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Artificial intelligence (AI) gets plenty of attention these days in the context of business transformation, but organizations should not view it as a cure-all for all business problems. That was the clear message delivered during a morning session on intelligent and autonomous solutions today at IFS World Conference, taking place this week in Boston.

The key is to figure out how AI delivers value. That has been the driving principle as IFS has added AI capabilities to its solutions, said Bob de Caux, IFS Vice President of Artificial Intelligence. As part of the session, de Caux and Bas de Vos, Director of IFS Labs, shared the vendor’s AI and machine learning plans for 2020 and beyond.

But to start, de Caux wanted to address a common misconception. “We’ve heard so much about AI in last few years that it’s easy to think it can solve all your problems. AI is an enabler; it’s a set of tools you can use to solve your business problems.”

For AI to deliver value in problem solving, it needs the following:

  • A strong data foundation
  • A clear business case
  • Ease of use for non-technical people

Without these elements in place, AI projects are bound to fail, de Caux said. Businesses need to collect and analyze data before knowing what to do with it. And that requires building a strong business case that clarifies how AI delivers value.

In implementing AI, organizations need to think of the users. Make it too hard to use, and users may reject it. Projects fail when AI is too complicated and the experts cannot figure out how to communicate why the technology is being implemented.

Delivering Results

While much of what de Caux and de Vos discussed is forward-looking, IFS applications are already using AI and connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver business results. One case involves Rolls Royce’s aircraft engine manufacturing division.

Nick Ward, Head of Product Management for Digital Services at Rolls Royce, said the company uses a solution called Intelligent Insights, which is powered by IFS technology, to track the health of its aircraft engines in use by various airlines. Today, he said, some 30,000 Rolls Royce engine are in operation.

Rolls Royce has created what it calls a Blue Data Threat to share information back and forth with airlines to monitor the health of engines and streamline maintenance practices. This flow of information connects physical engines with a digital twin that enables maintenance decisions with minimal disruption and increased efficiency.

Machine Learning

De Caux said IFS has been using AI for some time, and one example is its introduction of the Aurena bot, an interactive component of user experience (US) the vendor has now made available through its full complement of solutions.The Aurena bot leverages machine learning, a subset of AI.

There’s more to come on the machine learning front. De Caux said IFS is introducing a machine learning service in 2020. It is designed to address specific business problems through powerful algorithms, and will be easy to use, he said.

Using a combination of proprietary and available industry algorithms, the machine learning engine will try different combinations to come up with the best solution to a business problem. This “bespoke” quality means companies don’t have to use pre-canned examples that aren’t relevant to their business, but instead use algorithm combinations that adapt to the business and its evolution.

The technology will have an “explainable” component, de Caux said. This means systems won’t just tell you what decision was reached, but actually why. So if a bank denies a loan application to a customer, the reason for denial can be explained to the customer in ways the customer should understand.

Also in 2020, de Vos said, IFS is introducing augmented collaboration services for tasks such as remote assistance for service and maintenance, and remote customer support and training. The services will help reduce training time, increase the instances of filed service successful reparis on the first try, decrease site visits for service technicians and help with on-the-job knowledge capture.

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Photography by Kurt Rebry

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