Ricoh IT Services - AI provides deep learning to give data more power

We believe that when designed with people at the centre, artificial intelligence (AI) can extend your capabilities, free you up for more creative and strategic endeavours, and help you or your organisation achieve more. That's why Ricoh has invested significantly in its capabilities in the fields of data and AI; acquiring businesses in the UK, Spain and Italy. AI is now playing a huge role in our customer interactions and in the solutions we deliver.

AI is, and will most likely be for the foreseeable future, big news. It’s now one of the top priorities for CIOs, according to Gartner's most recent CIO agenda report, and for good reason. It has the potential to transform the way we use data to drive cost savings, improve customer service, reduce risk and increase security. Our partner Microsoft is even applying AI and machine learning algorithms to power corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects and to support critical environmental work.

Ricoh Europe's Vice President & General Manager of Business Process Services, Edward Gower-Isaac gives his view on the AI market and the areas where he envisages AI solutions rapidly growing in the next financial year.

Artificial intelligence is a term which was first coined back in 1955. However, it’s only in recent years that businesses have started to realise the full potential of AI, and what it could mean for them today and in the future.

I highlighted in a previous blog post that as AI increasingly moves from the laboratory into workplaces, there are four things to watch out for in the next 12 months:

1) Growth in enterprise adoption of AI – with businesses making small steps
According to a survey from PWC 20% of enterprises said their organisations plan to implement AI enterprise-wide in 2019. On top of this, 15% said they plan to deploy in multiple areas, with a further 16% planning pilot schemes. There’s clearly appetite to exploit this technology – but I suspect this will be done in small steps, rather than in one huge push for a lofty goal.

2) Robotic process automation (RPA) will continue to be the most common deployment of AI
RPA represents the “low hanging fruit” in the field of AI applications. For many organisations looking to reap the benefits, this will be considered as a first foray. Businesses should consider processes within their organisation which are document and time-intensive if they want to see the biggest impact.

3) AI-infused voice technologies start to enter the workplace
The increasing presence in our homes of voice-controlled smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home means their arrival in our workplaces is only a matter of time. Vendors will design new interfaces for our interaction with technology – beyond keyboards and screens. As the use of voice control becomes normalised, businesses will look to see how it can yield productivity gains. I love the idea of using voice control to search, and take action on documents within a system, but of course that means we will have to learn to manage with increased noise in the office.

4) Enterprises outside the technology sector set up their own machine learning labs
I agree with this prediction made by analysts at CCS Insight who envisage big companies setting up their own internal laboratories on machine learning. The job title “Head of Artificial Intelligence” is a niche role, for now. But big businesses will increasingly see the benefits of collaborating with developers and academia. New specialist roles such as this will be an important step in that development.

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