Data is once again the talk of the day in 2023, this time fueled by the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the close relationship between data and AI. We are on the edge of a turning point—a transformation that is deeper than ever before. Why is this period so intriguing? What sets it apart from other trends of recent years? And how can your organization smartly capitalize on these developments? We answer these questions in this blog article with the help of our experts Jack Klaassen (Director of Innovations & Technology) and Harry Boers (Business Developer).
From Looking Back to Looking Forward
Every organization feels, sees, and hears that AI has an unparalleled impact. It evokes a sense of urgency and excitement. This feeling is fueled by the way AI affects our personal lives and can change our way of working. AI will not only help us increase productivity and improve visible and tangible processes, but it will also change the future of how companies deal with reporting and analytics.
Jack Klaassen, Director of Innovations & Technology at Macaw, says, “If you look at the history of BI & analytics, there have been three important moments. In the ’80s and ’90s, we gradually began reporting based on data. At the beginning of this century, we started analyzing and enriching data. The third step we are taking now is combining data and AI. This allows us to move towards analyses to predict the future. Or we ask AI to recommend actions we can take to influence certain outcomes.”
“We are at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution: the era of autonomous systems. This AI revolution is partly fueled by technology and software vendors, but also by broad participation from various industries. Organizations are very aware that if they don’t take the leap, their competitors will,” adds Harry Boers, Business Developer.
The Role of Data and AI
According to Boers and Klaassen, data and AI are important prerequisites in this revolution. Companies have been working for years to get their data management in order. Organizations have started collecting much more data, and the data has also become more diverse. Klaassen says, “Where in the past all reports were based on information in an ERP system, over the years other source systems and external sources—such as social media—have been added. In the past, it was almost impossible to make good predictions based on that jumble of information. The cloud played a central role in changing this. It enabled companies to bring large amounts of diverse data together in one environment, process data more quickly, and pave the way for AI’s computational power for advanced analyses, predictions, and recommendations.
Unleash the beast
The possibilities of data and AI excite many organizations. But where should they start? Klaassen says, “By first introducing AI within the existing context of the organization, so that employees become familiar with the technology. Once a basic level of understanding is reached, out-of-the-box solutions can be considered. We have outlined three steps to help you further.”
Step 1 – Discover and Experiment
The first step is to start exploring AI by experimenting with various forms of it. It’s important not to focus solely on well-known tools like ChatGPT, but to seek solutions that specifically align with the unique needs of the organization.
Step 2 – Determine what is still missing
By pioneering and experimenting, both business and IT will encounter problems. For example, that the (master) data management is not in order or the security is not at the desired level. Identify which issues are crucial, prioritize them, and determine what is needed to get them fixed.
Step 3 – Prepare yourself organizationally
Once the business is a step further, it’s possible to elevate AI to a higher level and discover the real accelerator. The third step focuses on optimally setting up and facilitating the organization to quickly adopt new AI-driven initiatives. The goal is to implement this approach into every aspect of the organization.
Through this combined approach, the organization is encouraged to fully open up to AI-driven initiatives, creating a culture where working with AI has become a natural and essential part of business operations.
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