The news that the UK’s National Health Service has started using artificial intelligence to help detect breast cancer is just the latest example of how machine learning technology is already affecting our lives. As Nicolai Wadstrom, founder of BootstrapLabs, one of the leading venture capitalists in companies applying AI, said in a recent interview, many of the things we take for granted – such as autofocus cameras on our smartphones – are made possible by AI.
However, Wadstrom believes technology has a particularly powerful role to play in organizations’ efforts to meet increasingly stringent ESG standards. “Companies will need to report and comply,” he said. “I don’t think organizations will be able to solve it without AI. They are simply too complex and there is too much data.
As an example of potential, he cites supply chain management. Companies are using machine learning to understand things like their packaging – where it comes from, how it’s made, etc. – and they can then create audit trails based on the data. Some are also considering using technology to create more resilient supply chains by using data to detect risk. The ability to analyze risk more thoroughly also has a role to play in financial services, of course, and Wadstrom says it’s possible to use AI to perform much more accurate credit checks than this. is currently the case and thus potentially offer financial products to people who previously would have been refused.
The role of AI in understanding employee attitudes is rather less developed at the moment, but with great potential for companies struggling to retain staff. By accessing data that would not have been available before, HR teams could be able to predict who is considering leaving almost before employees themselves know, and thus take corrective action.
Wadstrom insists that there are many opportunities, as well as threats, for organizations. He sees a widening gap between CEOs who “realize that if they don’t understand this, it’s game over” and those who aren’t so advanced. He also warns that there is a “common misconception” that AI is all about collecting data, with the idea that whoever has the most data wins. But that’s not true, he says. “It’s the interpretation. He looks for a needle in a haystack and turns that into ideas and things of value.
His argument that AI is already more prevalent than we think is bolstered by a report released earlier this month by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group. The report, Achieve individual – and organizational – value with AI, found that 66% of individuals reported using AI at all or only minimally. But when asked for specific examples of AI-enhanced business apps, such as office productivity apps, calendar planners and customer relationship management software, 43% of them admitted they were using it after all.
Additionally, whether or not employees realize they are using AI affects their attitude towards the technology. François Candelon, global director of the BCG Henderson Institute and co-author of the report, said in a press release that research has shown that “employees knowingly using AI are 1.6 times more likely to achieve individual value and 1.8 times more likely to be satisfied”. with their work than those who don’t realize they are using AI. This also affects business performance. According to the study, organizations whose employees derive value from AI are 5.9 times more likely to derive significant financial benefits from it than organizations whose employees do not derive value.