Artificial Intelligence

Accelerating the Adoption of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence promises to be one of the most disruptive and transformative technologies of our generation. Having survived the “winter” of the 1970s, AI is enjoying it continued renaissance. For example, UK AI startups have seen a six-fold increase in VC investment over the past 5 years.

However, we’re only at the start of what this technology has to offer, with new developments continuing to occur at a rapid pace.

AI Application Areas

While many people are waiting for robots to start taking our jobs, and cars to start driving themselves, they fail to realise the extent to which AI is in fact already here, embedded in the products and services we use every day.

  • Recommendation engines – Product or TV show recommendations from streaming platforms rely on machine learning techniques to present options that will best align with your preferences.
  • Fraud detection – Banks use algorithms to spot patterns of suspicious behavior before phoning customers to confirm transactions, or automatically blocking cards.
  • Customer support – Companies are increasingly using chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI to automate conversations with their customers.

In the sports betting and gaming industry, companies (like Mindway AI and Vaix) are also putting artificial intelligence to work to help proactively detect patterns in user behaviour that might be suggestive of problem gambling. This helps operators to take the appropriate action early on and limit the impact on that customer.

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

Understandably, many companies are looking at the application of AI in a piecemeal fashion, to solve the types of use cases outlined above. But the reality is that eventually, AI will touch virtually every part of the business. It will play a much greater role in our personal lives on a daily basis as well.

Looking at the application of AI and machine learning more holistically will lead to some key benefits:

  • Automated – End to end automation of key business processes, removing manual intervention and increasing velocity, enabling businesses to scale without increasing costs.
  • Personalised – Personalisation of customer and employee touchpoints, creating products and services that are uniquely tailored to the needs of the individual
  • Proactive – Proactively identifying and mitigating risks before they occur. Predictive maintenance of equipment and early identification or fraudulent or suspicious activity.

Several Challenges are Slowing Adoption

However, implementation of AI is not simple and while the benefits of this technology are clear, several key challenges are limiting the uptake:

  • Data complexity – While it is true that large organisations have access to unprecedented volumes of data, it is rarely organised in an orderly fashion that makes it easy to use. Often data resides in different systems, in different formats or is incomplete. Building the pipes and infrastructure to move and store this data can be a complex and time-consuming undertaking. “It is universally true that data is crap”.
  • Skills shortage – There is a currently a shortage of Data Science and Machine Learning skills in the marketplace. Those with experience command high salaries and competition amongst employers is fierce.
  • Lack of awareness – Many business leaders outside of IT are simply not aware of the potential impact that AI could have on their company. The focus is often on solving today’s problems with today’s (and yesterday’s) technologies, as opposed to thinking more strategically about longer-term solutions. A recent Gartner survey showed that only 37% of firms have implemented, or plan to implement AI in the short term.

This makes start-ups uniquely positioned to succeed in the era of AI-powered Intelligent automation.

  • B2C start-ups can build data integrity and AI capability into their business from the outset. Using data and dashboards to analyse their business and AI to automate processes enables them to grow rapidly.
  • B2B AI start-ups have a window of opportunity to partner with corporates to help them make sense of the large volumes of data they manage before they recruit the teams to do it themselves.

AI buyer beware

Much like the hype around cryptocurrencies, start-ups are eager to include “AI” in the sales pitch to make their solutions seem smarter than they actually are. A recent survey by MMC Ventures estimates that 40% of AI start-ups don’t actually use AI in any material way.

The Future of AI

Much like with the electrification of manufacturing, we may have to wait for 20-30 years and a new generation of start-ups, managers and technology leaders to see the full benefits of AI realised. This timeframe allows corporates to overcome the shackles of legacy technology, a new crop of graduates with the necessary skills to emerge and the awareness and understanding of AI to grow beyond technology departments and start to permeate the wider business.

The companies that succeed in this era will accelerate their growth from a foundation of data, analytics and artificial intelligence.

At Alpha Hub, part of our mission is to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies like AI across Flutter Entertainment. If you’re working with innovative technologies that you think could support our global brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet or FanDuel, we’d love to hear from you.

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