally embrace AI, there is no limit to what can be achieved. If you aren’t sure what technology is best suited for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mobiddiction. Our customised consultancy offering is suited to investigate and meet individual business demands. We’re based in Sydney’s CBD so pop in and see us any time.

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