Producing Business Value from Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming a common part of how modern business operates.

There is increasing use of Proof of Concept (PoC) projects in a range of sectors and applications.

Often these projects are used to build up hype and expectation for a new product or service. Projects involving Artificial Intelligence also usually involve ‘cool’ and innovative concepts, which are used to position businesses as knowledgeable and future-looking.

However, there is also a widespread belief in the power of AI to produce improved business value for employees, shareholders, and positively impact wider society simultaneously. It is a lot to ask of any technology, and the fact is that it can actually be challenging to showcase the tangible benefits of implementing AI.

Even though Artificial Intelligence is becoming one of the most popular search terms on the web, in a business sense, the gap between the hype and the reality remains large for most companies. So, how can organisations overcome the hype and harness the real business benefits of AI?

Business benefits

As a new technology, AI has to deliver real and substantial benefits to the enterprise in order to be deemed successful. This poses a fundamental question to organisations: how AI can be incorporated in everyday operations to not only deliver business benefits, but also improve customer experience, drive revenues and reduce costs simultaneously.

Despite their increasing use, it’s particularly tricky for PoC’s to demonstrate that AI can indeed deliver these advantages. One particular stumbling block that can restrict the scope of funding to AI projects is demonstrating a clear payback on capital investment and generating a positive NPV is almost impossible. So, how can modern businesses overcome this obstacle?

‘AI agile’ methodology

Solutions such as NTT DATA’s ‘AI agile’ methodology can help organisations bridge the gap between AI hype and usefulness. Through an iterative delivery model, the technology has allowed one telecom provider to reduce the time it takes to find network faults by over 50%. Another real-world example comes from the insurance industry, where AI can process hand-written claim forms with 100% accuracy.

It’s essential that this tech is used responsibly, and NTT DATA has formulated guidelines that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to ensure the fair dissemination of AI. These guidelines focus on developing AI professionals and educating users on how to use AI to achieve a sustainable and transparent society. 

The value of algorithms

As the technology gradually develops and improves, the value of AI can be demonstrated through real-life algorithms within a safe ‘pilot’ environment. This allows teams to validate how AI improves their everyday lives for themselves and gives teams the freedom to make tweaks at their own pace should they need to.

Organisations themselves should be responsible for validating the learnings that AI algorithms can provide. This allows relevant teams to consciously learn from this information to improve business value. With linear project management methods, this technique is not possible. 

Although consumers, businesses and regulators can all benefit from big data and AI playing a larger role in our daily lives, we need to tread carefully and ensure any use of AI is safe and has a clear ROI.

As such, the adoption of iterative AI delivery models is crucial to creating a deeper level of confidence in the functionality and value of AI to businesses. Otherwise we run the risk of too many AI projects becoming ‘vapourware’ that fails to deliver benefits to businesses and consumers.

About the Author

Matthew O’Neill, Senior Programme Director at NTT DATA. I lead the Programme Management Service line for NTT DATA UK Impact. NTT DATA UK Impact offers technology and management consulting services. The Programme Management Service line currently consists of over 40 Project and Programme Managers delivering a wide range of projects for our clients across the TMT, Insurance, Manufacturing and Public Sector. I am responsible for the overall quality of Programme Management, delivery and utilization of the team. I also focus on developing our capabilities for our clients across a range of innovative technologies. My practice work across the business ensuring the delivery of over £120m of consulting and IT services.

Featured image: ©Eduard Muzhevskyi