AI – prepare for digital invaders

Prepare for digital invaders
IBM World of Watson #ibmwow

If you’ve been following our tweets @JamesVickery and the blog this week you’ll know that I’m basically hanging around casinos in Vegas – well kind of. I’m at IBMs World of Watson as a guest of IBM at Mandalay Bay – today was a great start with a tour of the exhibitions and some presentations – tomorrow things get even bigger.

If you’ve ever felt like your business is falling behind due to online competition I’m discovering this week that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, if you think you’ve got a strategic advantage and you’re not planning on thinking about AI and cognitive technologies then you could find that any advantage you have will be wiped out much like businesses who failed to recognise ecommerce in the 90s and early 2k’s.

While it is true that there’s no such thing as an artificially intelligent being just yet (IBM prefers ‘Augmented Intelligence’ for that acronym), the primitive forms of AI appear to be enough to change
industries now and forever.

Prepare for digital invaders – robots and AI are already a thing… 

I’ve used a local dry cleaner who change front counter attendants so often that I’m rarely recognised as a customer though I’ve been taking my suits there for a few years. I am always asked ‘what’s your phone number’ so that they can identify me, followed by ‘when do you want to pick your clothes up?’ Or do you have any clothes to pickup?

Take Watson + a robot that I interacted with here today called Pepper. I walk in to the dry cleaner, pepper says hi because she instantly recognises my face using facial recognition software, I drop my clothes on the counter and she automatically counts them. The clothes are whisked away to a fulfilment centre while the shirts I dropped in last week are presented to me by a robotic arm. My credit card is billed much like an Uber transaction – no tapping, no cash changing hands, simple clean transaction.

The fact that Pepper couldn’t quite understand my accent when I tried to find a local Starbucks today is just a short term problem.


Despite these minor setbacks in comprehension this augmented human technology is already 90% there to wipe out the front counter attendant and many other roles in the service industry.

During my pre-conference stay at Caesars Palace I did not interact once with hotel staff, check in/check out was all handled by Kiosks that had my information ready to go. Within no time robots like Pepper will aide to make the boring old Kiosk more interactive, with voice operation and a much wider knowledge base because it is plugged in to the cloud.

These powerful innovations represent so much opportunity especially for businesses who have a 3 pillars mindset and leverage AI and automation to improve customer service.

In summary, there is a mind blowing number of presentations and demos still to be seen this week but today answered one of my key questions about AI. Is it close enough to affect our daily lives? And the answer is absolutely yes. The question is how will businesses like my friend the dry cleaner use it to disrupt their own industries before someone else does?


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