An AI world to deliver business benefit – Artificial intelligence (AI) presents modern organisations with an indispensable tool to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. Of course, it is not a matter of simply plugging AI into existing processes and systems and getting immediate benefit from it. Instead, decision-makers must examine how to build the internal capabilities and skillsets necessary to help drive this tech intensity.
Irrespective of how companies choose to implement AI, there must be an awareness of the regulatory environment and how this will impact on such initiatives. Considering how rapidly these legal requirements are changing, executives must balance AI projects within the parameters of a data protection framework. While businesses are nervous to expand their use of AI, they also risk being left behind by their industry counterparts if they do not consider how best to leverage the technology across their operating environment.
Technology innovations notwithstanding, those organisations looking to capitalise on AI technologies understand that good data governance begins by ensuring the value of its data is understood and prioritised throughout the organisation.
Take for example how Anheuser-Busch InBev is using AI to drive growth and innovation across its global brewing business. The organisation has built a worldwide analytics platform on the Microsoft Azure Cloud, enabling it to draw data-driven insights about everything from optimal barley growing conditions to drivers of successful sales promotions. It is also rolling out machine learning solutions across functional operational domains. In Africa, like all its other business zones, the business is setting up specific AI talent pools to ensure enterprise-wide agility and enable application development to be repeatable. By using Microsoft Azure to simplify tasks that people are performing every day, the company is making its employees more focused on added-value activities instead of just transactional ones.
Business agility enabling AI
It is by taking such an agile, iterative approach that companies can be successful in working with AI. Through shortening project development cycles, these organisations can use Microsoft AI-driven technologies and adapt to feedback on what works well and what does not.
South African-based ICT company BCX actively encourages staff to innovate and familiarise themselves with new technologies such as AI and others. The organisation is looking to use AI and drive innovations in areas as diverse as the Internet of Things, advanced analytics, and cyber security. By investing in AI technology built on Microsoft technologies, BCX is creating differentiation in the market to meet customer requests on everything from speech and image recognition to natural language processing.
Training for an AI world
The technology itself is just one component. Understanding how to unlock the most value from it is another. To this end, the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State recently introduced Microsoft’s AI programme to address the demand for this technology in the country. This programme is seeing the development of AI engineers with certified skills and hands-on project experience that can more easily be assimilated into the workplace of the future.
The programme, developed by Microsoft and delivered by its partner Gijima, has been designed to pass on the skills employers value and need by teaching young multi-disciplined graduates with limited or no work experience to explore, transform, model, and visualise data, as well as to create the next generation of intelligent solutions.
The 12-month programme tentatively scheduled to open in 2021, will use a blended learning model that includes the integration of self-study, online learning, classroom instructor-led training and a flipped classroom.
Through the Microsoft AI Business School, the company delivers a free master class series that empowers business and government leaders to lead with confidence in the age of AI. It enables AI proficiency that can transform business outcomes using intelligent and advanced technology.
The applications for AI are myriad. From developing autonomous systems to drive more effective search, AI can reinvent how organisations and people engage with the technology world around them. Pioneers like Microsoft and others help create this enabling environment that is only limited by the imagination of the organisations designing the solutions.
Microsoft will speaking and exhibiting at AI Expo Africa 2020 ONLINE – Learn more at https://www.microsoft.com/en-za
Produced by the AI Media Group and with 3000+ community members, AI Expo Africa is now entering its third successful year and is the largest B2B trade focused Artificial Intelligence, RPA & Data Science business conference in Africa. The 2020 edition of AI Expo Africa will run online on 3-4 September 2020 and builds upon the phenomenal success of the 2018 and 2019 events that cemented it as the largest gathering of its kind, with over 1000 registered delegates, decision makers, investors, buyers, suppliers, innovators, SMBs and global brands in the region.
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