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Never Mind the Buzz

Alistair Gerrard
Feb 15, 2024

I may be in the minority on this, but one of the highlights of Christmas for me is not the turkey-based feast or the array of spectacular gifts (read that as you wish…) under the tree; it’s the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures on the BBC. So, I guess I ought to start with an apology to those not in the UK for whom this seasonal treat may be a little harder to enjoy.

Allow me, then, if you will, to give you a brief overview. The lectures are hosted by a leading scientist in the field for a given topic, and there are three one-hour lectures that are peppered with special guest appearances of leading experts from around the World. And, conveniently for me, the subject matter is targeted to a teenage audience, allowing me to keep up with subjects I know nothing about, or helping me get a firmer grasp of subjects I am more familiar with. This year the subject was in the latter camp. Maybe you’ve heard about it? It’s called AI.

So, if you get the chance, then I would strongly recommend you taking a peek at this (last?) year’s lectures.

Currently it is hard to escape the buzz (or clamour?) surrounding AI and the perceived wisdom is that every business needs AI, and the adage that businesses need to run to stand still seems to resonate with me on this. Businesses will need AI to keep up with their competitors as it could give companies a genuine competitive edge or advantage. Sogeti’s own Cognitive QA used AI to compare projects and provide insight into software delivery projects. Was a Red RAG status genuinely red, and how do you compare two projects with the same red status? Which one do you focus your energy on? Which one is genuinely a concern? Cognitive QA could work this out for you and help prioritize your efforts accordingly.

This is an important point. Whilst I hold the perceived view that companies will need AI, their efforts to adopt it need to be focused. Because AI is good at some tasks and not others and you want it to be the right tool for the job, so the following table provides a guide to help understand where you look to implement AI.

Tasks AI is good atTasks AI is less good at…
Pattern recognitionCommon Sense Reasoning
Prediction and forecastingCreativity and Innovation
AutomationEthical Decision-Making
Natural Language ProcessingEmotional Intelligence
Image and Speech RecognitionAdaptability to Unforeseen Situations
PersonalizationComplex Problem-Solving
Medical DiagnosisPhysical Dexterity and Mobility
Autonomous VehiclesUnderstanding Context and Intent
GamingLong Term Planning and Strategy
Fraud DetectionPrivacy and Security

At this point I believe it is important to remember KISS. No not the band. The phrase “Keep It Simple Stupid”. If you are going to implement AI then start small and keep it simple. By creating a longer term strategy and accompanying plans the journey can be broken down into smaller, more achievable components, and those components can then be knitted together over time. Don’t be over-ambitious!

Another message from the Royal Institute’s lectures was just how much AI has already penetrated society. It is all around us already. Some instances we adopt freely almost without a second thought, such as voice recognition on our phones or home devices. Others cause greater consternation, if only briefly as we adapt to the change, such as image recognition helping us price our fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. But one thing is certain, AI is already here, amongst us, and it’s not going to go away. That presents an opportunity for organizations looking to adopt AI to build on the successes of others. Can you reuse existing technology to accelerate your worn journey, adapting it to your own needs?

In closing, as we reflect on the profound impact and ubiquity of AI in our lives, let us heed the call to action. Embrace the transformative potential of AI but do so wisely. Remember the guiding principle of KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Start small, focus on achievable goals, and gradually expand your AI initiatives. Whether it’s enhancing customer experiences, optimizing operations, or unlocking new insights, let’s harness AI responsibly and ethically. Let’s collaborate, learn from each other’s successes and failures, and forge a path towards a future where AI empowers us to innovate, create, and thrive. The time is now. Let’s seize it together. Never mind the buzz – let’s make the buzz work for us.

About the author

Alistair Gerrard

Managing Consultant 1
Upon graduating I applied my problem-solving skills into supporting production software directly with end-users, leading a role testing charge card authorizations for Diners Club International, and ultimately this gave me my first opportunity in automation when I automated regression testing for authorizations and performance tested the international authorizations switch.

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