Bloomberg Línea Ideas — Humans have always been fascinated by what the future holds, and they’ve relied upon lessons of the past to predict what’s likely to come. Long ago, that meant communities turned to their elders for predictions and solutions. Their experience helped villages predict and manage crises such as droughts or floods.
Over time, analysis of such data evolved into the field of statistics, and in recent years, numbers have been processed by ever more powerful computers. Data-informed predictions in the computer age are becoming more and more reliable thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), which today offers sophisticated data analysis and predictions for everything from Amazon’s inventory to Netflix recommendations.
Nonetheless, AI and analytics are not only about predictions, boosting productivity, and democratizing access to products and services. AI is even fueling innovation in art. AI is at the center of everything that surrounds us.
From mobile-first to AI-first
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology all over the world, and according to a recent survey by PwC, 52% percent of companies accelerated their AI adoption plans.
Forward-thinking leaders know that they can no longer compete in a hyper-tailored world without leveraging the insights achieved by strong data science and AI teams.
SoftBank Group’s portfolio startups have not only reinforced their AI teams; they are also embedding data science literacy across the entire company as it will drive more efficient operations and trigger innovation for new business models, products, and services.
AI is democratizing access to financial services
In financial services, companies like Konfio – which provides digital banking, payments, and software tools designed to boost small and mid-size enterprises’ growth and productivity – are leveraging AI to expand who gets access to credit.
AI can help pinpoint which demographic is most likely to engage and pay for a product, says Francisco Padilla, CTO of Konfio.
To enter the world of AI, Padilla says founders need teams dedicated to three areas: technology, business, and statistics - and ideally versed in all three. At the end of the day, it is about framing the right business problems that data could solve at 10 times the speed and accuracy.
That’s how companies win: Every business will approach AI differently, but the overall goal is to generate the best decisions for customers.
Developing highly predictive AI is not a linear effort; it’s exponential. “The more data you get, the more insightful your models,” says Padilla. But “if you waste time today and somebody else started, they’re probably ahead of the curve, literally.”
The key to ensuring your AI efforts matters. Focus on your own models rather than trying to beat an incumbent that has a head start. Companies new to AI can use their models while relying on the Cloud and its tools to make use of over-the-counter solutions with big data sets to quickly test their models.
What tech companies cannot afford to do is ignore the AI revolution. Thanks to advances in machine learning, AI is quickly overshadowing software and computing, and tech companies must leverage its power to remain competitive.
Beyond financial services
Today, most of our portfolio companies are using AI to compete and offer better products and services to the end customer. From reducing renovation budget overruns and optimal flexible space office size configuration, to maximizing delivery route efficiencies and overall making better buying recommendations.
As Masayoshi Son says, “AI is redefining every industry, including autonomous driving, healthcare, finance, education, and retail. Just as human power was replaced by machines in the Industrial Revolution, I suspect machines will be replaced by AI in the Information Revolution.”
But AI goes beyond business. Just immerse yourself in the world of Refik Anadol, who explores what it means to be human in the age of AI and ubiquitous computing.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are of Laura Gaviria Halaby and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of SoftBank Group. The content should not be taken as investment advice.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial boards of Bloomberg línea, Falic Media, or Bloomberg LP and their owners.
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