Smart meeting room bookings are just one of the new disruptive techs changing a marketplace ©Maskot/Getty Images
Smart meeting room bookings are just one of the new disruptive techs changing a marketplace ©Maskot/Getty Images

Are you ready for artificial intelligence?

Don’t underestimate the complexity of introducing disruptive technology into your business, CPOs were told

The rise of the machines

The move to artificial intelligence (AI) is taking machines from simply being able to sense what is going on to being able to think, act and ultimately learn, said Tom Woodham, director of leading digital transformation at PwC, at a CIPS Fellows event, Disruptive Technology – what CPOs needs to know.

And with one PwC survey of business leaders showing that 20% are planning to introduce AI into their business in 2019, they should be preparing now, he said. 

He pointed to Amazon, which already credits 35% of its sales to the products that it recommends to users, which shows just how far data and AI have already progressed from simply being able to use data to understand what happened, to ultimately making it happen.

Network to learn, create an AI workforce and move quickly, he advised. And even though procurement does not usually build the AI in a business, offer to become involved from the start.

Charlie Marr, from disruptor firm HeadBox, which uses data and AI to connect businesses with events venues, also encouraged engagement with procurement early on: “If we are hired by the marketing manager they prove the need, and then we go to procurement to build value. If we don’t, they can come in later and want to pull it down.”

Prove the concept early

Proof of concept (POC) is a vital part of the process to establish the needs between business and a disruptive technology provider, agreed the speakers. Richie Barter, CEO of AltViz, whose AI platform captures data and helps to improve processes using machine learning and cloud computing, said workshops can explain pain points and establish if they are solvable.

But whatever you are doing, move quickly, added Woodham: “Design a POC that works quickly, go for it, but know it may not work.”

Change management can’t be underestimated, added Barter: “Get a good partner. If you don’t get it right, stop, and move on.” Issues with current systems may arise. “Are you ripping out procurement that is a core system? If so, go sort that first.”

Neil Garner, of Thyngs, a company that uses a chip that embeds contactless payment or information into physical items, recommended sharing learning, even if it is failure: “Talk about it, tweet about it. It’s important to recognise your failure and then you can change. I know someone who gets out the champagne for the team when they fail.”

Share your learnings

And, because “millions of entrepreneurs” are looking for case studies, CPOs should share their data in a safe ‘sandbox’ environment, a common practice that enables software developers to test coding, he added.

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