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A CIO has always been busy running the IT and computer systems that support an enterprise. Now with artiificial intelligence (AI) turning every company into a data company, a CIO’s job is more central and more complicated than ever before.
A recent Gartner survey found that some of the world’s biggest companies plan to double the number of AI projects within the next year, with four AI efforts already in place on average. Additionally, companies plan to spend more on AI, in the neighborhood of $77 billion in 2022, up more than 3x from the $24 billion spent in 2018, according to IDC.
These AI-centered projects range from automating tasks, improving existing operations, and finding new insights. And it is now the CIO's job to find smart ways of integrating AI into existing systems, identifying what datasets they have that might be useful, and what problems a company has that AI can tackle.
Here are five companies that are leading the way across different industries by putting AI to work for them and their customers.
Easing Travel: Singapore’s Changi Airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport has won over 600 awards, most of which highlight amenities like the butterfly garden, the indoor waterfall, and free massage chairs scattered across the terminals. It’s also a busy airport, where passenger traffic has gone from 37 million in 2009 to 66 million in 2018. A flight takes off about every 80 seconds, making it the 19th busiest airport in the world.
To keep travelers happy and terminals humming along, the Changi Airport Group, the airport’s operator, is investing in a program called SMART Airport Vision—an approach that uses sensors, data analytics, and AI to make the airport experience more seamless for travelers. SMART Airport Vision launched in 2017 and is already making the airport a data-driven enterprise with numerous deployments in place.
Computer vision-powered cameras are a major part of the effort. These cameras are located all around the airport to identify whether an abandoned piece of luggage is a threat, or if its owner simply stepped away for a moment, and notifying the correct team about it. Computer vision is also inspecting runways for foreign objects, like gloves or keys dropped by baggage handlers, that cause damage to a plane or the runway. One of the terminals is testing out facial recognition systems that let passengers check-in, drop off their bags, get through immigration, and even track down people running late for flights.
Besides cameras, there is an algorithm using historical data and current information like weather to predict arrival times for long-haul flights with nearly a 95% accuracy. These planes have the largest amount of passengers and luggage, and AI helps the airport deploy workers more efficiently and be prepared for an inflow of exiting passengers.
The AI projects don’t stop at the airport doors. Changi Airport Group has customer service chatbots to answer basic questions. Not only does it cut down on wait time for users, but their questions provide insight into the market demand for new services or product offerings.
Even with all the new tools, Changi Airport Group’s CIO Steve Lee said technology alone is not enough to deliver the world-class levels of service they are known for. “Humans need to work symbiotically with AI-enabled technologies and machines to deliver the best outcome, and this supersedes what could otherwise be provided with only technology or only people,” Lee told CMO.com.
Faster Finances: AppZen
Large enterpises might have 80,000 invoices or more per month, making it difficult to audit all payments. Even smaller companies with 100 employees might get 1,500 monthly invoices, which could be overwhelming for a small team. Machines, however, are apt at this sort of close reading and can spot problems that even the most diligent auditor sometimes misses.
Fintech startup AppZen uses AI to automate auditing in real-time, getting employee expenses paid back faster as well as catching fraud before any money is exchanged. Since launching in 2016, AppZen has signed up more than 1,000 enterprises for its services.
By going over everything with multiple AI tools, finance teams can let AppZen take care of the day-to-day invoicing and automate easy payments while freeing up a company to look closer at a much smaller, high-risk list of potentially problematic spending. That might be duplicate invoices, fraudulent documents, or even payments that can have legal ramifications, as some regions have specific rules around record-keeping when doing business with foreign officials.
AppZen can protect companies from losing money to fraudulent invoices, including when a third-party sends a false invoice to an organization or business for services or products that were never ordered or delivered. According to the FBI, scammers have attempted to steal more than $12 billion globally between October 2013 and May 2018 using false invoices. These invoices get through because they look totally legitimate and are often for small amounts that don’t cause alarm.
“Humans cannot always tell the difference," said Jamie Barnett, the CMO of AppZen. “But AI that is doing multiple models may be able to pick something up and flag it at as high-risk.”
AppZen can also improve adherence to internal regulatory compliance rules. Using AppZen, companies have found employees expensing things like spa trips at a hotel and more. For some businesses, this might be an appropriate purchases, but others would want to know about it.
