AI isn’t a decision maker, it’s an enabler

Jose Lazares of Intapp Jose Lazares of Intapp

In the last 10 years alone, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven it can drive cars, see better than humans, says Jose Lazares, vice president strategy and business management at Intapp and even beat champion players of the show Jeopardy! It is no surprise that we’ve reached the point where AI has become a business asset across industries. Gartner this year predicted that artificial intelligence augmentation will create $2.9 trillion (€2.62 trillion) in business value and 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity in 2021.

People are seeing the value of AI, however; as it becomes increasingly relied upon across organisations, the way it is being used holds the key to success. While so-called black box approaches that rely solely on AI to provide the right answers may be appropriate for some consumer support functions like Chatbots or online product recommendations, they cannot be relied upon for more impactful scenarios such as providing legal counsel or bespoke financial advice.

As it becomes more embedded within complex, nuanced businesses processes such as supporting credit decisions or managing risk where the consequences of error are much greater, AI needs to be considered as augmented intelligence, and as an asset that supports better decision making. In the last few years, there has been a rise of more traditional industries understanding the value of AI, and how it can help day to day operations.

Law firms for example have been using AI to streamline document discovery review across thousands of documents, in the retail industry it’s used to automatically reorder stock, and in manufacturing it can help combat errors on the production line. The impact to technology teams, operations functions and many management roles has been phenomenal and it’s led to incredible operational efficiencies across sectors.

However, as AI adoption continues to spread across the organisation, and is used by more senior roles within the business for high-level strategic decisions, it needs to be considered a support tool, rather than a decision making tool.For example, if a partner at a law firm wants to understand the biggest potential areas for growth in the next year, they need to combine an effective AI solution that can draw information from the entire organisation, understand the intricacies of that sector and present the output in a format for the partner to make the decision, with the deep-seated knowledge and experience that only they would have.

Only the partner will understand the likely impact of the political climate, or understand that a particular sector has never been lucrative for the firm due to outside competition. Furthermore, with ever-increasing competition in the legal industry, and with senior leaders generally pressed for time, using AI as a business support tool is a way to ensure that decisions are being made as quickly as possible, but with complete control still within the hands of the partner.

A promising area here is leveraging AI and machine learning to define and surface critical events and information via mobile devices to enable partners to gain insights into the state of their business, prepare for client meetings on the fly and make quick decisions on budget overruns, new business opportunities and even client escalations.

IDC recently predicted that by 2024, over 50% of all IT spending will be for digital transformation and innovation. Technologies like AI will increasingly be relied upon to support functions across the organisation. The next 12 months will be pivotal to ensuring that the way this is structured within the company takes into account the impact from a strategic, as well as operational perspective.

The author is Jose Lazares, vice president strategy and business management at Intapp

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