With the glamour that attaches to it from sci-fi movies, and the sinister undertones sketched out by some journalists and commentators, AI carries a lot of baggage in the popular imagination. Some of this baggage will inevitably spill over into the thinking of business decision-makers, so it’s good to see a clear, helpful discussion like Bernard Marr’s piece How To Identify The Best AI Opportunities For Your Business – In 2 Simple Steps, recently published in Forbes.
In the article, Marr sets out to give decision-makers a reliable template for evaluating where and how they can build the advantages of AI into their enterprise without falling into any of the obvious traps.
Working from the premise that no business can afford to ignore the AI revolution, Marr argues that simply jumping on the AI bandwagon without a clear set of goals and priorities is likely to be costly and damaging.
High-level objectives such as ‘making business processes more intelligent’, or ‘automating mundane and repetitive tasks’, are the starting point, Marr suggests, and businesses should assess each potential application of AI against a list of criteria designed to keep thinking straight. These include:
The enormous, wide-ranging potential of AI should not dazzle decision-makers, and Marr advocates using his evaluation template to identify one or two AI ‘quick wins’ – AI projects that would be relatively quick, easy, and inexpensive to implement. These might allow a company to test the waters for larger projects in future.
But if that makes it sound like you shouldn’t expect the ‘quick win’ to have a major beneficial impact, think again.
One of the characteristics of a well-focused, application-specific AI implementation is that it can deliver sizeable benefits without being difficult or expensive to adopt. In fact, we’d say that if a proposed AI project looks as if it will be expensive, complex, time-consuming and resource-hungry to develop, then perhaps you should think twice about it.
"One of the characteristics of a well-focused, application-specific AI implementation is that it can deliver sizeable benefits without being difficult or expensive to adopt."
The promise and reality of good, tightly-focused AI is that it makes things simpler, more efficient, and less costly. It makes businesses more agile and faster to adapt. The prospect of committing years of development and a large chunk of investment to a ‘large-scale’ AI project is not really compatible with those benefits.
In our domain – logistics – there is a clear case for a perfectly-tailored AI solution, and that’s why we developed one (L.E.O). Business logistics as a whole lags far behind most other areas of industry in adopting efficient, digitalised systems and processes. What’s more, the particular nature of logistics and supply chain management, with its global diversity, lack of standardisation and complex matrix of ever-changing variables, makes it an obvious opportunity for optimisation through AI.
Bernard Marr’s article offers good, basic guidance to businesses considering how to get on board with AI, but it should be clearly understood that building an in-house AI solution is not an organisation’s only way forward. Indeed, it’s probably not even the third-best way forward. Some of the quickest and best ‘quick wins’ can be had off the shelf, installed almost immediately, and can be providing benefits from day one.
"Building an in-house AI solution is not an organisation’s only way forward. Indeed, it’s probably not even the third-best way forward!"
And, far from having a marginal effect, a ready-to-run ‘quick hit’ solution can deliver serious improvements to profitability, business agility and the quality of the services your business can offer.
But the template suggested by Marr does offer a great approach to weighing up the potential of AI in a business context. It’s one you could certainly use to evaluate the 7bridges platform for logistics optimisation. By all the criteria Marr suggests, it ticks the boxes as a quick hit with a major upside and a big payback.
Considering an AI solution to reduce your costs and improve your logistics performance? 7bridges has an AI-powered logistics solution that can generate ROI for your business in less than 1 month.