IT, New Media & Software

Wednesday, 15 August 2018 08:55

Converting the disruptive potential of AI to transformative business opportunity – Microsoft SA

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Converting the disruptive potential of AI to transformative business opportunity – Microsoft SA

14th August 2018, Cape Town, South Africa – Microsoft SA join AI Expo Africa as Platinum Sponsors stating “AI will have an impact on all aspects of our personal and professional lives in the future”.

In the digital era, companies and people have access to massive amounts of data through the internet as well as ubiquitous IoT sensors, along with the big computing power of the cloud that enables us to access and do more with data at a greater scale than ever before. Add to this, the powerful algorithms that allows companies to make research breakthroughs in order to train computers to accomplish more sophisticated tasks on their own and you end up with a technology trend, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is set to fundamentally reinvent how organisations of all sizes are run, compete and thrive.

According to PWC, AI will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, making it a massive commercial opportunity in today’s fast-changing economy. There is no better time than now for African companies to solidify their long-term AI strategy. Spending on cognitive and AI systems in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region will reach $114.22 million by 2021 according to data analytics firm IDC

All of this translates in the need for businesses to start focusing efforts on using AI to enrich people’s jobs, reimagine how traditional tasks are done and create new industries. In fact, while some industries and businesses are more advanced than others in implementing AI, it is still in its early stages of development, which is a positive for emerging markets, as they have the ability to leapfrog more developed counterparts. 

Overcoming hurdles in the AI adoption race

However, fears about the potential dangers of AI remain high, especially with regards to the job market. While it’s true that the advent of AI and automation has the potential to disrupt the labour market, disruption can be minimised by reskilling current employees and upskilling students at a secondary and tertiary educational level to cater to the future needs of the digitally transformed workplace. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will create half a million more jobs than it eliminates.

When designed with people at the centre, AI can extend people and employees’ capabilities, free them up for more creative and strategic endeavours, and help them as well as their organisation achieve more. Whether it’s building the next breakthrough product, creating a personalised customer experience, or redefining business processes, AI can help support the performance of the business.

Considering the prominent role AI will play in the future workplace and society as a whole, it is essential that the technology is transparent, secure, and sets the highest bar for protecting privacy, while also being inclusive and respectful to all. To ensure this, Microsoft grounds its work in a set of design principles.

Amongst others, these include the need for AI to be transparent, that AI has to maximise efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people, that AI must be designed for privacy and possess algorithmic accountability. Furthermore, AI must guard against bias, ensuring representative research that doesn’t discriminate.

It is not an exaggeration to say that AI will have an impact on all aspects of our personal and professional lives in the future. This provides us with tremendous opportunities and, for sure, significant challenges. As a starting point, education is critical to ensure that we arm today’s and tomorrow’s workforce with the skillsets they need for success for that future, while ensuring that we democratise AI for all. 

For press enquiries contact 

  • Jennifer Singleton – Microsoft South Africa
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • + 27 11 361 7862   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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