Artificial Intelligence requires Organisation Culture Revolution


My Mother’s passion for Mathematics has always been to the fore, and she has had great pleasure in teaching maths to students, during her career as a teacher, and discusses its incredible impact on any number of walks of life – which has influenced my own interest in putting statistics, data analytics and insight at the centre of business, and be curious to understand trends and rhythms in order to anticipate improvements.

Recently my daughter’s homework on Alan Turing, the Cambridge genius, and the team of Mathematicians at Bletchley Park, underlined the UK’s rich heritage of using applied mathematics to predict and solve important new challenges.

Data analysis and targeting Technology has delivered productivity gains and heightened customer relevance during the last 20 years. Amazon has used predictive modelling since its launch in 1998. Tesco achieved a significant competitive advantage with the establishment of Club Card and the 50% Share in Dunn Humby in order to mine its data to segment and target customers. I’ve used innumerable online and social analytics to measure and improve online businesses.

The recent £400M sale of DeepMind to Google emphasised the burning importance of advanced Applied Mathematics to deliver Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the rapidly evolving world of Online / Mobile and Organisation performance. The Sunday Telegraph article by Sophie Curtis, 2nd February 2014, covered companies such as Swiftkey, Celaton, Lincor, Featurespace and Darktrace, with the Cambridge ‘Silicon Fen’ a key contributor to incubating an important revolution in UK Tech.

AI increases the sophistication much further by using algorithms and automatically augmenting rules which can propel the business forward at greater speed and productivity. Organisations can capitalise on such a competitive game-changer, if the right recipe for a revolution in behaviour is in place:

  1. The Leadership Team, combined with forward-thinking and innovative people across the business, along with other experts in the field, refine the Strategic positioning and intent, like never before. The objective must be to have a plan for AI-driven agile growth that uses the very latest techniques, which can evolve over time.
  2. Functional and Business Unit silos are broken down and reconstructed to ensure an ‘outside-in’ AI view of the world. This must happen in order to capitalise on the potential of such a fundamental change in the operation of the business. Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR, Engineering, Support and Customer Service must work effectively together in a highly-matrixed structure. This will be a test of Leadership with constant Operational rigour using measurement across numerous demensions within the business, with related methods of remuneration for all employees.
  3. A sophisticated curricula of Education and Training for all team members across the business will be instrumental in driving a quantum leap in agile insight-based business. All Employees are trained and developed to complement AI at the core of the business, and understanding their role in such a modus operendum.
  4. The whole team is behind the revolution in working, with an emphasis on individuals having the ability to contribute to the creativity, innovation and fun across the business. With the right parameters in place, this can aid retention of employees and their own desire to perform and drive the business forward.

There will be need for an increased velocity of change in businesses of all types with the adoption of AI and the associated cultural shift, however this will require a revolution, not an evolution.

Andrew Ford, February 2014

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