Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Little AI Goes a Long Way_ AI Europe Conference Showcases Practical Cognitive Applications

The CognitiveScale team just returned from AI Europe 2016 in London. As Europe is leading the way in machine learning, it was no surprise to see the number of specialized AI solutions and talent on display at AI Europe. AI in legal and accounting were two popular areas, but what was most prevalent was the number of attendees researching practical new solutions and capabilities in AI.

Among the many speakers, Terry Jones, co-founder of Wayblazer, founder of Travelocity and Chairman at Kayak, and CognitiveScale’s founder and CTO, Matt Sanchez, spoke about practical AI applications in two key industries_ travel and banking.

Jones kicked off the conference with his talk on “Demystifying AI,” giving us all an insightful lay-of-the-land on how AI has evolved and the future of AI in travel. Sanchez then continued the conversation sharing how AI is advancing the financial services industry. Both of these talks encouraged the audience to move beyond the hype and start focusing on practical applications of AI that business leaders can start thinking about now.

Here are a few of the big takeaways in how cognitive computing is revolutionizing travel and banking.

AI in Travel_ Experiences That Inspire Beyond “When” and “Where”

As we enter into the holiday travel season, it’s easy to dream of the days when AI will take care of even our most complex travel needs. And with the incredible amount of data in travel, you might assume the AI applications would come easy. Yet today the travel industry is still asking us where we’re going and when.

Powered by clunky outdated systems that don’t consider how travelers actually think and behave, travel is primed for disruption through AI in areas such as scheduling and fares.

In his talk, Terry Jones shared what the future of AI means for travel and what’s most important when undertaking AI initiatives in the travel industry. We need “systems of insight” to help us make sense of the data we’re all drowning in according to Jones. “Data is the oil of AI” that transform this evolution and help today’s travelers overcome the paradox of travel choices.

Instead of expecting customers to sift through 42 million results when asking “what is the best hotel in Hawaii,” AI combined with natural language processing can build a richer base of customer knowledge. This knowledge base helps AI learn what customers actually want and then delivers better answers and experiences when travel planning. So when a customer wants to plan a romantic getaway, the system has learned enough about them to recommend more insightful experiences based on their personal context.

It all comes down to solving real business problems first. Travelers want to be inspired and understood. Perhaps it’s not where and when that you want, but experiences that you weren’t even aware of.

Wayblazer and others in AI are laser-focused on solving the modern traveler’s dilemma, assisting in booking, delivering inspiring experiences and anticipating travel needs. Cognitive computing has the power to change the travel game, providing better more conversational answers to vacation inquiries and delivering richer travel experiences based on what customers actually want.

AI in Banking_ Cognitive Computing’s Power to Disrupt

With end-of-year financial reporting well underway, the banking industry has opportunities to streamline processes and provide better customer experiences through cognitive computing. At AI Europe, Matt Sanchez spoke about the shift that is happening from machine learning to machine cognition in banking in his talk, “Using AI to scale beyond the human limit in banking.”

AI Europe

Today’s financial institutions can use machine cognition to gain a richer, contextual understanding of high net worth clients, scale the reach of financial advisors, and reduce compliance costs and effort.

In today’s ‘disrupt or be disrupted’ environment, huge banks like UBS are exploring ways to adopt AI by better advising clients in investment decisions. Annika Schröder, Director UBS Group Innovation, spoke about why UBS is interested in AI and other fintech innovations and shared some of the more cutting-edge ways they are adopting machine intelligence in customer interactions.

In the near future, we’ll begin to see AI at work across all areas of banking — from customer service, to regulatory compliance, to cybersecurity and financial management.

A Little AI Goes A Long Way

CognitiveScale’s Managing Director of Europe, Robert Golladay, closed the day with his talk on “Practical AI_ bringing scalable machine intelligence and continuous learning to the enterprise.” Reiterating that actualizing AI in a true business context reigns supreme, he reminded us all that “a little AI goes a long way.”

AI Europe

The key, he said, is “to avoid over complex and costly data science projects by delivering real value.” At CognitiveScale, we focus on this pragmatic business approach to AI. And as deep learning and other AI technologies receive even more investment across Europe, we’re looking forward to continuing to expand our presence in Europe, demonstrating practical AI solutions across not only financial services, but also retail and healthcare. Read more on Robert Golladay’s reflections on AI Europe.

While the promise of AI-driven autonomous business is still years ahead, the time is now to start asking yourself where AI can “move the needle” in your business. Adopting fast, scalable, and practical AI solutions can help drive that change.

Thanks to the AI Europe team for a great event. We look forward to next year!

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