Without AI you’re nowhere as a company

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AI: not something distant and far-removed, but here and now. Both large and small companies in the Benelux are already using AI, together with robotics, IoT or blockchain. This way they offer added value to their customers. Cognitive to the core: what does the digital transformation provide?

Come to Think Brussels, October 4/5

A large construction company conducts inspections from its construction sites using drones. The drones contain an AI-based image recognition technology. This simplies and efficiently records whether or not the project is proceeding according to plan. Think this is futuristic? Not at all.

The same type of application is used for maintenance projects as well. We concluded a partnership with a supplier that inspects the condition of windmills using drones. The results of these inspections determine whether or not maintenance is required.

Yet another example is an engineering company utilizing machine learning and analytics to improve its project management. Using these tools, the company gets a clear picture of the status of its projects. Besides that, the project managers get ‘smart’ recommendations regarding the next best action. This represents a giant step forward in a sector that works with small margins and where projects have a tendency to miss deadlines and end up going over budget.

drone capturing project status


AI is indispensable

These are only a few examples of companies that are busy transforming digital. They activate this with new technologies such as AI, robotics and IoT. My team and I help them do this. They are particularly eager to exchange ideas with us. Besides that, they want to understand how they can best approach this at the interface between business and IT.

Their focus is primarily on end-users. On the one hand, these end-users are their customers. They want to better serve these customers and increase customer intimacy. On the other hand, these end-users are their employees. By making better decisions, they want to enable these employees to work more efficiently. This must collectively lead to better numbers.

The majority of these companies are aware of the richness of their data and the fact that they do not satisfactorily utilize this data to create added value. This is primarily because they lack the right tools. Given the explosive increase in the quantity of data, this situation will not improve without AI.
In fact, without AI, it is impossible.

Digital twin

Think Brussels, the event about digital transformation and innovation, takes place on October 4th and 5th. During this event local companies, who have already taken the requisite steps in this area, talk about their experiences. I will briefly introduce a few of them here:

  • BAM Construction Company – Based on the IBM Cloud, BAM works on a digital platform that streamlines the entire building process, brings all parties in contact with one another and centralizes communication. It uses digital twin technology. This means the company has a virtual version of all its physical construction objects.
    Digital twins help BAM improve the design and building process; these twins are extremely valuable after that process is concluded. By linking IoT sensors in the physical objects to the virtual versions in real time, you can collect data regarding the use and performance of the buildings. Using analytics and machine learning, it is then possible to gain detailed insight into the use of these objects and thus into customers’ needs and demands so as to predict when preventive maintenance is required.
  • Kone – for several years now, elevator manufacturer Kone has been successfully conducting a project in the area of ‘predictive maintenance’. The company’s elevators are equipped with IoT sensors that monitor their performance. Using this data, analytics and machine learning, Kone is able to intervene before problems occur. The company is better able to manage its maintenance engineers and to optimally serve its customers.
  • Proximus – as a major party in the Belgian market, Proximus plays an important role as an ‘enabler’ of digital transformation within small and mid-sized organizations. For example, the company offers these companies access to AI and data science applications, amongst others, via an extensive ecosystem of specialized and local partners. At the event, Proximus will talk about a chatbot it has developed with AI with which it has made it possible for its customers to reduce their customer churn.

Small and mid-sized companies can also enjoy the benefits.

Smaller companies can benefit from the latest technological developments just as well as larger ones. They do not have to make big investments to do this. They can simply utilize new technology in the form of apps or services. A few examples include:

  • Nine Connections – combines IBM AI technology, available via the Cloud, with data to a service that helps customers optimally utilize content.
  • Using our solution, Undeveloped has succeeded in using our blockchain technology to develop a solution within six months that provides interested buyers insight into the availability of web domains without violating GDPR regulations.

Cognitive to the core

Employees are sometimes hesitant when it comes to these types of new technological developments and the impact these will have on their work. In fact, they not only warm to this quickly, but become quite enthusiastic once they start using them. New technology helps them work better and make better decisions. That positive user experience is also exactly what we have in mind at IBM, whether this involves employees or customers.

We want people to be able to achieve more collectively and to make our society better. Through digital transformation and, with the help of AI, using their data in a smarter and more efficient manner, companies can mean more to their customers, improve their processes and be better employers. Cognitive to the core is without doubt the way forward. I advise anyone who wishes to be inspired to attend Think, where, as host, I will give them a warm welcome.

Come to Think Brussels, October 4/5

executive partner and digital & cognitive consulting leader, IBM

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