Go, Europe, Go – AI is speeding up the development of growth businesses

AI is reality. For increasingly more businesses, AI is already an essential tech layer for developing services and products such as smart phones or computers. AI is used across the value chain for products and services and starts to penetrate even deeper into all kinds of organizations, businesses and industries.

AI offers huge potential for any business, both in terms of optimisation and of business creation. A practical example within the finance sector is performing credit risk assessments, monitoring a customer’s payback life cycle or interacting with the customer. A rising trend is for banks and insurance companies to use more AI-based chat bots in customer interactions. I believe that chatbots will become a primary means for customer interaction in the finance sector. This leads to a situation in which traditional finance business transactions, e.g. with the banking sector, might be facilitated only through AI interfaces, and won’t need to go through the bank anymore, such as logging into your bank account online and performing a transaction. It creates a challenging scenario for existing business model.

To position your company at the competitive edge, you need to keep a close eye on what´s going on globally. In Asia, WeChat and Alipay are the most commonly used B2C finance transaction systems that use facial recognition without physical money or credit cards.

Faced with the fast pace of global development, my biggest worry is that businesses in Europe are increasingly lagging behind when embracing AI technology and investing systematically and proactively into AI.

Why are we behind? One reason is that many Eu- ropean industries have traditionally not set out to be data-driven. And we don´t have global giants who drive AI development , such as Microsoft, Baidu, Alibaba, Amazon or Google.

Another reason is that data accessibility enables AI machine learning algorithms to be trained efficiently and, to make decisions in a more efficient manner. Due to GDPR, our data are not flowing as easily as elsewhere. GDPR has the right spirit and we need to find a practical way for individuals to manage their own data rights, while also building AI that is easy and clear for businesses to implement – since the path to data is already paved with unclarity and uncertainty.

As a business leader, my recommendation is that instead of shutting our eyes to AI, it is now time to choose how to utilize AI since those who own the next wave of innovative AI technologies will also own significant economic and political power in shaping the next industrial revolution and our society.

Where to start? Here is one of my three guidelines: From a strategic perspective your leadership and board must be committed to understanding AI’s business impact and how to include employees in the process of using AI since it will change business processes and work flows. Focus on what position your business will take in the emerging AI ecosystem. How do you want to use transactional data from customers and improve the customer experience through technologies like chatbots? How do you want to personalize and adapt your services dynamically? Which products or services do you want to create that require unique human skills and automation, or augmentation of tasks which require processingof a high volume of data, where AI can act as ”a little helper”? Finding the right balance between these two can offer your business a competitive edge and maximize value for your customer.

Christian Guttmann (PhD) is the Executive Director of the Nordic Artificial Intelligence Institute.

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