Once you get over the mental image of renegade robots or Matrix-esque digital overlords, the concept of artificial intelligence (A.I.) becomes both more approachable and more intriguing. Whether it’s in the form of besting the world’s foremost tactical genius in the hardest board game known to man, titans of heavy industry utilizing it, chatbots inventing their own negotiation language, or Google upending the job searching process or refocusing consumer photography, A.I. is having a moment. A big moment. IBM made a huge bet on the nascent industry when it pivoted to Watson and cloud services as the twin engine powering its economic future as the company transitioned into more of an SAAS operation. Across the board, major tech players like Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, IBM, and so on are utilizing A.I. or A.I.-like technologies to propel their businesses forward.
But — just because you may use a neural network to crunch some data does not make you an A.I. company. Far from it, in fact.
Being an A.I. company goes far beyond simply using some tools associated with artificial intelligence. Just because you might possess some valuable data, and you’re training machines to learn with it does not make you an A.I. company. Just because you’re integrating into a voice recognition system for ease of user experience does not make you an A.I. company. No, being an A.I. company is a mindset that pervades the entire firm. It consumes your thoughts and guides your strategy. Now, that’s not to say every decision should be made with A.I. in mind. Enterprise A.I. exists to help us achieve our business ends, so in that way it is an intermediary only — not an end goal in and of itself. But, by retraining your company to think and act like an A.I. company could be just the thing that propels it into a more prosperous future.
Andrew Ng would know — he’s one of the founders of the Google Brain team and has served as the chief scientist for Chinese tech giant Baidu. In a recent interview with Venture Beat, he said, “You’re not an AI company because there are a few people using a few neural networks somewhere…. It’s much deeper than that.”
As described in VB, in Ng’s view, while “it’s possible to create a website for a shopping mall, that doesn’t make the mall an internet company. In much the same way, just implementing basic machine learning does not make a standard technology company (or any other business) an AI company.”
Ng identified four (4) key elements to becoming a true A.I. company. They are:
Not every company should be an A.I. company. But, just because you have a smidgen of A.I. under the hood does not make you an A.I. company either. To truly be thought of and labeled as such, you have to fundamentally change the way you think about problem solving, corporate governance, development protocols, assigning value systems, the works. If that’s something you want to become, we can help. We’re the innovation experts. But if not, we understand. That’s fine too. Either way, it pays to know what separates the real A.I. companies.