Three Things CEOs Should Know About the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Decision-Making

By Kamal Brar, Vice President and General Manager of Asia Pacific, Hortonworks

Early this year, Alibaba Group launched its AI platform ‘City Brain’ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Run by the Alibaba Cloud division, it plans to make live traffic predictions and recommendations to increase traffic efficiency in Kuala Lumpur by consolidating data gathered from video footage, traffic bureaus, public transportation systems and mapping apps.

It will partner with state agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Kuala Lumpur city council to roll out the technology.

The hype around the use of artificial intelligence in decision-making might make you think it could pilot your company automatically, talk to your suppliers, chase late invoices, and open parcels arriving in the mail room, all while making you a nice cup of tea.

Consequently, until CEOs understand the implications and requirements surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in decision-making, enterprises will not be ready to jump into machine learning in a systematic way. Here are three things that every CEO should understand before they tackle AI at the strategic level.


AI must be aligned with your goals

AI can help your business by automating relatively simple tasks that would take humans 30 seconds or less to complete. It can also look more deeply at data to find patterns that humans may never catch.

These are two very different capabilities, and CEOs must learn how to map them to their businesses by understanding their goals for AI.

Is your goal to reduce bottom-line expenses by automating simple tasks like sorting cucumbers on a production line or reading basic loan agreements?

Or perhaps you are a hospital executive hoping to improve medical outcomes. You might monitor patient movements using wearable devices to predict the immediate risk of a fall. Or you might assist doctors in spotting and diagnosing potential health problems on MRI images.

The use of artificial intelligence in decision-making must fit workflows and formats that make sense for users. This brings user interface, business analysis, and workflow design into play.


Your organization must be data-centric

AI thrives on data.

Data resides in different systems that don’t talk easily to each other.

Power structures can exacerbate this problem, creating political tensions that cause people to hold onto their data.

Breaking down these human and technological barriers takes a mixture of leadership and investment in technology.

A CEO committed to strategic AI will lead from above, enlisting key allies in the organization to help unify its data architecture. A more fluid exchange of data throughout the organization can help with many projects other than AI. It’s a foundational practice for the modern, digital-first organization.


You should pursue strategic partnerships

Understanding which information you need in order to train your machine-learning models requires multiple kinds of expertise. The first is domain knowledge. You need people with an intimate understanding of your organization’s operations and how it uses different kinds of information to achieve specific outcomes. The second kind of expertise involves data science. Data scientists work with data engineers to extract, manipulate, and prepare data for AI workloads.

Partnering with product and service providers that have a track record of navigating the AI design, development, and deployment process is a proven way to help overcome these AI hurdles and drive your business to success. Good partners will have the technical and business understanding to assist with the use of artificial intelligence in decision-making

In such a nascent and fast-moving field, it pays to have specialist expertise to help guide you in your journey. The results could get your business well ahead of the curve, while others try to grapple with the problem in-house.


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