“We aren't the judges,” Barnett said. “We are here to help companies match their policies.”
Spotting Fashion Fakes: Entrupy
Counterfeit goods are a half-trillion-dollar business today. It diminishes a brand’s carefully crafted reputation, hurts sales, and forces companies to spend time and funds on fighting back. Entrupy is a startup using AI to detect counterfeit luxury items and get them removed from the supply chain faster.
To catch the fakes, Entrupy uses a setup that can look at a diverse range of materials from leather handbags to fragrances. It's non-intrusive (and more importantly, non-damaging), using a microscopic camera attached to a smartphone to take a photo showing the “DNA” of the items. Then, an AI algorithm that has been trained on a dataset of authentic items that go back 80 years, makes an assessment about whether the item is genuine or not.
“Every single thing in this universe has its own fingerprint,” said Entrupy’s CEO, Vidyuth Srinivasan.
Since the technology is viewing pieces at a microscopic level, it would be nearly impossible for a counterfeiter to replicate material closely enough to fool the system. Srinivasan said that Entrupy has never produced a single false positive, or calling an item counterfeit when it isn’t. He adds that there has only been a handful of false negatives, or missing a fake, due to user errors, like misusing the tool.
Entrupy works with large-scale luxury retailers at the supply chain level to combat return fraud, like when someone tries to switch out an expensive luxury item for a counterfeit copy. The technology can tell if an item has been washed by the customer, suggesting that it is not being returned unused. Entrupy is also working with government agencies, including Dubai Economy's intellectual property department, to try to deter at the customs level before the items even make it into the marketplace.
Building Your Next Blockbuster: Cinelytic
Making a movie is considered an art form. But what if it's also a data problem? Cinelytic is a Los Angeles-based startup taking historical data about movie performances and putting it into machine learning to find out what sort of movie themes and potential stars could be combined to make the next blockbusters.
“On a film set now, it’s robots, it’s drones, it’s super high-tech, but the business side hasn’t evolved in 20 years,” Cinelytic co-founder and CEO Tobias Queisser told The Verge.
With Cinelytic, moviemakers can consult data at every stage, from green-lighting a project to setting a budget to where to release it. An especially important tool forecasts how well a movie will do. Cinelytic looks at 15 attributes that they have found drive a film’s performance, such as casting, whether the story is based on a book or a franchise, release size, and the rating. Having this data lets directors and producers plan the rollout and/or adjust budgets. If a casting director is considering multiple actors for one role, the software can look at what a star’s impact will have in different regions, with media attention, at the box office vs. streaming, and across genres.
Better Patient Care: Nuance
Modern doctors have a lot of work beyond taking care of people. According to one study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, for every hour of face-to-face patient time, doctors spend another two hours on desk work, with data entry being the most time-consuming activity.
Doctors try to get some of that digital recording done while seeing the patient, putting a barrier between a person and her healthcare provider. It might save time, but studies show that clinician’s gaze significantly affects how well an appointment is perceived by the patient. Nuance is a company using AI for its suite of software to try to reduce notetaking time, make patient data more accessible to clinicians, and maybe even improve the doctor office visit.
The company’s recently released Ambient Clinical Intelligence (ACI), is a tool with a hardware component that includes 16 microphones that get affixed around the room to record what both the patient and doctor said during an office visit, and transcribes it, removing the need for data entry in the room. ACI also uses voice biometrics for authentication, speaker identification, patient consent, and document signing.
Eventually, Nuance wants to add computer vision technology to spot and understand non-verbal cues like the number of sneezes that might be important for diagnosis and automatically gather data such as body measurements, which would cut down on more time spent behind a computer and also capture more information that a doctor would typically put in.
Besides catching important details and cutting down on paperwork, automating tasks might help prevent burnout for doctors, a condition that over 50% of doctors say they have experienced. Providing good patient care is the primary source of job satisfaction for 79% of physicians, according to The Physician Foundation. AI, surprisingly enough, could allow more time for the personal touch.
According to Michael Clark, senior vice president and general manager for provider solutions for Nuance’s Healthcare division, doctors are ready for the help that AI would offer. Nuance brought doctors into a room set up with ACI for 10-minute technology demonstration that had some physicians leaving the room in tears over the possibility.
“It’s a hard problem to solve,” Clark said. “But they are highly motivated, as we say, to turn the chair around.”