Recent disruptions and the pace of change with AI has accelerated. New elements get in the focus as the battlefield is getting more competitive. Rewiring the operations with an “AI state of mind” may change the approach to think about business. 2022 will be a crucial year in winning with AI.
We’ve seen a lot of turbulence and opportunities over the last 18 months. It has been a special time where disruptions have been stretched and digitization been accelerated. We’ve seen several new AI pilots that have been implemented, leveraging new analytics approaches for better prediction and an expansion of several use cases. Deep learning language models such as GPT-3 have been released in 2020 by OpenAI and can handle 175 billion parameters (which enables algorithms to deliver a very high level of accuracy). This mind-blowing performance delivered by teams out of the Silicon Valley has already been caught up by the new Chinese PanGu-Alpha which can handle 200 billion parameters (unveiled by Huawei in April 2021). And the latest news hint that GPT-4 will handle 100 trillion parameters (which is as many parameters as the brain has synapses!). AI is clearly becoming one of the battlefields that must be tackled to lead the global digital competition.
Three changes to consider for 2022
The disruption is not yet over, and the competition will get harder. Specific trends will start to emerge more clearly during 2022. There are 3 critical points to observe that will influence the way companies will transform:
- The strategic AI rewiring
- The AI scaling
- AI, society and regulations
The strategic AI rewiring (or rearchitecting firms)
The most advanced companies that are changing the landscape are not just adding a couple of AI use cases to upgrade pieces of their value chain. They are not limiting themselves to roadmaps that are implementing a set of functional or technical upgrades. They are rather rethinking their way to operate with an agile “AI state of mind” at the core. Their leadership team have changed their lenses and are focusing on how the future can be rethought, disconnecting themselves partly from the legacy and their historical ways of operating1.
Let’s take the example a multinational pharmaceutical firm, that has transitioned from a typical drugmaker to an AI-enabled company. The CEO hosted a three-day leadership session with a team of 150 direct reports to reflect with all leaders the key industry changes, innovation trends and to brainstorm paths for disruption. New data, AI and analytics leaders were nominated to develop and drive an AI change program. The company structure has been flattened and power shifted to the team on the front enabling them to act on new AI insights swiftly. This is of course a significant shift of mind that requires a strong leadership drive in rearchitecting the firm to rethink deeply the processes and operating model leveraging AI.
The AI scaling
Most CEOs recognize the potential of AI for the business and the potential it can bring to them. But even with a bright strategy and a strong leadership ready to change, one of the main obstacles to execute remains the limited set of skills available. The WEF study about the future of work (October 2020)2 recognizes Data Science, AI and Machine Learning as the fields that will require the highest demands.
The key success factor will be:
- the right mix between the breadth of skills,
- the practical experience of the team to mix multiple technologies and
- the ability to lead the team to generate impact.
Many organizations are still struggling to recruit, grow and manage the dynamics of these teams. A “garage mindset” combined to agility and a rigorous discipline is often key to navigate and deliver dynamic roadmaps. Finding the right talent and team mix will be one of the key challenges in 2022.
AI, society and regulations
As AI is getting more pervasive, the global competition more aggressive and the impact on the society increasingly obvious, several initiatives have been undertaken to put more regulation and shift to fair and good AI. The tremendous opportunities that AI brings have been recently harmed by derailments in the extended use of AI for society, harming liberties and privacy in different parts of the world. Subliminal or manipulative techniques, real-time and remote biometric public identification systems and any forms of social scoring are clearly not acceptable and have led to increasing the doubt and trust in the technology. In order to mitigate this erosion and specific risks, the European union is being drafting new regulations, which could be a first important step toward more global AI regulations3.
Given the broad set of AI opportunities for the people and the society, it will be critical to shape such transformations and proactively mitigate the risks through the right AI governance mechanisms. Fair, transparent, and unbiased AI will be key for our future. Ethics will be influencing regulations to enable a sustainable AI where people and algorithms work and complement each together for the better. Companies that want to leverage extensively AI technologies will need to assess their impact on society and follow the evolving regulatory changes.
Hype, hope, or revolution?
The combination of the shifts that are occurring in parallel demonstrates that this is not about hype anymore. The significant investments being done in this field and the global competition for performance is accelerating several implementations, changing the way companies and organizations are operating. The US, the EU and the OECD wouldn’t be regulating and involve several experts to develop recommendations if it would only be “hype”.
Although we see an acceleration in the performance of AI technology, this is not a full revolution yet. It is more about an accelerated evolution. It opens the door to several accelerated changes using technologies where human and machine do more together. There is hope for several new opportunities for the business and for the society that are already starting to change our way of life.
Co-founder and CEO – Accelerating Impactful Digitization
Montassar BenMrad is Co-Founder of Artifact SA and CEO. He has more than 20 years of experience in data and strategy consulting. He has been actively engaging with a large number of clients, leveraging emerging technologies to address business challenges, develop new business models and delivering complex projects successfully. He is passioned about the future of AI and analytics, and how to deliver impact with data science.
Accelerating Impact with AI & Data Science
Spearheading in AI & Data Science to accelerate impact for your business in Switzerland. Pragmatic analytics services leader for consulting & implementation.