To transform your business needs the courage to break with old habits.
Winning companies act like children. Old and established procedures and habits do not limit them.
If you want to transform your business, learn from the champions of learning, the children.
The joy of a child is the joy of learning, the realization of something new.
A child does not think whether she or he can do something. Instead, a child tests, tries, makes mistakes and learns. A child seeks examples and models from the environment, other children, and adults. Based on these, a child imitates and learns.
Traditional ways of thinking or past practices do not limit children. An appropriate stimulus and push to explore new things further improves learning.
Winning companies act like children. They continually learn and break the boundaries of existing industries. Just think about companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Tesla – the list is long and growing. With artificial intelligence, these companies also learn faster than competitors.
However, behaving like a child is not limited to modern technology companies. Traditional companies can also be curious, boldly try something new and learn with ever greater speed. Like Kone is building partnerships with APIs. Or Tetrapak is changing its business model with a B2B marketplace. Like them, you can also transform your business.
AI and children learn in the same way
Children learn from examples such as “this is a dog.” Based on one example, a child can identify different types of dogs as they are similar. In the same way, artificial intelligence needs samples from which it learns. Supervised learning does precisely that, learns from examples. Deep neural networks and tremendous computing power make this way of learning very effective. The performance of machines in many tasks already exceeds human skills.
For instance, AI can identify cancer tissue from a patient’s magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging. Philips and Silo AI developed a computer vision solution for this. It analyzes MRI images to detect organs for 3D segmentation. With the solution, radiotherapy can be better targeted at diseased cells, leaving the healthy tissue intact. Through innovations like this, radiotherapy staff can take advantage of machine vision to improve care quality.
A child also experiments and learns through positive and negative feedback. We call it reinforcement learning in AI terms. Artificial Intelligence Alpha Go learned to play Go brilliantly in one week with reinforcement learning. It experiments with different moves and gets feedback on their impact. Then it makes subsequent moves based on everything previously learned.
Currently, artificial intelligence solves well-defined problems. Therefore, companies need a childlike insight to connect things in new ways.
When we combine AI with childlike curiosity, we get a winning recipe. Companies make unexpected leaps expanding their offering. Once a company enters a new domain, it gains access to data in the new industry. Hence, it can learn a new industry’s logic faster than the incumbents, and deliver better services than its competitors. Besides, new users and customers generate new data. This new data helps AI develop ever-better services. The positive spiral is complete.
Transform your business in the forest industry
An excellent example of the positive learning cycle is a Finnish company Collective Crunch. Its Linda forest platform evaluates forest resource information. It uses AI to tell where to harvest the wood to get the best possible pulp. Or how to find the toughest logs.
Collective Crunch analytical approach identifies interdependencies between layers that influence the growth of trees. AI identifies and models the parameters that influence the growth of trees, distribution of species, and other characteristics of forest inventory.
Collective Crunch algorithms are suitable for many other purposes. However, the company decided to specialize in the forest to stay focused. It started to learn together with customers faster than its incumbent competitors. Each customer brings new data. Then, AI processes this data to benefit the entire forest community.
AI transforms ESG reporting
Curious companies don’t settle with the same information as competitors. They are always wondering how to get better data.
The analysis and reporting service IDS is the German insurance company Allianz’s subsidiary. IDS reports to its customers on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters.
Companies publish ESG information in a variety of reports. These reports are difficult to analyze as they aretypically in a PDF format.
With an AI lab Silo AI, IDS developed an AI solution based on natural language processing (NLP). NLP can retrieve ESG information from PDF documents. Thus, by leveraging AI, IDS understands how, when, and how much companies invest in tackling climate change. Besides, it reports what results from these actions they expect.
Thus, the smart solution provides essential information to any investor. Furthermore, the more reports AI analyzes, the better its ability to understand ESG data develops. Continuous learning increases competitive advantage.
Business transformation with AI in environmental services
The Helsinki Region Environmental Services (HSY) and Silo AI developed an AI solution to analyze sewer network blockages. The length of HSY’s sewerage network is 3,000 kilometers, consisting of 100,000 pipes. Blockages in sewer pipelines often lead to significant property and environmental damage. With the AI solution, HSY will be able to target their repairs better. Therefore, it can prevent up to a third of blockages.
The AI solution can also identify features in the piping that affect the occurrence of blockages. In this way, engineers can select the most suitable pipe sizes and materials that are not prone to develop blockages.
Transform your business by learning faster and staying curious
None of these examples in themselves seem very revolutionary. But as companies learn together with customers, it leads to a positive spiral. With AI, a company processes data for better customer value.
With human insight, companies often only later realize that they can use the developed solution in new areas. Like HSY is expanding its use of AI from waste pipes into water pipes. In this way, continuous learning accumulates into a competitive advantage that is difficult to win. And this leads to an actual business transformation.
I wrote this blog while learning to sail a bigger boat on a trip to a beautiful Finnish island Jurmo. Originally published by the Bonfire business media in Finnish.