Predictions for 2018

I have been invited to speak at a global digital conference in February in the Netherlands on the topic of Artificial Intelligence and for those of you who know me; you can probably imagine how excited I am by the prospect!

Having spent a substantial amount of time in The Netherlands during my early career working for Dutch banking giant ABNAMRO and also GE Capital, the chance to travel there again is not the highlight of my trip, instead, it is the chance to share one of my driving passions with other business leaders—Artificial Intelligence.

To prepare for my speech I have been researching and updating our data points and a few interesting and relevant statistics jumped out at me which I feel compelled to share with you.

According to Gartner, the phrase Artificial Intelligence didn’t appear in its top 100 search term rankings in 2016 but ranked number 7 in 2017—a  formidable leap which gives credence to the notion that we are currently in an AI hype cycle. Moreover, according to PWC, the value of the AI market is estimated to reach $70bn in 2020.

Both of these data points reinforce my belief that AI is going to continue to increase in importance and prominence and that it is going to impact each and every one of us. As clients of Elephants don’t forget, you are already interacting with AI in the workplace and so you are, in many respects, early adopters—congratulations and well done!

During my research I read that probably the most visible use of AI in the workplace over the next decade would be the use of ‘virtual assistants,’ (software that uses natural language processing to simulate human interaction either via voice or text), primarily chatbots and applications similar to, and including, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. One commentator, in fact, claimed that in 10 years’ time an executive that does not have an Artificially Intelligent virtual assistant would be akin to an executive today not having access to the internet! I believe him, considering it would be foolish not to take advantage of a technology that will improve your operational efficiency and reduce your life stress.

At this point in time Siri is irritating and is likely to get more things wrong than right, but it’s just a matter of time as the Internet of Things (IoT) is only going to accelerate the extent to which virtual assistants flourish. Today, I can, and do, control my heating from my phone and can answer my door and monitor workplace security. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I am in America and DHL ring my doorbell and I can see and speak with the delivery driver and relay and record my instructions—even in the dark.

Technology is clever, but only when it genuinely improves my life experience do I believe that it is put to genuinely ‘good’ use. Answering the door remotely saves me no end of hassle while answering emails on my watch fails, in my opinion, to elicit much benefit, but to each their own.

The research that really grabbed my attention, however, was the prediction that of all the aspects of the business world, AI was going to be the most prevalent in the area of education. The general consensus seems to be that in the next decade all workplace education and adolescent learning will contain significant elements of AI.

Funnily enough, while the fact didn’t surprise me, the prediction did. We speak with hundreds of companies every month and many of them remain ignorant of the use and advantage of AI in corporate learning. My prediction over the next twelve months is that AI in corporate L&D is going to land and land with a bump! It’s only the second week of 2018 and already we have received a new enquiry every working day of this new year.

It seems more and more L&D professionals and functional leaders are waking up to the fact that Artificial Intelligence can add immediate value to their function and can do so in a low cost and unobtrusive way. I would, of course, like to claim that this huge increase in interest is a result of my monthly blog postings illustrating the benefits of AI, but Kirsty has pointed out that this newsletter only goes to our clients and that I was preaching to the already converted!

Have a brilliant 2018 and let’s see just how much impact AI actually has this year.