What opportunities are offered by artificial intelligence (AI)? Whether you’re in the IT sector or retail sales, this question should definitely be on your radar. As with the Internet and mobile, this new technology is about to transform the way you do business.
As proof of its importance, the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO), which brings together AI professional and researchers, has assembled more than $200 million in investment, of which $4.5 million alone is from Google, in order to develop this promising business sector!
“In five or ten years, practically all the big players will be companies where artificial intelligence is at the heart of their business model,” states Jean-Sébastien Cournoyer, co-founder and partner of Real Ventures, an investment fund that specializes in technology. “We ask all startups we finance to think about the role AI will play in their business model.”
The investor can already imagine a world in which an algorithm would comb through social networks to provide information in real time that a customer on the phone would find most convincing. He can also see security systems able to detect fraud even before it happens. Most importantly, he sees an abundance of business opportunities that are just waiting for the right entrepreneur.
The term “artificial intelligence” is on everyone’s lips at the moment, so it would be easy to simply call it a fad. However this technology is already a big part of our lives today, notes Laurent Charlin, a professor at
The Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO) aims to not only increase knowledge in the AI sector, but to also contribute to the development of partnerships between the academic community and the private sector by facilitating exchanges and the sharing of knowledge.
HEC and a member of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, one of the leading international institutes for research in this sector. “Voice recognition on our phones is a good example. As is Google Translate, even if it still doesn’t exactly allow us to translate philosophical treatises.”
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The existence of these technologies is mainly due to deep learning, a branch of AI that has provided astounding results. The approach relies on algorithms that analyze enormous data sets in order to learn to recognize, over time, such things as faces within images or opportunities to invest in the stock market.
For his part, Laurent Charlin develops recommendation systems similar to those that suggest movies you might like on Netflix or books to add to your shopping cart on Amazon. The more these algorithms are refined, the more they are able to suggest shows that match your tastes and products that correspond to your needs.
Theoretically, any business that has large amounts of data collected about its clients, employees or processes could benefit from AI. However, taking advantage of this opportunity would still require the help of experts, which, in this domain, are still hard to find.
“The explosion of possibilities in AI has started a race to secure talent,” explains Jean-François Gagné, a serial entrepreneur who already launched his first business in this sector in 2001. “World leaders such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft are engaged in a pitched battle to acquire technologies and the best researchers, leaving few opportunities for other players.”
To make the technology more accessible, Jean-François launched Element AI, a company that helps startups as well as big organizations to use artificial intelligence. “We work with all the major Canadian research centres in order to offer the best expertise.” All clients need to do is provide the data to be analyzed. But first they need the data.
Access to big data sets is currently limiting the ability of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to take advantage of AI. “It will come,” assures Jean-François. “The more the technology progresses, the less data it will need—that’s when SMEs will benefit.”
The entrepreneur advises all companies, even small ones, to keep this technology in mind. “Because of AI, the big players that couldn’t be bothered with niche markets could suddenly have the means to exploit them for little cost, and the SMEs in those markets may have difficulty surviving. We’ve seen it with Facebook and Google in advertising.”
Visit the Element AI website