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Experts proffer solutions to biggest AI challenges

Desan Naidoo, SAS Africa Vice Presidentby AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – IGNORANCE around optimisation, insufficient data or data governance as well as data and analytics skills demand outweighing supply have emerged the major challenges denying businesses making the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI).

According to experts, AI is becoming pervasive in everyday life but many businesses still apply AI for the sake of it, rather than for the sake of real business value.

Addressing delegates at the SAS Road to Artificial Intelligence event, recently-held in Johannesburg, SAS Africa Vice President, Desan Naidoo, said to succeed in a technology-driven economy and derive true business value, organisations needed a blend of data, analytics and collaboration.

“…but they (businesses) face three main challenges when it comes to AI: knowing what to optimise, accessing and preparing data and skills,” Naidoo said.

The executive said any business aiming to start deriving value from AI should start with a small, specific business problem that results in a “quick win.

Gartner, the global think-tank, predicts that global business value derived from AI will reach $1,2 trillion this year, a 70 percent increase from 2017. This is projected to rise to $3,9 trillion in 2022.

“AI is already disrupting successful business models and the wave of disruption has only just started,” said Naidoo.

Prenton Chetty, Senior Manager of Advanced Analytics at Nedbank, said however one of the biggest challenges for businesses was knowing what to optimise.

“The current approach, where humans make decisions based on data outputs, is flawed because human biases quickly creep into the decision-making process,” Chetty said.

The expert said rather, businesses should empower the machines to make decisions based on data and facts.

“But AI has not yet evolved to this point,” he cautioned.

“Until it does, organisations should start by using the data they have available to optimise processes and solve small, specific business problems,” said Chetty.

Larry Orimoloye, SAS Senior Business Solutions Manager for Advanced Analytics and AI, said the fact that businesses collected and processed different data meant the application of AI would be different for each organisation, depending on the problems they need to solve.

Nonetheless, the common goal is to automate repetitive tasks and free up human resources.

“Despite the common goal, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, algorithms are built for specific businesses and specific problems, based on the data available,” he said.

Lack of data or data governance in place is halting the implementation of AI in some businesses.

Rajesh Duvooru, Senior Manager for Artificial Intelligence at Accenture South Africa, said there was no point in companies implementing AI if they did not have these in place.

The Accenture official said the biggest AI challenges lay in getting the data, cleansing and using it.

Duvoruu said to thrive and differentiate themselves in the analytics economy, businesses need to start making decisions based on data and analytics as well as make those insights available to all business users not just the “C Suite.”

The panel at the SAS Road to Artificial Intelligence event pointed out data and analytics skills were in high demand but short supply.

Dr Benjamin Rosman, deep learning and robotics researcher, said educators were focusing on producing flexible graduates who can quickly learn and work with any tool, depending on the business requirement.

Dr Jacques Ludik, the AI expert, said collaborations were key to AI success.

“Businesses need to draw on the skills and experience of a mix of people who can work with many different analytics platforms to produce end-to-end solutions that can be integrated into processes and workflows,” Ludik said.
– CAJ News

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