AI, analytics not the fiefdom of a few businesses (Book Review)

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Title: AI and Analytics: Accelerating Business Decisions; Author: Sameer Dhanrajani; Publisher: Wiley; Pages: 372; Price: 599

Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — concepts that seemed to be lofty ideals not so long ago — have suddenly started sounding all too familiar thanks to their widespread use by some of the world’s biggest internet companies. But these technologies won’t remain a fiefdom of a few. Nor should they, argues a powerful new book.

On the face of it, only a few tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon seem to be ready to maximise the adoption of analytics and AI and reap their benefits.

For example, anyone using Gmail would know how Google has used analytics to sort emails in different categories to help its users get to the important messages fast. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google’s Assistant that can now perform a wide variety of tasks using AI – from setting up alarms to playing songs — hardly need any introduction.

But Sameer Dhanrajani, in his book “AI and Analytics: Accelerating Business Decisions”, argues that not many companies — especially those that are neither in the e-commerce business, nor strictly tech companies — have been successful in adopting these technologies.

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In other words, only a few companies have been able to make use of these technologies to give their organisations a sustainable competitive advantage over their competitors. And this is despite the fact that most companies now realise that adopting analytics and AI is a must to stay afloat in the future.

Dhanrajani, who has a rich experience of building AI and Analytics businesses for a number of organisations, including Cognizant Technology Solutions, knows that these companies need guidance, and most of all encouragement, in utilising the data stored in silos of their organisations through analytics and AI.

Dhanrajani has been helping these businesses approach the problem with practical insights for quite some time now with his blogs and lectures at business conferences, and his latest book is also a step in the same direction.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part details what businesses, including start-ups with budget constraints, need to do to transform their businesses with AI and analytics.

Most importantly, Dhanrajani explains that lack of understanding of the meaning of analytics, a talent crunch, and a view that it is an expensive, esoteric subject may emerge as stumbling blocks in implementation of these technologies.

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He offers strategies to enterprises to overcome these hindrances while laying out a roadmap for them in implementing these technologies to make their organisations smarter by increasing operational efficiencies and improving customer relationship management, while reducing risks arising out of internal decisions and external threats.

For, Dhanrajani believes that analytics has the ability to combine data from numerous data sources in interesting ways and offer deep insights into the impact of business decisions.

What makes the book an interesting read is that the author’s recommendations are nicely punctuated with examples of specific initiatives that have helped some of the world’s well-known enterprises leverage these technologies.

The second part of the book provides details about the transformations brought about by AI and analytics for multiple industries – banking and insurance, healthcare and life sciences, retail and consumer packaged goods.

In this part, the author also devotes a separate section to the relevance of AI and analytics in autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT), chatbots, implementation of blockchain technology, and in beating cyberattacks.

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It is not without any reason that Dhanrajani wants to help all organisations embrace the AI and analytics. First, unlike many thinkers, Dhanrajani does not believe that AI would become an existential threat to humanity. According to him, humans and AI will co-exist in the future as humans will be sensitive enough to create contingencies to ensure that autonomous machines do not harm us.

He also believes that the world is on the verge of having a data-driven economy where AI and analytics would be the driving force of success for most organisations.

Reading this book may not guarantee successful implementation of AI and analytics in an organisation, but it may encourage many to take the right steps. And who knows, it may help some to say hello to the future with greater confidence.

The title and small fonts used in the text may give some readers the impression that reading this book would be one tough row to hoe. Far from it, the small chapters and the easy narrative make reading it a pleasant experience, and also quite enlightening.

(Gokul Bhagabati can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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