In recent years, mobile networks, big data, and cloud computing have made significant impact on our economy. Following down the rabbit hole, machine learning, and artificial intelligence together with today’s implementation of sensors and real-time measurements can contribute with the development of concepts such as smart cities, more efficient power solutions, alternative transport and radical changes in today’s production processes.

Due to AI’s major potential, going forward I think it will change many aspects of how we do business, mainly by enabling new possibilities to react to client requirements and market conditions. As a result, it will enable companies to remain competitive and increase profits by exploration. Building on the idea, AI will aid us in taking the next step in clever systems, concretizing the man-machine concept and help solve humanitarian challenges with economical benefits as these opportunities are explored.

I believe AI is the driver of transformational change and that we are just starting to explore its enormous potential; Many companies worldwide still wonder where exactly AI could create value or how to even start taking advantage of it.

Microsoft conducted a survey regarding Artificial Intelligence in Europe, receiving input from AI leaders in 307 companies scattered across 7 sectors and 15 countries in Europe. The study revealed that 93% of companies are planning or have already implemented artificial intelligence solutions. The Norwegian respondents include domestically known companies such as Kongsberg Gruppen, Sbanken, Komplett, DNB, Statkraft and Gjensidige Forsikring.

At the same time, most are in an early phase, where they emphasize automation and improvement of existing processes. Machine learning is by far the most widely used artificial intelligence technology today.

One of the companies that have participated in the study and which uses artificial intelligence to create new business areas is the Sbanken. In addition to using artificial intelligence to develop automated savings and investment advice, there are a number of other areas they see great potential in. From categorizing customer transactions to giving customers a good overview of their own consumption, churn analysis and prediction, to improvement of risk models and scoring. One of the advances the technology has made is the ability to understand language and context significantly better than just a few years ago, this contributes to more meaningful automated services towards the end customer at Sbanken.

«We are not looking to develop a separate AI strategy; AI is part of our toolbox, applied to solve various problems and challenges. We do not consider the use of AI as an end in itself «

-DNB, Financial services group

Through my own profession, I have experienced that companies novel to machine learning lack a dedicated team working with AI, therefore the need for hired expertise arises to address the challenges associated with AI as a new, attentive and high demand field, not to forget demanding.

How would the situation have changed if businesses without AI teams had allocated resources and dedicated a team to AI development? The biggest change lies in how the business perceives AI technology, how they utilize it and the company’s overcoming expectations of the advantages and disadvantages it brings. All of this, provided that the company practice mature patience towards the results AI and machine learning provides, post first phase. I have previously learned that businesses do not have the same understanding of the life cycle of using AI and machine learning as the experts in the field, where this challenge creates a gap between the parties.

AI vs other digital priorities

From the survey, it is revealed that there are several companies in Norway that are engaging in successful pilot projects and Proofs of Concept (PoC), or have established AI initiatives that are released into production. Regarding their prioritization, respondents in Norway consider, on average, AI slightly more important than other digital priorities, a ranking which falls marginally above the European aggregate. However, only 5% of the companies report AI to be the most important digital priority. The respondents of the survey are also focusing on collecting and storing the right data and building their general digital strategy. These results suggest that, although AI is not the highest digital priority with some of the companies, it is gaining importance and companies are taking the steps necessary to move their AI initiatives forward.

What do business leaders need to pay attention to when implementing AI?

  1. More than half of Norwegian companies expressed their concerns regarding regulatory requirements, especially, the need for clear guidelines and regulations regarding AI, which is somewhat undefined. Without such clarity, investment in AI can be perceived as risky for companies. The main reason being that they may invest in technology that is allowed at the time but not later on. Norway shares this concern with other European countries surveyed. Regulatory requirements was one of the top three risks for almost all of them.
  2. Due to the rapid change in AI technology, companies fear that a technology they invest into might be outdated before achieving its expected return on investment (ROI). Additionally, as with any system, it requires planned and unplanned maintenance, including updating its servers and the data it uses. Companies give clear indications that it is difficult to demonstrate business cases with small pilot tests, and therefore, hard to know where to invest initially and over time.
  3. In vast amount of data, information overload may occur when trying to figure out what is useful and identifying insights or establishing predictive trends. Working with such large amounts of data requires consideration for the users looking for understandable, actionable results. Companies are considering both the technical aspects of working with very large datasets and the human aspects of interpreting the results in a real-world, business context, when implementing AI.

Follow the Money

Over $30 million invested in AI start-ups in Norway in the past decade. In Norway, there were only five transactions over the past decade involving companies working with AI. Of these, 3 reported deal value totaling $30 million according to the report. This implies that the actual amount is higher. A large portion of this amount was the $25 million investment in Arundo Analytics. Interestingly, the small amount of deals in startups in Norway is somewhat compensated for by Norwegian investors, mainly venture capital firms, involved with 11 transactions in AI start-ups outside of Norway. There is also Innovation Norway. that will contribute to growth in Norwegian business and industry through both their financial support and expertise.

About the writer:

Asif is currently working as Senior Data Engineer at Capgemini, with education and professional experience from several technical and scientific disciplines within industry and academic research. Asif has worked as a solution architect and designed both on-prem and cloud-based solutions in different projects. Future goals are to gain experience in AI and cloud with team management in focus. Asif has Master degree in Informatics from University of Oslo with a specialty in programming. He has done his research paper at Simula Research Laboratory in Oslo focusing on using machine learning for Polyp detection. Other interests involve, playing squash and hanging out in cafeteria for long and valuable discussions.

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