Accenture: human and AI, the future of business growth
Business Chief takes a look at the current business landscape and how artificial intelligence can be used to innovate, grow and maximise profits.
Referred to as the ‘post digital era’ by Accenture the current business landscape consists of a league of 21st century trailblazing enterprises that are successfully leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
Whilst there is an increase in businesses realising the business value of AI, Karthik Venkataraman, Head of AI, Data and Intelligent Automation for Accenture in Africa has seen that “most have only implemented it in certain areas of their business and our understanding of it remains limited.”
“So, as our knowledge of AI matures in this post-digital world, we foresee that businesses will move beyond deploying AI in pockets, to integrating it with their very strategic and operational DNA, to unlock their full potential and gain a competitive advantage.”
Three board level discussions relating to the adoption of AI
What are the possibilities and limitations of AI
Venkataraman explains that businesses who have typically derived optimal value from AI are those that are digital by design. However for others the use of AI on an enterprise level remains an aspiration.
“AI and advanced analytics are increasingly recognised as key pillars in the digital strategy of organisations. The use of AI in pockets within the organisation is important as far as demonstrating internal capability and gaining incremental benefits go, but to get ahead of the increasing disruption and competition in the times we find ourselves in, businesses will have to rapidly increase their knowledge on AI, and make AI capability one of the key cornerstones that their businesses are built on.”
What is the role of data in AI
Data - the foundation of AI and machine learning systems. As a result businesses will have to use the right technology and techniques to ensure they gather the right data, have the right platforms and the right quantity.
“With gathering data though, comes the huge responsibility of data governance and security. Businesses must ensure they have up to date policies and processes in place to govern how their data is collected, used and shared, across the entire organisation and they must be completely transparent about the way they collect, use and share their data – all with a significant degree of automation to minimise human biases and errors.”
The role of humans in AI
When it comes to achieving the strategic and operational goals and objectives of a business, Venkataraman explains that humans will have critical roles to fulfil:
• Humans will need to train AI systems with the right data
• Humans will need to be able to explain how AI arrives at particular decisions
• Humans will need to monitor whether AI fulfils the purpose it was designed for
Unleashing ultimate potential
“Ultimately, people will always remain the greatest asset of any business as they are after all the ones who create the business’ vision, and are able to see that vision through, right through from conceptualisation to execution,” says Venkataraman.
In a ‘post digital era’ business should continue to leverage AI for executing the mundane and repetitive tasks to free up people’s time, while effectively utilising the extra time.
To derive the full benefit from AI investments, Venkataraman further explains that businesses need to expand their AI capability beyond the automation of parts of their workflow. “Instead, they need to make it a generative part of the process that proactively enables collaboration between man and machine and that supports and drives tangible business results.”
“Top businesses worldwide are fast debunking the myth that robots are designed for replacing humans, by proving that robots are indispensable for protecting humans by fulfilling “dirty and dangerous” tasks,” says Venkataraman.
With robotics evolving into no longer being contained to the factory floor, the tasks completed by robots range from collecting and packaging radio-active waste and lifting heavy objects, to working in toxic, contaminated environments by Autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and other robot-driven machines, which are poised to accelerate with the adoption of 5G.
For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”