AI is the New Fuel for the Modern Economy

Silicon Republic, the Irish technology news website published the following contribution from CEO John Clancy and Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum member, on supporting the Irish Government’s rollout of the National AI Strategy. 

“AI – Here for Good” is the clever play on words for the title of our National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. It emphasises the Strategy’s focus on ethical and responsible adoption as well as recognising that AI is irrevocably reshaping our economy and society.

Ireland is well placed to be an international world leader in using AI to benefit our economy and society. As a country, we have invested heavily in developing IT talent, entrepreneurship and connectivity. We are also home to some of the world’s largest ICT businesses.

Key to getting there is driving the adoption of AI in Irish enterprise, helping large and small enterprises to adopt and benefit from digital transformation.

AI is without any doubt the new fuel for the modern economy carrying with it the potential of disrupting and transforming almost every industry and business sector.

However, even when the benefits are well recognised and the investment allocated, the path to digital transformation is not always smooth. Research shows that 70% of digital transformations fail, failing short of their objectives which often produce profound and costly consequences.

As founder and CEO of Galvia, an AI platform that draws actionable insights from data, I and my team have worked with some of the world’s largest enterprises including Nestlé, Medtronic and Atos, supporting their digital transformation journey.

We’ve earned a wealth of experience and learnings in these past years and were pleased to be given the opportunity to share them when nominated to the Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum (EDAF).

As with any other fast-evolving technology, AI also carries some serious implications and challenges towards its adoption. A collaborative, transparent approach can make all the difference.

Recognise Barriers to Digitalisation at Enterprises
What is interesting to note is that aside from the obvious technical challenges, it is actually too often the many social, economic and organisational factors that can impact the successful delivery of an AI solution but are frequently overlooked.

Business goes through many stages of evolution as they grow which shape their culture, structure, and technology in complex ways. At times we have found that the culture of an organisation, or its bureaucratic processes or legal systems and practices can be the prime cause of friction towards change.

Create a Unique Culture in this New World of Work
Creating a culture of openness and transparency is key throughout the digital transformation journey.

Tied to the media hype of AI is the fear that robots are going to take over all our jobs. It would be naive and irresponsible to say AI won’t replace some jobs. But resisting change rather than preparing for what is to come is potentially disastrous for business.

AI is a tool for humans to get better at their work, save time, be more productive and to focus on creative tasks rather than be timelessly preoccupied with boring mundane work. We must remember that our human capacity for compassion and empathy is going to be a valuable asset in the future workforce and there are certain jobs hinged on care, creativity and education that computers just can’t replace.

The responsibility is on organisations to evolve and create their own unique identity, culture, work style, and management/reporting structure in this new world of work.

Our experience concurs with the three core principles reflected in the National AI Strategy, that when adapted there is a greater likelihood of a more successful digital transformation journey:

  1. Adopt a human-centric approach to application of AI – albeit viewing AI as a tool to support human decision making;
  2. Stay open and adaptable to new innovations;
  3. Ensure good governance to build trust and confidence for innovation to flourish, because ultimately if AI is to be truly inclusive (free of bias) and have a positive impact on all of us, we need to be clear on its role in our society and ensure that trust is the ultimate marker of success.

Industry research is already showing that those that reach the promised land gain a significant competitive edge.

The Role of Government
The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, supported by organisations like Enterprise Ireland and Endeavour Ireland, are playing a central and leading role in connecting digital native and transformed organisations to ones that have yet to embark on their digital transformation journey allowing opportunities for networking and knowledge sharing.

Additionally, part of our focus on the EDAF is to look at funding initiatives that empower organisations to start their digital transformation journey and ultimately help them gain a competitive advantage.

Research is also key, in terms of better understanding the impact of digitalisation, understanding our progress in comparison to our EU and international peers, and gaining insights on how to further exploit opportunities.

On the surface, it seems Ireland has done a good job related to digitalisation compared to the rest of the EU but we need research to know exactly how much of it has had a transformative impact, as every country has its own dynamics.

At Galvia, to date, we have been involved in research projects with the University of Galway, Ireland on the impact of digital transformation delivering vital student services. Our participation falls under our commitment to the advancement of AI.

Future Proofing our Economy
By embracing digitalisation we are future proofing our economy for the years ahead. The digital economy presents huge opportunities for Irish SMEs to improve services, enhance customer experience, and increase competitiveness.

I look forward to continuing to share our learnings with the Enterprise Digital Advisory Board, so that together we can collaborate and help create an AI community that is equitable, transparent, secure and above all human centric.

– John Clancy, as published on Silicon Republic, on 31/08/22

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