Intelligent apps: Maximising your organisation's use of AI

Johannesburg, 21 Feb 2024
Duane Cooper, Account Executive, Entelect.
Duane Cooper, Account Executive, Entelect.

Intelligent apps – applications that use data to produce smart predictions, hyper-personalisation and create an adaptive experience – are not new technologies or concepts. Merging artificial intelligence (AI) and applications is something technology professionals have been doing for a long time. These processes have come a long way, and have become significantly easier in recent years, thanks to public exposure and fast-tracked development of AI, making the technology more accessible and affordable.

This is according to Duane Cooper, Account Executive at Entelect, who notes that organisations are rushing to make use of AI technology, scared of falling behind and losing competitive advantage. As a result, AI technologies are often incorporated into environments without prudent consideration for the value it adds or the real problems it solves.

This is especially true in the development of intelligent apps. Cooper claims organisations need to create a culture that focuses on solving the highest value problems across departments and with a proactive mindset around the existing data and new data points needed to best enable smart solutions.

Creating a consolidated perspective

"App development supplemented with AI and smart tools offers a significant advantage by bridging traditional business silos and technologies,” explains Cooper. “In the past, applications, data and design were often done separately and not as a cohesive process. Consider this scenario: an app generates data, which is then accessed by an analytics division for reporting. Meanwhile, design experts from a separate division provide design advice without sight of the data and broader technology capabilities. When you distribute thinking across different areas, you lose context. This fragmented process becomes costly, inefficient and incompatible with agile methodologies.

“We need to improve collaboration, bringing everything together throughout the design and build process, instead of offloading concepts and trying to feed them in later. We need to test and learn faster. A big part of this is the data. Teams must be able to make decisions quickly by looking at the data. This is where AI can make a difference – it can connect various sources, contextualise it and create quick feedback loops for consumption by applications or humans.

“This swift decision-making, collaboration and fast feedback loops all form part of the bigger picture: understanding how technologies and products are going to work together holistically. AI isn’t a standalone technology. Organisations need to consider how it threads into application environments and is surfaced to users.”

With regards to intelligent apps, the intelligent aspect should be embedded in the upfront design of applications – not as an afterthought, Cooper explains. “Understanding the data points needed to enable great experiences upfront fully saves a ton of time and allows getting to the right experiences faster.”

Solving real-world problems

Cooper sees AI as a peripheral technology, with the app as the ‘centrepiece’ that enables an adaptive unique experience, tailored to address a particular problem.

“Many organisations are caught up with the appeal of AI, but few are finding practical scenarios that surface real value and solve meaningful problems. When we look at how users and organisations interact with applications, we can quickly uncover a variety of inefficiencies and poor experiences.”

Cooper advises: “Go out there and empathise with users, employees and customers, look at day-to-day operational challenges and the problems people face, and that will guide you in terms of use cases and the applications you should be building. Don’t simply go looking for AI use cases. Every organisation can find the pain points. Find where intelligent apps could really add value, validate this and then move to actually building and continuously obsessing over the value it adds through quick feedback mechanisms. With AI, building it is the easy part, successful adoption of it is everything else.”

A superior experience

Creating a culture that considers the wider technology landscape and goals of an organisation, while empathising with users to identify the most meaningful use cases, will create applications and experiences that are significantly smarter, not just for the sake of it, but in a way that makes an impact. “When it comes to maximising this intelligence in your organisation, don’t shy away from solving simple things first, well. That’s where the value lies, creates momentum and allows a gradual culture shift that will set experiences apart.”

He adds that expert partners can offer objective viewpoints to identify problems, inefficiencies and waste in processes, and understand how technology can be used to solve these problems.