“AI is a field of computer science that aims to create machines and software that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as understanding language, recognizing images, making decisions, and learning from data.” 1
That’s the definition Bing’s Chat Enterprise tool gave me when I asked it to describe AI. AI is the buzziest of all buzzy topics in 2023 and organizations and individuals are jumping on the bandwagon. How much of this is hype and how much of it is rooted in AI’s true potential to transform our world?
In my view, recent advancements in AI – and the emergence of generative AI in particular – have created tremendous opportunities for businesses to work more efficiently. And for Sikich, where our mission is to provide insights and services that help clients address their most complex business challenges, we not only have an opportunity to embrace AI internally but a responsibility to help our clients understand the opportunities and risks of any new technology, including AI.
AI is more than ChatGPT
First off, AI is not new. Companies, including Sikich, have used different technologies that fall under the broad umbrella of “AI” for years. Our technology experts regularly help manufacturing companies deploy Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which allow physical devices to connect to a central system and share data. Using AI algorithms, the data from an IoT device can be analyzed to make predictions and improve a machine’s efficiency. For example, it can predict when a machine is about to fail so that a technician can be notified to resolve the issue proactively. Our dedicated intelligent automation services team also provides clients with access to advanced technologies, including robotic process automation.
Predictive analytics is another form of AI that companies regularly use today. Teams use predictive analytics models to find patterns that allow them to predict future behavior. In practice, an inventory control manager can use predictive analytics to anticipate future events, such as spikes in demand, and proactively adjust stock levels.
Generative AI is likely what comes to mind when you think about AI – as it has garnered significant attention in the media and the corporate world. Bringing in our chat tool to help again, “Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as text, images, music, audio, and videos, using generative models. Generative models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics.”
Generative AI is receiving so much buzz because of the value it can provide to companies, when correctly harnessed. Potential use cases include content development, meeting transcription and summarization, dataset organization and analysis, chatbot deployment and optimization, website code development, and more.
Using AI as a tool for growth and innovation
When it comes to emerging technologies, at Sikich, we’re always on the edge of our seat. As a technology-enabled professional services organization, we love exploring new tools, identifying opportunities and risks, and helping our clients solve problems to achieve business goals.
While many organizations and individuals are feverishly working to implement AI tools, we believe it’s important to take a sober-minded approach to technological adoption. We keep our knowledge and exploration at the bleeding edge but remain wary of the risks. This approach allows us to stay educated on available tools while also ensuring we protect our people and our clients and guide them on how to best deploy emerging technologies like AI.
With the recent advancements in generative AI, we’ve quickly ramped up our internal expertise. We’re working closely with our technology partners to understand the latest tools and capabilities and assessing where there is value for our clients. Given the range of companies Sikich works with, we’ve set up working groups to explore the impact of this technology (and other emerging technologies) across industries and business structures.
When it comes to AI, data privacy and the lack of legal precedent are major risks to monitor. Before implementing any tools, Sikich set up an AI Use Policy to guide our employees on what they can and cannot do with AI tools. Additionally, we’ve launched multiple training sessions to educate employees and encourage safe use of AI.
Another area we are focused on is data quality. The quality of any AI tool is dependent on the quality of the data feeding that tool. Organizations should put in place strong data standards and data governance processes and thoroughly cleanse data before fully embracing AI. Sikich has recently launched a data and analytics practice to help companies do just that. With the right data strategy in place, companies will be set up to maximize the value of their investments in AI.
Regardless of where a company is in its AI journey – or if it’s exploring another emerging technology – we’re fully embracing our entrepreneurial spirit and technological expertise to help our clients advance innovation and drive business success.
1Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, a textbook by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig that covers the theory and practice of AI.