AMA
Playbook

3 Perspectives on Emerging Technologies in Business

February 4, 2019

Technologies

AMA’s Edgewise podcasts with technology experts have explored some of the tech advancements affecting management and business. Here are three trends for managers to consider:


H. James Wilson on human-machine collaboration
Managing director of information technology and business research, Accenture Research

“In terms of a continuum of adoption, I’d say we’re really in the early days of human and machine collaboration. About 80% of large enterprises today are experimenting with AI, but they really tend to focus on the automation side of the equation…. I think now the interesting news is that about 9% of enterprises today that are adopting AI are very much focused on human-machine collaboration. And we find again and again in our research and work that teams of humans and machines really outperform pure automation….

“One thing that we’re seeing here is that the greater the degree of organizational investment and focus on human and machine collaboration, the better the outcome. Enterprises that design and implement AI to really maximize those human-machine connections outperform those that focus on just developing people or just implementing automation, often by 6x or more in areas like decision making….

“I think what we’re seeing is really a group of leading companies that are ushering in a new era of what we call business transformation, and it’s one that’s focused on human and machine collaboration. The last era, kind of the PC era, the era of reengineering and knowledge management and virtual collaboration, was still really the automation era. We really see that there is this new era that’s emerging around human-machine collaboration in terms of management history.”


Ajay Agrawal on the use of artificial intelligence in prediction
Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and professor of strategic management, University of Toronto

“The reason that economists think AI is so interesting—that it’s a technology in a very different category than virtually anything else that we’ve seen in the last 25 years—is because the thing for which it reduces the cost is such a foundational input. We use it everywhere, and that’s prediction.

“Once we take all the razzle-dazzle of AI and reduce it down to the rise of AI being recast as a drop in the cost of prediction, then we can use all our familiar tools in economics to figure out what to make of it. In other words, we know how to deal with something when the cost of it falls. So there’s a set of things that follow when the cost of something plunges.

“That’s effectively what the modern renaissance in AI is. It’s a prediction technology. And we define prediction quite broadly. Prediction is taking information you have to generate information you don’t have. It’s what we would traditionally think of prediction, like forecasting, so taking last month’s sales and predicting next month’s sales. But it’s also things like taking an image, a medical image of a tumor, and classifying the tumor as benign or malignant. We would call that prediction too. It’s taking information we have, which is…the pixels and the medical image, and generating information we don’t have, which is the classification information of what kind of tumor that is.”


Chuck Martin on the third wave of digital transformation
CEO, Net Future Institute

“[After the Internet and the mobile revolution], the third wave, which we’re going through right now, is the Internet of Things…. This is really about the connectivity of things being connected to other things, and that goes all the way from smart homes to smart offices to smart cities, smart states, smart cars—pretty much smart everything. And that means billions and billions of connected devices, which will basically change all of consumer behavior….

“The winners in this, I look at two big categories. One are retailers. Right now, the state of retail is that a retailer doesn’t really know who comes into their store, so they can’t identify a good shopper, a loyal customer, someone who’s just coming in for the first time. What the Internet of Things does is it starts to connect all of the channels together…. The retailer is going to be capturing much more insight into the behavior of the consumer so they can start to provide more relevant products and services to that consumer.

“The second major beneficiary is the actual consumer themselves, because consumers all of a sudden are going to be in the driver’s seat. The consumer, instead of being aggregated by a company—so ‘These are my loyal customers. I’ll treat them better’ or whatever—it’s going to be the consumer actually aggregating the businesses to say, ‘These are businesses that serve me well, so I will select them as my loyal businesses, and I will be loyal to them.’ And that changes everything in terms of opt in, opt out, all those kinds of things.”

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