Modern businesses are uncovering untapped opportunities by harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a more diverse and productive workforce. AI and 5G innovations have enhanced businesses, promising them a better future and more practical applications that can significantly improve efficiency. But not all businesses have realised the true potential of digital transformation and its profound impact on the current economy. This interview can create a new trajectory for such businesses and reassure companies why harnessing innovation is always the right choice.
In our conversation with Nicolas Babin, President at Babin Business Consulting, he talks about the common challenges that most businesses face when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Transformation, Automation and 5G. His opinions can help businesses in unlocking a plethora of new opportunities and can enable them to adopt innovative workflow models to remain competitive in the current digital era.
1. Was the surge in digital adoption only because of COVID-19? Do you think since the pandemic is under control, automation will slowly start losing its significance?
The surge in digital adoption happened quicker than anticipated due to COVID-19. However, the adoption had already begun even before the pandemic. COVID-19 only helped accelerate the trend because most people were forced to adopt new working methods during confinement. Today, we have reached a high adoption level, which will make it very difficult for companies to stop using technology and go back to pre-pandemic ways. However, I see that the speed of adoption is slowing down, but there is no going back.
2. In your experience, what do you think businesses find the most challenging while transitioning from traditional to modern digital solutions?
In my experience, the most challenging element is people. For any digital transformation project to be successful, it needs to be human-centred. Today with the hiring challenges and mindset of many employees, it is hard for companies to implement a digital transformation project. However, it is very important to understand that a digital transformation project is not only about technology but about transitioning from traditional to modern solutions. It is about moving from selling boxes to selling solutions. Change management needs to be implemented in all companies as a starting point. If a company decides to embark on a digital transformation journey, it needs to start by accompanying its employees with a clear vision and deliverables. All of the workforces need to understand how they will benefit from the transition as well as the impact on the company (more competitive, more efficient, more human).
3. In automation, what do you think businesses look for the most, and what do you think businesses aim to achieve with automation?
All processes can be automated today. Depending on the industry, all companies have different goals and objectives. A lead generation company will look into automating its marketing and sales tasks, whereas an e-commerce or retail company will look into automating its supply chain and logistics functions.
What is very clear, in my experience, is that every company wants to gain effectiveness and slow down the churn in the workforce. Therefore, they will automate more and more the mundane aspect of each job so that humans are augmented. This means that humans stay at the heart of the operations, and automation comes in to give the right information at the right time for the right people.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed us to medical and economic uncertainties that none could predict. What do you think about the role of AI should be in such a scenario?
Most companies today use Artificial Intelligence to help them plan and strategize. Most models did not predict COVID-19. However, Geo-Political instability was predicted. Artificial Intelligence feeds itself with data (historical and present data). To me, the role of Artificial Intelligence is all about how to augment human capabilities. This means that Artificial Intelligence can bring a large quantity of information to a level that the human brain is not capable of handling. Once this data has been processed and analyzed, the algorithm can restitute an understandable analysis by a human brain. Artificial Intelligence has been enriched by what we have just lived. It will help all algorithms to be more precise and more helpful in the future.
5. How can businesses take advantage of AI-enabled 5G? Why does it matter to their customers?
5G is a technology standard for broadband cellular networks. This means that it is a logical evolution from the 4G standard. It brings more broadband and less latency (amongst other benefits). Combining Artificial Intelligence on a 5G standard will mean that algorithms will work faster and with bigger data pipes. 5G was brought to the market with the Internet of Things (IoT) in mind. Today we have a very large number of objects connected more than ever before. The combination of AI and IoT is called AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things), and it is the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and the internet of things (IoT) infrastructure. Using Artificial Intelligence on a 5G network makes sense as customers require faster results. But this is not the main technological evolution. Cloud technologies also see a huge benefit from the rise of 5G. Indeed, 5G increases speed by up to ten times that of 4G, whereas mobile edge computing reduces latency by bringing compute capabilities into the network closer to the end user. The main beneficiary will be customers as all these technologies have come to market and are now standard. All the pieces of the technology puzzle are coming together for the benefit of users.
6. There is always an uncertainty in the predictions/outputs of Artificial intelligence. So, what do you think about the risk of such uncertainty when using AI in the medical field?
Today the field that benefits the most from the use of Artificial Intelligence is the health sector. Artificial Intelligence algorithms help doctors to manage a much broader and larger amount of data (information). A patient’s lifelong data is managed thanks to algorithms. All historical information will help guide and augment doctors. Today applications around diabetes, for example, are very precise and can predict accurately when a hypoglycemia event could occur. In radiology, we also see an increase in efficiency as Artificial Intelligence algorithms can analyze X-rays, MRI and scanners much faster and with all patient info on file. The more these algorithms are used, the better they become. The more data you feed them, the more precise their analysis becomes. It is true that you can experience some uncertainties with Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms, but the ratio of risk/benefit is definitely worth the use of new technologies to ensure a better future.
7. In your book, The talking dog, you have wonderfully covered the journey of Disruptive Technologies. You have mentioned that some innovations we previously failed to accept have laid the foundation for future successful versions (such as GPS from Sony). What are such current innovations that have not been realised but have great potential in the future?
Thank you for your nice comment. I am amazed by the book’s success and its translation into four languages (English, French, German, and Portuguese).
The first innovation that comes to mind today is the Metaverse. The use of various realities programs to experience a Phygital world (mix of physical and digital). We see today many large companies such as Meta (example: Facebook), Microsoft, Nike, Carrefour, some banks, insurance companies and many others investing large amounts of money in the Metaverse. However, this is not new. Back in 2000, we had ‘Second Life’, an online multimedia platform which did not succeed because mindsets and technologies were not ready. Second life, however, has laid the foundation for the Metaverse. Today we are ready for more disruption, and technologies allow us to optimize our virtual experience. Looking at the Metaverse vision and means, I strongly believe it has great potential for the near future.
Nicolas Babin is a Digital Transformation Expert and a Key Opinion Leader on technology. He is also the author of the award-winning book “The Talking Dog – Immersion in new technologies. With over 30 years of international, multilingual and multicultural experience, he is one of the top experts in the fields of AI, robotics, gamification, leadership, and innovation. He is also a sought-after international keynote speaker on innovation, e-health, digital and robotics. Nicolas is currently the head of Babin Business Consulting.