Knowledge - Insights: Chair Reports

This forum found around a hundred of us back in the red leather seated theatre on the tenth floor of Blue Fin: – a favourite launch pad for many Engage Business Media face to face events.

It was a fine line up and a fascinating day. From my perspective it was one of three events that week on the subject of AI and its impact on customer engagement. I left all three with the same feeling. There is much talk but far less action at this point. Attention has certainly been captured. Expectations have most probably been over stretched as competing solutions ratchet up the claimed benefits. But the medium term view of uplifted productivity benefits coupled with smarter models of customer engagement look certain and compelling to my mind.
The Gartner view
That perspective was expertly laid out by Brian Manusama, global research director for Conversational AI at Gartner. In short, Brian’s compass reads we are at the peak of inflated expectations and therefore due to descend into the infamous trough of disillusionment before self -correcting as characterises the journey of all new technologies.
Hence his advice is to be selective in your use cases. Interestingly Gartner research shows how strongly both customer service and customer engagement feature in early trials of AI empowered solutions.
Another key message Brian gave was that AI is a positive force. It scales people by enhancing productivity. It generates jobs and wealth. To the tune of $2.9 trillion of new business value by 2021 by Gartner’s reckoning.
I picked up that theme later in the agenda looking at the recently released national industrial strategy for the UK. This communicates the vision for UK’s opportunity to leverage an AI driven fourth industrial revolution in which smart supply and demand transforms the cost of manufacturing and tilts the balance away from lowest source of labour to the source of smartest labour – an opportunity to rebuild the UK manufacturing capabilities in certain key niches.
Smart cities, autonomous transport, clean energy are some of the new manifestations of a data driven economy powered by machine learning and other key sub categories of AI – which itself is a leading UK competency if commercialised to our national advantage as recommended in the strategy.

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Chair Report – Ai & Robotics Forum 2017 – Martin Hill-Wilson

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