Becoming Competitive with AI

Take a look at any business, including your own. There is hardly a trick under the sun that your business has not tried to remain competitive. People are ‘inventing’ new approaches all the time. Except, with each passing day, those tricks and tactics are becoming less effective. And, that is a problem. Because, without a competitive edge, you cannot attract customers, talent or investments. 

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Now, there is another fundamental shift. AI (artificial intelligence) is completely redefining the business landscape. AI is creating new and unfamiliar realities. It is demanding a totally new approach to developing and executing strategy.

AI (artificial intelligence) is completely redefining the business landscape.

What becomes of your competitive advantage in the ‘Age of AI’? Will AI kill whatever competitive advantage you might still have? Or, more importantly, does AI provide an opportunity to build a new edge? The short answer is both.

If you like fashion, you think of Paris, Milan or New York. You immediately and automatically think of companies like Dior, Zara or Nike. But, going forward, soon, you may be going to Seattle to find out about the new trends in fashion.  At its Lab126, Amazon has developed an AI-based ‘fashion designer’. Just by looking at few images, the algorithm can quickly suggest new styles that can be created from scratch. If you are thinking that the code is immature and not ready, you are missing the point. What takes Zara or H&M weeks to determine what is selling and what is not and then decide on the ‘next style’, the AI fashion designer is doing it in minutes. What involves hundreds, if not thousands of stylists and designers, AI works alone and only needs a bunch of images. Also, if this is what is possible now, imagine where the world of business will be in 2022? When the new fashion designer arrives, it will redefine the established firms: who does what, business model, supply chain relationships and most importantly, creative imagination.

An Australian startup, Douugh, is turning banking into a platform with AI. It has developed ‘Sophie’, a personal banker that is available through an app. Again, at first, there is nothing special about what Douugh is doing. Everybody, including your bank, has an app these days. Step a little closer and you begin to see a different picture. Banking does not have to be a ‘closed business’ inside the operations of an organization. It can be platform where third-party firms can provide additional value-add. Customers no longer have to rely on a bank’s branch, website or app for banking. They can tap Sophie or Alexa. In other words, AI is becoming the ‘bank and banker’.

Banking does not have to be a ‘closed business’ inside the operations of an organization.

Yes, it is quite possible that startups like Douugh may fail and disappear. But, using AI, these companies are creating the new paradigms of banking. Now, if you are a bank, AI becomes a direct competitor. For sure, you can argue that AI will mostly support and enhance the human endeavors. But, you can also argue that AI will eat into and reinvent what humans will do.

Now, if you are a bank, AI becomes a direct competitor

Irrespective, do you know what kind of AI will flatten your competitive edge? For Expedia, an online travel platform, AI offers a way to compete with Google. At the moment, when a person is exploring deals, s/he automatically goes to Google as a first step. Expedia is exploring partnerships with Amazon, Apple and FaceBook where, using bots, Expedia can provide a better customer experience and hopefully, weaken Google’s grip. In this case, AI is offering Expedia the ability to build a new edge.

Publicis, the French advertising and PR firm, is building a competitive edge with AI by connecting the right talent from any of its global offices to the right project happening anywhere in the world. This gives the firm the ability to execute with speed and right capabilities.

When it comes to ordinary clothing items like men’s shirts, all eyes turn to low-cost countries in Asia. You cannot beat the scale or speed. Even if somebody has a new idea, most people give up thinking that making clothes is Asia’s game and they do not stand a chance. That did not stop a US-based startup, Original Stitch. The firm is applying machine vision (a form of AI) to make custom-made shirts for men. While you can get a shirt coming out of an Asian factory for $5, it is one-size-fits-all approach. Some times the shirt is a perfect fit. Most of the time, people adjust.

Using AI, Original Stitch is not only able to enter the game but has also developed a unique place for itself. How will AI change your competitive advantage? The sooner you can answer the question, the faster you will ‘Profit from AI’.

Dit is het tweede opiniestuk dat Aseem met ons in de aanloop naar het robotevent heeft gedeeld. Aseem is wereldwijd actief als AI Business Strategist, waarbij hij o.a. werkt in het Center for Innovating The Future (Toronto, Canada). Hij is gespecialiseerd in innovatie op basis van kunstmatige intelligentie en de samenwerking tussen mensen en robots. Aseem heeft gewerkt aan tal van projecten in 16 verschillende landen in Azië, Europa en Noord-Amerika.

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Wat zijn de businesskansen van slimme machines? Laat je volledig informeren door Aseem en vele andere topsprekers op 12 oktober 2017 tijdens Impact Robotisering van NRC Live.

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