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How Non-Tech Companies Can Leverage AI

A Q&A with Jordan Reynolds, Global Director of Data Science

We talked to Jordan Reynolds, Global Director of Data Science, about how traditionally non-"tech" companies can leverage AI to solve business problems.

How does a company even start its very first AI project?

There are clear benefits for companies using AI and machine learning. But when it comes to getting started, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

The most important thing companies can do is consider current business challenges and apply an AI lens. When AI is used to help solve real, compelling business challenges, companies can realize real value quickly with a minimum viable product (MVP) approach.

And once they've started, how do they get off to a good start?

The MVP approach is based on the idea that depth of value beats breadth of application. Instead of focusing on building a broad base of foundational AI capabilities generalized across multiple use cases, the MVP approach builds a full stack of capabilities and value focused on a narrow, high-priority use case.

This full stack starts with foundational connectivity and data models, and also includes descriptive analytics, root cause analysis, predictive modeling, and all the way up to prescriptive modeling and autonomous optimization.

When value is realized for the high-priority use case (ideally linked to a significant business challenge), companies can then scale for additional use cases.

What are some things they should avoid?

AI doesn’t have to be a mystery. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to avoid black-box analytics capabilities—transparency and explain-ability are key. There are many companies that will outsource data science if you provide the data, but the benefits of these services can be limited, and this approach prevents companies from building analytics capabilities in-house. Instead, provide business context and a strong value case, and apply an agile minimum viable product (MVP) approach. You will enable platforms and methodologies that will sustain ROI for years to come.