Artificial intelligence continues to be the talk of the world, with its popularity and adoption showing no signs of slowing down. It is predicted it will continue to drive improvement across operational and client offerings for businesses, as well as transforming the way we work and live.
Like many major players within the travel industry, here at TBR we are utilising data and taking our steps in harnessing applications of machine learning to discover new ways to improve internal efficiencies and ultimately enhance the customer journey and experience. To learn more about the ever-growing importance of AI, newly appointed Chief Technology Officer, Lukasz Biegus, along with 40 like-minded innovation experts, recently attended The Herald AI Business Breakfast, hosted in Glasgow’s Everyman Cinema.
The introduction delivered by Gordon Stevenson, Digital Transformation Director for Newsquest Scotland (Herald) touched on the role of AI in the news publishing industry. At present several news items related to, for example, sporting events are already written by AI thus making news production more economical. The keynote speech by Dr. Adam Sroka, Data and AI Director at Incremental Group addressed a summary of AI applications in manufacturing, retail, insurance, banking, and customer services including a very impressive demo of Microsoft Cognitive Services being used in real-time to take an order from a McDonald’s drive-through customer. The technology was capable of picking up and structuring all data needed to process the order, whilst the customer was having a regular conversation with their server. This is a great example of AI being used to enhance rather than replace humans.
Whilst many of the keynote examples came from large corporations, it was apparent that data is at the core of many businesses and is a foundational concept that enables the execution of AI applications. Current available AI tools from Microsoft, Google and open source communities allow businesses of all sizes to adopt new technologies; however, the SME focus remains on process automation using some AI tools, rather than full-blown business transformation through AI.
Lukasz found the subject of AI discussed in the context of its perception by politicians, business leaders and the general public also very interesting. The hypothesis focuses on AI being neither a solution to all problems, nor an existential threat that is out there to overtake all human jobs. AI will force changes, but it will take some time, which should be used productively to ensure everyone is well educated in what AI actually does and how to best leverage it. The technology skills gap we experience in Scotland could be bridged by embracing AI and ensuring we have a more gender-balanced workforce.
With that remains the premise that as technological developments continue to evolve, changing the way we work and live, businesses, their customers and their people should remain adaptive and responsive to the new opportunities and solutions they bring.
If you want to be part of a team of like-minded innovation experts, check out our IT vacancies over on our new-look people and culture hub.