Artificial Intelligence

Unlocking the power of data with artificial intelligence to accelerate innovation

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Unlocking the power of data with artificial intelligence to accelerate innovation

Data is the lifeblood of business – it drives innovation and enhances competitiveness. However, its importance was brought to the fore by the pandemic as lockdowns and social distancing drove digital transformation like never before.

Forward-thinking businesses have started to grasp the importance of their data; they understand the consequences of not fully mobilising it, but many are sat at the start of their journey. Even the best organisations are failing to extract the maximum benefits from their data while keeping it safe. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into play – it can benefit enterprises with their data in three fundamental ways.

Releasing value

First, without the right tools it is impossible to unlock data’s hidden value. For that to happen businesses need to deploy AI because of its ability to analyse complex datasets and produce actionable insights. These can significantly enhance business agility and improve the foresight of enterprises of all sizes.

The success of any move to adopt AI will depend on a robust data infrastructure being in place. Transforming data into useful information is only possible with this solid foundation, which in turn allows advanced AI applications to extract the real value locked inside the data.

Unlocking silos

Another issue is that far too many businesses simply don’t know how much data they own. Split up into silos, it can be impossible to gain a clear view of not only what data is available but also where it resides. Removing this bottleneck can also be achieved through the implementation of AI. This is important because incomplete data will result in incomplete insights.

Businesses should prioritise making all data sources as simple and accessible as possible. Cloud technologies, such as hybrid data management, have a vital role to play here. Adoption makes it possible to manage all data types across multiple sources and locations, effectively breaking down these silos and a major barrier to AI adoption.

Protecting against data theft

While extracting value from data is undoubtedly beneficial for organisations, it also creates risks. Criminals are increasingly aware of the potential to exploit vulnerabilities to disrupt operations or cause reputational issues through leaking sensitive data. The threat landscape is evolving and rising data breach costs are a growing problem for businesses in the wake of the rapid technology shifts triggered by the pandemic. Over the last year businesses were forced to quickly adapt their technology approaches, with many companies encouraging or requiring employees to work from home, and 60% of organisations moved further into cloud-based activities during the pandemic.

According to the latest annual ‘Cost of a Data Breach’ report, conducted by Ponemon Institute and analysed by IBM Security, serious security incidents now cost UK-based organisations an  average of £3.6 million per incident, the highest cost in the 17-year history of the report. This is higher than the global average of $4.24 million per incident, highlighting the importance of protecting data for British businesses.

AI has a role to play here, and the study revealed encouraging signs about the impact of intelligent and automated security tools. While data breach costs reached a record high over the past year, the report also showed positive signs about the impact of modern security tactics, such as AI and automation – which may pay off by reducing the cost of these incidents further down the line. The adoption of AI and security analytics were in the top five mitigating factors shown to reduce the cost of a breach. On average, organisations with a “fully deployed” security automation strategy faced data breach costs of less than half of those with no automation technology in place.

The sector in which a business operates also has a direct impact on the overall cost of a security breach. The report identified that the average cost of each compromised record containing sensitive data was highest for UK organisations in Services (£191 per record), Financial (£188) and Pharmaceuticals (£147). This highlights how quickly the costs of a breach can escalate if a large number of records are compromised.

Developing an AI strategy

So how should a business bring its AI strategy to life? First, organisations must ensure their infrastructure is equipped to handle all the data, processing and performance requirements needed to effectively run AI. If you use your existing storage arrangement without modernising it, you greatly increase your risk of failure. A hybrid cloud implementation is likely to be the best solution in most instances as it offers the optimum flexibility.

Enterprises should also directly embed AI into their data management and security systems, which should have clearly defined data policies to ensure appropriate levels of access and resilience. The data management system and the data architecture should be optimised for added agility and ease of operation.

Totting up the benefits

A fully featured AI implementation doesn’t just aggregate data and perform largescale analytics, it also enhances security and governance. Together they enable companies to create valuable business insights that fuel innovation. AI will also help ensure that data if used more efficiently and minimise data duplication. But above all, properly managed data is the lifeblood of enterprise – a resource that needs to be identified and protected. Only then can companies start to climb the AI ladder.

General Manager, Technology Group, IBM United Kingdom & Ireland

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