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Neil Jacobstein: AI Is The Key Competitive Advantage For Businesses Today

Neil Jacobstein: AI is the Key Competitive Advantage for Businesses Today

Adopting and investing in new technologies early is often the difference between being disrupted and being a disruptor. And, according to AI and robotics expert Neil Jacobstein, the technology that businesses should be focusing on now is artificial intelligence.

Looking at everything from how fast the technology is moving, to the business implications of machine learning and robotics, to the ways executives can transform their businesses to take advantage of this change, Jacobstein’s speeches help stakeholders and organizations harness change and fuel growth.

We talked with Jacobstein about the ways companies are using AI now, what all corporations should be thinking about, and what this all means for human capital as well.

Read through our Q&A with artificial intelligence and robotics speaker Neil Jacobstein now:

Q: What do companies need to know now about AI and Robotics?

A: Most corporations think that they’re “in AI,” that in some places in the company, or perhaps multiple places, they’re using AI. But what really matters is, how are they using AI? Are they using it pervasively throughout the entire corporation, or are they just using it in a few experimental, pilot programs? Most companies can say, ‘Yes we’re using AI.’ But the real question is, how much competitive advantage are you getting from it? And what I like to tell most people about this is that it’s all about staying inside of the decision and action loop of your adversaries, your competitors. And that means you have to move quickly.

Q: You touched on competitive advantage. What should corporations be getting out of an investment in AI?

A: I believe that businesses and meeting planners are looking for ways to increase the competitiveness of their company. AI is the key competitive advantage for a lot of different areas pretty much across the board. Companies can be using AI for things like: better knowing their customer, doing sentiment knowledge on the web, using machine learning for interactions with consumers, for doing product design that’s very responsive to what people want—and even anticipating what people want before they know they want it, like Apple tries to do. AI is also useful for being able to evolve products very quickly in response to customer feedback and using genetic algorithms to evolve a product. So, there are many technologies in AI that can support making a business more competitive.

Q: What about outside of algorithms and consumer research? What are the real-world customer-facing applications of AI?

A: Another thing businesses can do with AI is improve their customer service capabilities. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like banging my head against a wall when I interact with customer service. Either they keep you waiting too long or they keep you waiting and they make you go through these ridiculous voice prompts that are not smart enough to do the right thing. I’m just constantly hitting zero trying to get a human. But, actually, you could build customer service that was more knowledgeable than most of the humans we interact with. You could build something that was very satisfying, and you couldn’t do that 20 years ago.

And we also have much deeper voice interfaces that are more satisfying to use, not the old style, so there are a whole bunch of opportunities now in AI and machine learning that can give a corporation a significant competitive advantage.


Q: What are the implications of all of this on human workers?

A: What I like to say about this is that we are taking an ancient computing architecture, the brain, to an exponential party. And that’s a dangerous thing to do, because it means that we are going to be challenged by how fast things move, and it is the case that the world is no longer a linear world, a 1, 2, 3, 4 world. It’s an exponential world, a 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, doubling every 18-to-24 months kind of world, and our brains don’t deal with that very well. We need augmentation to help us keep up with the flow of events. You need augmentation in the form of cloud services or mobile services.

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