How AI will influence the next generation of IT

Personalisation, automation and big data going forward.

Johannesburg, 06 Jan 2022
Read time 3min 50sec
Rakesh Sambhu, head of PMO, ViC IT.
Rakesh Sambhu, head of PMO, ViC IT.

Whether you realise it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a while. It already has impacted just about every industry and, unknowingly to many, become a part of our day-to-day lives. AI may be a technological innovator in many senses, but according to Rakesh Sambhu, ViC IT’s Head of PMO, it is going to take a more customer-centric approach in the future: “There will not be a case of ‘one shoe fits all’ with AI, but rather a personalised experience per customer going forward,” he says. “Using AI to recommend better products, for example, improves the customer experience and in turn increases customer retention. In addition, finding patterns quickly in large datasets eliminates human error.”

Machine learning, or ML, is an important component of AI that has impacted many sectors including the financial services industry and the retail sector, both of which are leading the current adoption of the technology. “Healthcare and manufacturing are now starting to realise the benefits of their AI and ML journey,” says Sambhu. One of the many reasons AI has increased in popularity is that it allows for the automation of repetitive tasks which were previously done manually “…and without taking any breaks, thus ensuring transactions are processed in near real-time”, he adds.

AI is the main driver of many emerging technologies such as robotics, big data and IOT. But analysing vast amounts of data produced by these emerging technologies is a daunting task for any analyst. “With the adoption of AI, analysts only need to ensure the outputs are in line with the business objectives and assist in streamlining decision-making,” says Sambhu. “AI is forcing companies to look at their customer experience and their ability to acquire and maintain customers. What AI will do is allow companies to help customers choose products and tie them in for repeat business.”

Even though AI cannot learn continuously – and models should be retrained based on new data or changing circumstance – it is still set to become a core component of all modern software in the future. Sambhu advises that those businesses looking to invest in AI need to be aware of two driving factors: AI’s high cost of adoption and privacy. “Investment needs to not only be made in the infrastructure to process and store the data – training of employees is another substantial cost factor. More database administrators will also be required as the size of the data retentions will increase,” he explains. “Companies need access to personal data such as browsing history, likes and dislikes from various applications in order to promote similar products and services – this exposes the customer’s information. Customer experience officers will become much more informed and tech savvy, forcing them to create more IT focused teams.”

While AI doesn’t have an EQ and therefore will not fully replace human interaction, what it can do ultimately is increase business productivity by handling basic information requests through automated chatbots, freeing up employees to concentrate on other areas such as sales and marketing. “Mundane and repetitive tasks are now being automated using robotic process automation (RPA) to analyse and respond to requests quicker without the need to rest,” says Sambhu. “As AI progresses, more high level tasks will become automated, allowing more intelligent employees with higher skill levels to demand a higher renumeration. And data modelling jobs will increase due to data being the new ‘oil’.”

As the demand for automation increases, roles like AI specialists and ML experts will grow along with jobs pertaining to human computer interaction. Sambhu predicts that cyber security jobs will rise tenfold over the coming year thanks to big data being stored in such large quantities. “Data science is a specialist skill and there is not enough of these qualified individuals,” warns Sambhu. “In the future, the requirement for data scientists will definitely surge and I would recommend to those starting their IT career to look into the data science field and start carving out their niche.”

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