Whether you followed the latest gadgets unveiled at CES last month, or like me, attended the recent Acquired or Be Acquired Conference, the conversation around how artificial intelligence (AI) and big data promise to transform the world is not going away anytime soon.
AI may conjure images of a sci-fi thriller for some, but the reality is that machine learning has already become a part of our daily lives. More importantly, it’s just the latest application of what technology has facilitated for even longer: the ability to collect and use data to predict activity that can make our lives and businesses more efficient.
Is there a business owner among us who doesn’t want to minimize the guesswork in decision-making? While technology cannot foresee every curveball, a restaurant owner, for example, gains tremendous benefit from the ability to more accurately order supplies, reducing food waste in the process, based upon data-fueled predictions of diners likely to order salmon each week.
In my world, banks have long had access to vast amounts of data, and using that data to achieve greater efficiency and provide better service is a no brainer. I have yet to speak with a banking client who relishes the idea of filling out a loan application from scratch if there’s a way to automatically populate the paperwork with information we already have on record.
Still, we can’t deny that many are fearful that smarter technology can eliminate jobs. While I can’t speak for every CEO, for those of us driven by putting people first and minimizing needless complexity, technology doesn’t replace humans — it simply empowers us to better optimize our teams and make smarter decisions. Those decisions translate to creating a better banking experience for our clients, which in turn keeps us competitive, fuels growth, and can ultimately lead to hiring even more great people who understand technology’s value.
Of course, with innovation comes new threats and we cannot be flippant about the risks of AI or any technological advancement. The barrage of cybersecurity threats alone brings justifiable concern among businesses and consumers alike. But, just as we didn’t abandon the early automobile over safety concerns, we must seize the immense value of machine learning while continuing to evolve our safeguards.