Institute of Directors urges businesses to embrace AI

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In the first of the Institute of Directors’ new Innovation Series of presentations, automation expert David Brown said that while many organisations said that they intended to adopt AI in their business plans, they often did not follow through with their commitments.

Mr Brown, chairman of the IoD’s technology sub-committee, said that reasons for not doing so included concerns over staff not having the skills to adapt to new systems and a lack of understanding of the benefits that AI could offer.

‘People are saying this is part of our strategic plan, this is going to be part of our customer service. But I think there is still that reticence to make this step,’ he said.

‘In 2018, 23% of companies surveyed said that they were going to adopt AI but only 5% did.’

He added: ‘The whole point of automation is to make staff do something useful, more tangible and more applicable to a human, like answering the phone.

‘Most businesses are struggling with staff retention or keeping staff numbers while trying to grow businesses.’

Mr Brown said that AI could generate ‘significant savings’ and improve ‘repetitive time-critical processes’ such as making payments or charging invoices, testing and client services.

An example he used was breast cancer screening, where AI programs have proved to be more accurate than doctors at examining mammograms.

He said that he believed that companies needed to overcome the ‘fear’ that was associated with ‘the robots taking over’.

‘Don’t think because you have a cranky old system over here that you can’t integrate, or if the system that you need sits with the regulator, like the JFSC,’ he added.

‘You can introduce AI with all of these things and the benefits are here.’

The next IoD event focuses on diversity and takes place on 14 February at the Royal Yacht in partnership with Lean In and The Diversity Network.

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