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03 Jan 2019

4 Artificial Intelligence trends to watch out for in 2019

Jacques van Wyk Chief Executive Officer at Ricoh SA
Business Process Services

Ricoh South Africa, Johannesburg, 03 January 2019 – Happy New Year from everyone here at Ricoh! As another calendar year begins, lets take a look at one area of technology which was very much in vogue for 2018: Artificial Intelligence (AI).

It’s a term which was first coined way back in 1955. However, it’s only in recent years that businesses have started to realise the full potential of AI, and what it could mean for them today and beyond.

As said in previous blogs, we’re on the brink of an exciting new era for AI, and expect we’ll see many more businesses taking their first steps in 2019.

As AI increasingly moves from the laboratory into workplaces, Edward Gower-Isaac, Vice President, Business Process & Application Services, Ricoh Europe – shares four things to watch out for in the next 12 months:

1) Growth in enterprise adoption of AI – with businesses making small steps
According to a survey from PWC, 20% of enterprises said their organisations plan to implement AI enterprise-wide in 2019. On top of this, 15% said they plan to deploy in multiple areas, with a further 16% planning pilot schemes. There’s clearly appetite to exploit this technology – but suspect this will be done in small steps, rather than in one huge push for a lofty goal.

2) Robotic process automation (RPA) will continue to be the most common deployment of AI
RPA represents the “low hanging fruit” in the field of AI applications. For many organisations looking to reap the benefits, this will be considered as a first foray. Businesses should consider processes within their organisation which are document and time-intensive if they want to see the biggest impact.

3) AI-infused voice technologies start to enter the workplace
The increasing presence in our homes of voice-controlled smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home means their arrival in our workplaces is only a matter of time. Vendors will design new interfaces for our interaction with technology – beyond keyboards and screens. As the use of voice control becomes normalised, businesses will look to see how it can yield productivity gains. The idea of using voice control to search and take action on documents within a system, is convenient and efficient. However, that means we will have to learn to manage with increased noise in the office.

4) Enterprises outside the technology sector set-up their own machine learning labs
In agreement with the prediction made by analysts at CCS Insight who envisage big companies setting up their own internal laboratories on machine learning. The job title “Head of Artificial Intelligence” is a niche role, for now. But big businesses will increasingly see the benefits of collaborating with developers and academia. New specialist roles such as this will be an important step in that development.

Are there any other trends you’re looking at for next year? Let us know in the comments section below. We also recommend checking out this 2018 recap from Ricoh Europe CEO David Mills.

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