While often overhyped and sometimes misapplied, artificial intelligence is already driving genuine business outcomes, according to its advocates. Which-50 spoke with executives working with AI in an attempt to cut through the hype and understand how the technology is being used today.

Nigel Watson, Google Cloud head of cloud technology partners, Japan and APAC, told Which-50 AI is helping to reduce manual data analysis and doing so at a speed beyond humans.

He used the example of retailers applying vision APIs to their visual catalogues to identify certain products based on criteria from customers.

“For instance [retailers] might be interested in showing just the green dresses in the catalogue or the brown socks,” Watson explained. AI is able to analyse the catalogue almost instantly to identify those features based only on images.

Another common use of AI, Watson said, is the ingestion of customer speech to text, which then feeds an application allowing automated responses or resources in customer care scenarios. Energy retailers are also applying machine learning and AI to energy consumption data to offer customers advice on their energy usage, according to Watson.

“We see a lot of space for innovation,” Watson told Which-50.

“We see a lot of customers taking existing data sets and then applying machine learning to pull further insights and further analytics out of those data sets to drive business outcomes.”


Intelligent enterprises effectively use their data assets to achieve their desired outcomes faster – and with less risk.


Australia’s banks are also using AI, according to Shamima Sultana, founder of Vectore, an advisory firm dealing mainly with AI application. Vectore worked with one of Australia’s big four banks to automate several documentation tasks and develop tools to provide “the next best conversation with the customer”.

In this example AI is used in conjunction with a “human element”, Sultana said, with the mix allowing employees to better serve customers. Applying AI in this hybrid way is critical, according to Sultana.

“AI, as a big technology, you don’t want to just drop it in a bank environment and just run with it,” she said.

“It needs to be handheld, it needs to be advocated. It needs to have proper awareness around it so people actually embrace those kind of technologies.”

About the author

Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which SAP is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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