AI is transforming the way businesses use data, make decisions and interact with customers – driving better business, customer and community outcomes. In our Building Digital Insights webinar, three industry specialists explain how AI is being applied in businesses of all sizes, and how your business can benefit.

Many organisations have collected vast pools of data, and where there’s data, there’s the opportunity to use AI for good/to make things better. Machine learning, a branch of AI, is used to discover patterns in data. It can reveal insights, provide recommendations or help support decisions with data.

AI is a rapidly growing area with seemingly unlimited potential, so if a business wants to adopt AI, where does it begin? CommBank's Chief Decision Scientist, Dan Jermyn tackled this question in a recent CommBank Foresight webinar with Dr Michael Proksch, Head of Subject Matter Experts at H2O.ai – a global leader in AI, and Kathy Richardson, an Executive Director at Our Community – a world-leading, social business that provides solutions for not-for-profit and grant making organisations. 

Why should you adopt AI, and how to do it well

At CommBank, “we think of ‘data science’ as being part of ‘decision science’, which is a combination of AI, data science, experimentation and analytics, with the goal of driving improved decision making,” Jermyn says. Decision science harnesses the organisation’s people and technology to produce measurably better outcomes for customers and the community, safely and securely. It’s this collaborative approach to AI that propels better business outcomes as people combine their collective insights to experimentation, planning and measuring outcomes. 

Proksch agrees that AI “isn’t just about technology, it’s a mindset. It augments human intelligence and should be seen as a partner in human decision making.”

At H2O.ai, - a global leader in AI – Proksch and his team have been using automated machine learning to produce frameworks that have enabled CommBank to deploy AI at previously unimaginable scales.

Importantly, H2O.ai believes in the democratisation of AI – organisations of all sizes should be able to tap into its power and benefits. H2O.ai helps businesses, many at the start of their AI implementations, to measurably improve their customer experience.

 “With our hybrid cloud, organisations can use their data to model deployment, training and monitoring and we let those companies consume those models in a very easy and accessible way,” Proksch says.

Organisations should aim for incremental, measurable improvements when adopting AI rather than expecting overnight transformation. This begins with experimentation, followed by identifying products, services and processes that can be made more efficient. Proksch believes that “decision making and decision support are good places to start,” reinforcing Jermyn’s view that decision science is an essential aspect of AI.

Beginning the AI journey

Proksch says that it’s important to have an AI strategy in place at the start of implementation that outlines a vision and communicates its benefits. While AI has the potential to transform businesses, it’s important to allay any anxiety when introducing AI to an organisation. Support and leadership are central.

Richardson’s experience with AI at ‘Our Community’ shows that adoption is “a journey the entire organisation should be involved in”.

Our Community is committed to bridging the gap between private and not-for-profit organisations. Our Community saw an opportunity to harness the substantial amount of data accumulated from its donation platform, GiveNow. Further data came from its work connecting community groups with corporations and government for grant funding.

Although Our Community is not a large organisation – it has about 70 staff – it decided in 2016 to employ a dedicated data scientist.

Including people across your business

The data scientist’s collaboration with the company’s subject matter experts is the key to AI success. “The data scientist is part of the team at Our Community and has helped everyone in the business start speaking the language of data,” Richardson says. “Seek out the curious people in your organisation who would like to discover more about data science and machine learning and encourage everyone to become data literate.”

Our Community has explored using AI to streamline grant assessment processes, hoping that AI can process answers to questions about eligibility criteria. It’s also interested in exploring how AI can help complete grant and tender applications.

Richardson believes successful implementation of AI must include ethical considerations. “Algorithms must be transparent for full visibility of all decision-making processes and evidence of bias. This means no black boxes.”

Businesses can either employ a data scientist or outsource AI to a specialist organisation. If outsourcing, it’s important to choose a company that can ensure data privacy and consider AI ethics in totality. Alternatively, if employing a data scientist, tech meetups are good places to contact data experts – a tip from Our Community’s experience.

Want to know more?

You’ll find more information about the economy, technology and sustainability, and how these can improve your business at CommBank Foresight – insights for future-facing businesses.