Are We Running Out Of Ideas?

As the pace of disruption accelerates, there is an increasingly important focus being put on innovation. Now along comes some work published in the MIT Technology Review by economists from MIT, Harvard, and Boston University, “AI is reinventing the way we invent,” that highlights how the increasing amount of data and increased need for researchers and analysts are providing barriers to the creation of new ideas. While stating the obvious — that AI can radically outperform humans at discovering patterns in complex data — these economists link this fact with the opportunity to use AI as an engine for identifying new ideas that serve as the core for new innovation. AI provides stepwise improvements beyond traditional big data techniques that have yielded increased customer retention at Verizon Wireless and oil field production in a medium-sized US oil company. The application of AI raises the bar, filling in for scarce (and expensive) humans and accelerating drug discovery, crop yields, and semiconductor design — driving market disruptions in what Forrester calls the artificial intelligence race.

Monkeys And Shakespeare

Researchers make their name by finding opportunity and insight where no one else sees it. In the scientific community over the past few years, researchers have been using machine learning (ML) to analyze large data sets and deliver new insights. Unfortunately, it turns out that these new insights may not be all they are cracked up to be, with one analysis suggesting that up to 85% of all biomedical research carried out in the world is wasted effort. In a recent BBC article, Dr. Genevera Allen from Rice University in Houston said that the increased use of ML systems is contributing to a “crisis in science.” The doctor believes we are seeing a reproducibility crisis in which the ML-based insights are not being replicated by other scientists and their analyses. This points to the challenge with AI. Given a large enough data set, ML will find an answer, so the question is whether you can trust the answer you are getting. Trust is a critical dimension in our robotics quotient (RQ) that you will need to understand so that your AI and ML investments deliver as intended and do not just give results for the sake of results. After all, if you give a million monkeys a million typewriters and give them a million years, they will eventually type Shakespeare.

Daimler’s Digital Business Platform Strategy Empowers The Ecosystem

To best capitalize on the age of the customer, your business needs to shift to a digital platform strategy that helps you increase the frequency, relevance, and value-add of your customer interactions. A market where this has become a fast-growing trend is transportation. Last year, Volkswagen signed a partnership with Microsoft to leverage Azure as its platform foundation. Now, Daimler has announced the same. Core to its platform strategy is data aggregation, which in Daimler’s prior model was hindering business insights and customer engagement. Its Center of Excellence has now launched eXtollo, a new cloud-based data platform, leveraging AI to improve customer insights and using Azure’s Key Vault to ensure data safety. The initial values that the company has achieved with this new platform have empowered its sales, marketing, and finance divisions and are driving future mobility solutions. Further, the strategy is now empowering distributors and service partners. To learn more, join Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management at Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in their session at Mobile World Congress next week.

Experiences Are The Foundation For Great Transformation

Foot Locker has been on a three-year journey to digitally transform. Ahead of the program, Foot Locker realized that its customers no longer differentiated by channel, so it focused its transformation on the experience that customers have when engaging with Foot Locker. Experience-led transformation provides a more valuable approach to redefine your company in the age of the customer, as it prioritizes digital investments with the customer as the focus; aligns metrics, teams, leaders, and budgets to get everyone and everything on the same page; and motivates investments in operational excellence to create end-to-end value. Foot Locker’s approach started with connecting data across the enterprise to provide the foundation for insights into the customer and to provide the back-end support for the front-end solutions. And Foot Locker’s approach actively connected groups as far and wide as merchandising, IT, and customer experience to ensure the alignment in goals and focus that was needed to achieve success. What’s most interesting about the alignment is that the exec in charge was Pawan Verma, the chief information and customer connectivity officer. What an idea: bringing the customer and technology under one roof to create value for the enterprise.

The Successes Driving India v2.0 Are Creating New Pressures As They Grow

Last week was the latest edition of NASSCOM’s Technology & Leadership conference in Mumbai. The event showcased the transition that the Indian tech market is undergoing. With the advantages of the labor cost arbitrage model waning over the past years, Indian firms have been rapidly, and quite successfully, transitioning to positions of strength leveraging technology and innovation. As evidence, notice that the market cap of TCS is now essentially equal to IBM — while TCS’s revenue is only 25% of Big Blue. And it doesn’t stop there: India has the second-strongest tech services sector in the world save for its US-based competition. Lots of goodness going on! However, as automation and AI are used to reduce the number of people to deliver a service, Indian companies will be in a race to redeploy those people into higher-value-added products and services. Will they be able to do so with significant challenges such as falling headcounts, reskilling/upskilling, and finding the right talent from the start?