How artificial intelligence and innovation will interact

Artificial intelligence (AI), the great technology buzzword of the moment that both delights and frightens. Is it a beacon of revolutionary hope or a harbinger of the employment apocalypse?

Jon Lapham
by Jon Lapham
artificial intelligence and innovation

The matter remains open for discussion but we are more interested in how the advent of AI will interact with innovation over the following months and years.

“A.I. will replace up to 45 per cent of American jobs within 20 years.” Oxford University Study

We have been aware of the potential for AI to take over the more repetitive and mundane tasks for some time now. However, it is important to be aware that creative roles are not exempt from the capabilities of AI. I can already hear you protesting – but innovation is an inherently human endeavour, combining creativity with inspiration, surely a robot cannot replicate this?

Don’t be so sure because this is exactly the point of machine learning. Robots are becoming increasingly human in the way they interact and respond to the world around them, meaning that even creative and social skills could be ‘learnt’ by the bots. Those sci-fi movies may not be so far-fetched after all…

How does it work?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to grasp a basic understanding of how AI works. It is essentially about gathering and analysing the available data to spot opportunities and trends across the web. Well sure, any human could do that. Except robots can do it hundreds of times faster and in more detail than any human could ever muster.

AI can use a combination of data available internally within an organisation along with the various digital footprints available across the web. Using this extensive mine of data and by acknowledging the various signals, artificial intelligence works by analysing countless correlations and trends. With this information in place, AI can provide organisations with solutions and opportunities that would likely have remained undiscovered otherwise.

AI and Open Innovation

Crowdsourcing is a key factor of any innovation strategy and it is important to understand how AI could change the landscape for open innovation. External crowdsourcing is a smart way of generating original perspectives, but these initiatives often fail due to a lack of understanding and not enough truly innovative ideas, as well as poor management of the input.

AI can refine the process by using data to filter the most valuable intelligence from the crowd. It will be able to distinguish the relevant ideas that will be most effective in solving the problems posed. Rather than seeing AI as a means of taking over the process and rendering open innovation obsolete, it is more productive to view it as a means of streamlining the process to provide greater value.

“Combining internal data and open data will lead to finding the best ideas suggested by the algorithm. From crowd-suggested to crowd-scanned, as companies will still be picking up the brains and intelligence of the outside world and crowd but in a more informed and effective way.” – Alessandro di Fiore and Simon Schneider, LSE

Where does this leave humans?

An understandably divisive topic, some see the unbeatable advantages that AI brings and others seeing the potentially destructive effect on the safety of our jobs. However, we believe that despite the exceptional improvements in machine learning, human-to-human interaction will always be important.

AI opens up incredibly exciting possibilities in the world of innovation and it is about how these are integrated into organisations that is important. Avoid viewing AI as a replacement but rather as an enhancement. It is a process that organisations (and their humans) can leverage to improve on current processes, increase efficiency at an unparalleled rate and ultimately grow into something even better.

AI and innovation in industry

The advent of AI will affect almost every industry imaginable. More interestingly, is that AI will help to bring innovation into sectors where the ideation process has been typically slow and underperforming. We first saw this new wave of innovation with the cloud, which has been nothing short of revolutionary in fintech companies. AI is already establishing itself as the next key step for these companies.

“Now we are on the threshold of a new era of fintech innovation, this time fuelled by the rise in AI. […] Financial services providers are now deploying AI to offer new and improved cloud-based solutions to their customers that will help them make genuinely helpful steps forward in daily life.” – Martin Campbell, Compare the Cloud

Another industry that will benefit from the development of AI is the legal sector, which has been traditionally slack in pushing innovation and opening up to disruptive change. However, cloud technology is increasingly being adopted across law firms and a handful of companies are already considering the ways in which AI will help them to provide a better experience for both workers and clients.

Key takeaways

  • Organisations need to be factoring AI into their long-term goals and analysing what impacts this new technology will have on their business.
  • AI will be a key factor in strengthening open innovation strategies as it will help to refine and improve effectiveness of the external crowdsourcing process.
  • It is important not to view AI as a negative destructor of job stability but rather as a means of improving working life and client experience through increased efficiency and smarter use of data.

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