Intelligent Automation: Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty
September 19, 2023 | London
Companies across industries are investing in automation and artificial intelligence projects that may increase efficiency, boost productivity, and help ensure their long-term success. Executives from business and IT gathered for this roundtable dinner to share their experience and ideas about how their firms can harness the power of artificial intelligence.
- Kristen Bennie, Innovation & Partnerships Director
- Ebru Binboga, Director, Data, AI & Automation, IBM UK
- Andy Chakraborty, Head of Technology Platforms, Santander UK
- Amy Challen, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence, Shell
- Tony Coleman, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Temenos
- Bruno Corasolla, Global Head of Digital Trains, Hitachi Rail
- Armand David, Corporate Affairs Director for Digital, BT Group
- Andres Gonzalez von Walter, Director, Data Strategy & Automation, Marsh McLennan Companies
- Alex Harvey, Chief of Advanced Technology, Ocado
- Greg Holmes, Area Vice President of Solutions, EMEA, Apptio
- Marc Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, T-Systems
- Kathleen Peters, Chief Innovation Officer, Experian
- Dr. Arun Thiyagarajan, Global Healthcare Transformation Director, Bupa
- Emmanuel Treny, Vice President for Automation, EMEA, IBM
- Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live Experiences
- Sarah Gross, Senior Director of Programming, Bloomberg Live Experiences
Sarah Gross, Senior Director of Programming, Bloomberg Live Experiences, opened the discussion with Emmanuel Treny, Vice President for Automation, EMEA IBM. He highlighted how AI was changing how companies run their financial operations (FINOPS) daily, especially their Cloud Computing environments. He said, ‘AI helps cost allocations in real-time, which helps manage Cloud Computing utilization and provides effective budget control.’ He stressed the value AI was delivering in helping to automate decision-making.
Andres Gonzalez von Walter, Director, Data Strategy & Automation, Marsh McLennan Companies, agreed with him. He highlighted how they were using all the main Cloud Service Providers in the business, each with different service definitions, costs, and overlaps. He said ‘it is difficult to see who was delivering the most value to the business’ but said he saw ‘how AI gives you a way to know where to spend your resources and how to spend your money’.
Alex Harvey, Chief of Advanced Technology, Ocado, saw AI as an opportunity to help design better Cloud-based applications. ‘Engineers can go wild in the Cloud, but AI enables you to create better applications with better business data that drive better outcomes’.
Tony Coleman, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Temenos, echoed this, saying ‘AI helps to deliver performance without compromise.’
Armand David, Corporate Affairs Director for Digital, BT Group, added that ‘the vision for AI-powered FINOPS is delivering dynamic load balancing, minute-by-minute, to provide better cost optimization’. He said that regulators were already engaged in discussions about the implications of this.
Marc Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, T-Systems, brought a practical perspective to the debate, stressing that ‘AI could give you the insight about what applications and processes to migrate between providers and when.’ He also noted the importance of the tools that support these processes and said they needed to be considered during a migration too.
He stressed how ‘AI could help enhance cost management, demand optimization, capacity maximization, and ultimately sustainability.’
Bruno Corasolla, Global Head of Digital Trains, Hitachi Rail, agreed and emphasized how ‘AI helps to align the workloads across the enterprise with the business model.’
Ebru Binboga, Director, Cloud & Data Platform, UKI, IBM, highlighted how AI ‘could help address multiple tensions in business, whether you are talking about energy consumption, cost management, sustainability, and all the other challenges.’ She posed the question: ‘How do we embed these processes in the business to address these issues? The solution will need to be holistic.’
Kathleen Peters, Chief Information Officer, Experian, stressed, ‘We have a duty to move quickly and to think carefully when addressing all these challenges.’
As the dinner progressed, Andy Chakraborty, Head of Technology Platforms, Santander UK, explored the practicalities of implementing AI in a business. While having valuable applications in areas like fraud detection or loan approvals, he felt you still had to think about the human aspect in AI-based projects. ‘People don’t always respond as an AI model expects.’ He stressed that ‘many see AI as a panacea. It’s not; it’s just another tool, like any other.’
Andres Gonzalez von Walter, Director, Data Strategy & Automation, Marsh McLennan Companies, thought there were three key issues facing companies looking to benefit from AI. ‘Priority one is to implement the obvious use cases at warp speed, whether for sales, engineering, operations, FINOPS, and so on.’ The next phase should cover ‘the transformational use cases, focusing on repetitive tasks like contract management or document and content creation, which take up much employee time but which could benefit from automation.’ The third priority was managing workforce transition, posing the question, ‘How do we – businesses and governments – best handle this?’
Bruno Corasolla, Global Head of Digital Trains, Hitachi Rail, added that the supply chain, as well as technology management, and employee management, was a key element of the AI transformation journey.
Alex Harvey, Chief of Advanced Technology, Ocado, stressed that one way for managers to navigate a path through all these challenges and opportunities was to ask themselves, ‘Am I being bold enough?’
As the dinner approached the close, Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live Experiences, suggested that AI was double-edged, and asked ‘so what worries [does] everyone have about AI?’.
Andy Chakraborty, Head of Technology Platforms, Santander UK highlighted his concern about ‘Adversarial AI,’ where threat actors developed systems to counter corporate systems and security models. He felt they were emerging but hadn’t fully matured.
Marc Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, T-Systems stressed how ‘AI learns from human knowledge and learning; it isn’t conscious.’ He stressed that AI was driving complexity but that it also helped to master complexity and he left the assembled guests to contemplate a final question, ‘What guardrails do we put in place to help drive AI but also prevent its misuse?’
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