It used to be that only large airlines could afford simulators to bring real-work experience into the safety of a laboratory. Today, Walmart uses Virtual Reality (VR) simulators to train managers how to handle the chaos of Black Friday shoppers. Komatsu, a heavy machine manufacturer, offers VR training for heavy equipment operators – “in seat” training for handling any weather condition in any location on earth. GE employs special field glasses which allow analysts from anywhere in the world to oversee a technician’s most complicated repairs on wind turbines, or to offer the field worker visual, long-distance access to specific manuals or diagrams.
These are among the many examples cited in a 78-page tech review by Accenture Technology called “Redefine Your Company Based on the Company You Keep – Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed.” The think-tank report lays out, for 2018 companies, the new reality, along with a three-year projection of what companies need to know to incorporate new technologies into their product base and then how to “raise” their “Citizen AI” (Artificial Intelligence) responsibly. It also gives practical advice on how organizations will have to redesign or realign themselves to integrate those new technologies into a disrupted marketplace.
One take-away I found in the report is the social implication of this changing backdrop. Particularly, I was challenged with the realization that pre-existing customer/business exchanges, where these entities have historically existed in separate camps, is no longer a valued business model. Thanks in large part to big-data sampling and targeted preference algorithms, vendors are more often expected to be predictive rather than reactive to customer needs. We’ve invited big business into our homes, with AI assistant Alexa and other devices, but those convenience tools actually serve two masters – us and their manufacturer’s, returning as much information about how a family functions and what assistance the customers most request.
Products used as sampling tools is nothing new – Google ranks searches based on user inputs and Yahoo knows what ads to place based on your browsing history – but we’re opening the door wider with every new product that requires us to check a box agreeing to 29 pages of legal give-and-take. And, as we do make those pacts, we also expand our service expectations based on that trust. We expect Google and Yahoo to know us — individually, not as an age or gender cohort — down to our personal shopping and product preferences and our workout schedules, and we want our vendors to then predict and remind us when we need another prescription filled or a tune-up for our car.
Among that other many opportunities and challenges cited in the report is the critical necessity of updated cyber-security. An example offered: “Security failures at Equifax resulted in a theft of personal information that will impact hundreds of millions of lives for decades to come—including individuals who had no explicit business relationship with Equifax. Rebuilding the trust required to sustain partnerships with consumers, governments, and the general public will be a massive [and hugely expensive] undertaking.”
None of this, however, dampens our enthusiasm for emerging tech-fueled discoveries. New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai is an example offered up. It’s “Deep Patient” AI system has 700,000 patient records, and from that resource, Deep Patient has taught itself to predict risk factors for 79 different diseases, proving to be a deep-data goldmine for physicians wanting help with the diagnosis of risk factors. It isn’t just huge organizations that expect to benefit from AI integration. Also noted in the report: 81% of executives polled believe AI will serve as a collaborator or even co-worker within their organizations in the next two years.
I don’t often refer you to such a long and in-depth report for further reading, but this one is worth it. I think after digesting it, you’ll view the emerging world through new virtual lenses.