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Artificial intelligence (AI) for the real world

A new report in 'Harvard Business Review'

From answering everyday customer queries to finding medical cures and breakthrough treatments, cognitive technologies are helping to solve today's toughest business problems. Where—and how—are companies having the most success? In this 'Harvard Business Review' article, Tom Davenport and Rajeev Ronanki present their insights from Deloitte's study of 152 real-world cognitive projects and discuss how it's wiser to take incremental steps with the currently available technology while planning for transformational change in the not-too-distant future.

Cognitive technologies in action

The promise of AI and other cognitive technologies is enticing companies to take on aggressive new initiatives. So what's the secret to achieving the best results? Authors Davenport and Ronanki share how to apply cognitive technologies from robotics to deep learning in bold new ways, based on their study of 152 cognitive projects and the results of Deloitte's 2017 state of cognitive survey.

Taking an incremental approach—rather than a transformative approach—helps organizations avoid potential setbacks. In fact, "low-hanging fruit" projects that streamline business processes and augment, rather than replace, human capabilities are much more likely to be successful than the most highly ambitious projects. Here, you'll see how organizations are improving products and creating new ones, making better decisions, and freeing up workers to be more creative using cognitive technologies.

Cognitive is taking us to the next level as we modernize systems and redesign business processes.

—Tom Miller, CIO, Anthem​

Laying the foundation

​As companies begin to the test the waters and experiment with cognitive tools, they face significant obstacles in development and implementation. In this article, the authors outline how forward-thinking organizations can achieve their objectives by following a four-step process:

  1. Understanding the technologies: Learn what technologies can help you achieve desired results; investing in the right capabilities is critical to achieving successful outcomes.
  2. Creating a portfolio of projects: Evaluate your organization's needs and develop a portfolio of projects in areas that can benefit most from cognitive technologies.
  3. Launching pilots: Create pilot projects for cognitive applications before introducing throughout the enterprise.
  4. Scaling up: Facilitate collaboration between technology experts and business process owners to take cognitive to the next level.​

Download the article to find out more about laying the foundation for AI success and to learn from real-world examples.

Cognitive projects by type:

The study of 152 projects, fell into three categories:

  • Robotics and cognitive automation (71)
  • Cognitive insight (57)
  • Cognitive engagement (24)

Cognitive technologies survey

​What else can you learn from leaders who are excited about AI and cognitive technologies? Find out what's working and what's not in the 2017 Deloitte State of Cognitive Survey. You'll see where organizations are making the most significant investments and look into the business processes undergoing transformative change.​

Cognitive advantage: smarter insights, stronger outcomes

​Cognitive technologies allow organizations to reimagine how humans and machines work together, explore new possibilities, and overcome business challenges. Realizing value comes from a combination of complimentary initiatives: mastering technology, identifying the right data, bringing science to the business issue, and updating how work gets done. At Deloitte, we're helping our clients develop a "Cognitive Advantage" through a design thinking process that drives smarter insights and stronger outcomes.

With the right planning and development, cognitive technology could usher in a golden age of productivity, work satisfaction, and productivity.

—Tom Davenport, Independent Senior Advisor to Deloitte Analytics​

Meet the authors

Rajeev Ronanki
Principal | Deloitte Consulting LLP
Thomas H. Davenport
Independent senior advisor | Deloitte Analytics

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