In March, Globant sponsored the annual Triad Digital Technology Conference. It’s a technology event attended by about 300 professionals from a region that’s home to the likes of Reynolds American Tobacco, BB&T bank, VF Corporation (The North Face, Wrangler Jeans, Dickies, etc.), Volvo Trucks, LabCorp, etc.
Small Footprint (SFP), acquired by Globant last year, has been a primary sponsor of the event from its beginning. Rob Robless, founder of the Triad event, has organized it for the last five years. Globers came together from the Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and Seattle offices—including Bill Bronske—to present their thought leadership on digital technology and transformation. Though the event was a few months ago, the insights we garnered from the interests of those in attendance reverberate and reveal the status and expectations of various industry executives for digital transformations in 2019.
AI, a Critical Vehicle in the Digital Journey
It’s clear from the attendees’ questions: these organizations keep seeking the ability to offer the kind of products that their consumers and businesses want. In the attempt to operate differently and positively disrupt their business, companies want to use technology more seamlessly in their processes. Leaders understand that this means innovating more rapidly, ahead of consumer needs. But the biggest question this year was: how can we apply Artificial Intelligence to achieve these goals? Along with it came the necessary questions of what to do with large amounts of organizational data, and how to take advantage of the deployment speed of available technology.
This event revealed the focus of these companies with regard to digital transformation. They are tuned into AI and data technologies at the center of driving new business value, meanwhile conscious that maturing UX techniques and Agile culture practices are fueling organizational and process transformation in today’s Digital Era.
Lessons on Industries and Applying AI
We began with a focus on AI-driven business transformations within insurance, a centuries-old industry. Machine learning for actuarial predictions is now widespread and standard across providers. New innovations within the industry are using Image data, deep-learning, sensors, and computer vision to actively prevent accidents and alert property owners of hazardous conditions. Insurance customers have raised expectations of additional, personalized peace-of-mind value from their providers rather than seeing them only as a necessary safeguard. There are similar accounts for other industries, but our conversation started here.
Throughout the day, we focused on applying AI as the next revolution. Projected GDP growth from AI capabilities demand that businesses outline their forward-looking AI and mission strategies now. Common themes echoed through many questions, made on- and offstage:
- Business value must drive AI use cases.
- Success requires understanding and maintaining realistic expectations for AI.
- Organizations are struggling to embrace an experimentation mindset.
- Scarcity of skilled and experienced team members is hampering progress.
- Successful pilot efforts can be frustrated when scaling the efforts into a production mode, if the team doesn’t start with multi-tenant data and microservice infrastructure strategies for production-ready agility.
The concept of approaching AI systematically as a cognitive enterprise, while emphasizing the human side of business value is a big focus for companies.
- Organizations must begin with the proper vision (objectives and desired impact) for successful implementation of AI.
- Start small and plan big.
- Focusing on the value that people (customers, team members, and their uniquely human qualities) have to offer.
- Revisiting (often!) the use-case definition and prioritization according to corporate vision.
- Ensuring that teams can count on a culture of innovation and have access to the right processes and technology.
A Practical Guide for AI Success
A proven metaphor for the digital journey with AI is a modified comparison to Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” Executives listened in, also receiving practical team and leadership guidance. They were looking for the evolution steps which move teams beyond the industrial mindset to one that is truly cognitive. They participated in the discussion of pragmatic effort-selection advice for greatest business value. Rounding out the presentation, we looked at high-performance team culture-building. Based on the number of audience members who lingered even after the presentation was finished, the messaging resonated with the audience.
Globant: Bringing it Together
As a takeaway, we can confirm that businesses are hungry to leverage holistic solutions that generate business value. They’re not interested in trying to engineer implementations of individual technologies. Companies are trying to evolve to use technology better but are faced with clients that only know legacy processes and tech skills related to legacy technologies. So they’re looking for solutions-based approaches that bring an entire product engineering approach, applying AI and Data solutions that can be adapted to their business needs. And they’re looking to partner with organizations with the know-how. Executives want a way to manage that approach by monitoring progress and making decisions in real-time to adapt the product deliveries’ course as market desires shift. Overall, they get that business value can only be achieved if organizations can leverage comprehensive transformative solutions for digital products.
The “promise” and the “technologies” of AI are now converging. Businesses have received market expectations, and set their own accordingly: “we will disrupt or be disrupted.” The future is being discovered, and we look forward to innovating constantly, co-creating solutions with our clients to work for what this conference was all about: “Delivering Business Value Through Digital Transformation.”