Will artificial intelligence really help business in NZ?

February 2018

photo 1454779132693 e5cd0a216ed3In a recent survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, 83% of respondents believed Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a strategic priority for their business today and 84% thought AI would enable them to gain a competitive advantage. So will AI change the competitive landscape of entire industries within the next five years?

With heavy hitters such as, CNN, Marriot International and the New York Times singing their praises, you can assume that you’ll be coming across AI chatbots more and more in 2018. AI chatbots aren't just for big business, thanks to the focus on user experience, small businesses are now using AI tech to improve operations, connect with customers and increase sales. The use of chatbots in Enterprise-level organisations is already common place, and in 2018, it's likely that they'll become more widespread.

At a day to day level smartphones apps that rely on machine learning and AI are commonplace. Services like predictive text, route suggestions, voice assistants, voice-to-text etc. are growing year-on-year in their usage. According to Huawei, you can compare AI to the advent of steam engines in terms of its capacity to fundamentally change people's lives. Speaking at the Huawei Asia-Pacific Innovation Day last year Director of Intelligence Engineering Felix Zhang said; "If you look at the whole ecosystem, the AI will fundamentally change the phone from the smartphone to the intelligent phone."

Here, Kiwi business HMI Technologies have launched a trial with self-driving buses in Melbourne, many businesses (including us here at 2degrees) are using chatbots to provide customer support, and AI Forum founding member Chapman Tripp recently launched a new AI service for legal due diligence. Air New Zealand too have fast become leaders in using AI technology to develop new products and solutions. So lots of innovation using AI in business is happening right here, in our own backyard.

Then there’s Soul Machine who are really taking things to the next level with ‘Rachel’ - a digital human avatar created by two-time Oscar winner Mark Sagar, now working for Soul Machine based in Auckland. They are bringing technology to life by creating amazingly life-like, emotionally responsive Digital Humans who have personality and character that allow machines to talk to us literally face-to-face! With so many organisations getting behind this technology, it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing a lot more AI used in business in 2018 and it’s already clear that there are significant gains to be made by the businesses who choose to use it.