Innovation Management Internet of Things

Big data and semantic analysis: how AI will shake up companies

15 December 2015

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Big data and semantic analysis: how AI will shake up companies

Artificial intelligence (AI) and, on a broader level, “cognitive information” are riding on the wave of big data, offering innovation in the way information is used and assisting decision making. Semantic analysis, on the other hand, is helping develop dialogue with clients. It appears that significant shifts, to applications and professions, are on the horizon for companies in a number of different sectors.

For companies moving forward in their digital transformation, artificial intelligence is an inescapable concept. According to all the experts, AI and, on a broader level, “cognitive information” could even be the future “post-internet” revolution!

AI has been a well-known phenomenon in laboratories for the last twenty or so years. Currently, it is reaching a turning point, thanks to the increased processing power of new computers, allowing progression from the “old” expert system to computers able to learn on their own. Furthermore, this also allows huge masses of information — structured and unstructured — from big data to be used, as well as the deployment of semantic analysis of content.

This revolution will have a number of consequences on companies in terms of innovation; it will accompany them as they speed up their “post web” evolution, a process of “digital transformation” which will make them more responsive and more open to their community (partners, clients and collaborators). The same goes for technology, applications, professions, organisations, offerings and, of course, client relationships.

Close to human-level understanding

It is clear that industry and I.T. labs have made strides forward since the first expert systems appeared. Let’s take the example of Watson, the supercomputer specialised in data analysis and interpretation (artificial intelligence and cognitive management). Introduced in 2006 by IBM, Watson is now able to store, analyse, adapt and interpret data. The computer is able to analyse textual, audio and video sources; furthermore, it is able to rectify its own errors, through a learning process and continuous updating (in particular by taking on board feedback from the human operators). With an error percentage of just 4%, Watson is now reaching human levels of understanding!

Through the billions invested in artificial intelligence technology, particularly in the area of cognitive information, AI is now present in the finance, distribution, tourism, services and medicine sectors.

Speeding up innovation

Consulting professionals, meanwhile, are aiming to make better use of AI, through use cases. With the spread of cognitive information and the improvement of AI, innovation will be accelerated, to the point of being turbulent.

In the future, we are likely to see new ways of using structured and unstructured big data (for example refining data for marketing and CRM), word recognition, understanding of meaning (for call centres and legal advice), improvements to human-machine interfaces through bringing together the cognitive and robotic fields, etc.

Numerous sectors will be affected by this: banks, through virtual consultation; transport, with customer assistance and predictive maintenance; energy, with new support applications; and even retail, to improve customer experience.

Neither will professions be able to evade this evolution. Cognitive information is likely to affect all levels of companies: human resources, marketing and CRM, with all the new self-learning solutions available, as well as cybersecurity.

Up and running applications

New applications have taken shape, in particular in the area of semantic analysis, which added to voice recognition; can greatly improve dialogue with customers through robots. Bringing together AI with big data capabilities will also facilitate corpus analysis and the study of trends, helped by the ability to understand the meaning of texts. Capable of handling huge volumes, AI and big data will together change the way companies fashion their added value, making use of a wealth of information which is sometimes “dormant”.

There are many examples of use in the United States: in healthcare, supporting doctors; in tourism, helping travellers choose their trips; and in call centres. Soon we will see uses in Europe, for example: in healthcare as part of tobacco control; in recruitment, providing assistance for training, managing offers and CVs; in nuclear power, to collect information from retiring experts; and in predictive maintenance.

I.T. companies and consulting professionals will have to work together to make this post-internet revolution a reality within companies.

To give our many years working on artificial intelligence a concrete form, we have just created our European centre for excellence in cognitive information technology. Innovation, co-innovation and man-machine interaction are at the centre of this undertaking, as part of an industrialisation strategy. Sopra Steria has sought to develop using technology from the IBM Watson Developer Cloud, so as to test and deploy new use cases and innovative solutions for their clients, in order to provide support in the process of digital transformation.

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