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Machine Learning is the New Literacy for Business Enterprises and Leadership

With the definitional knowledge of AI, most professionals today can articulate the high-level benefits of these evolving technologies. However, as AI and ML are becoming key components of business strategies and service offerings, limited superficial understanding will not help.

Machine Learning is the New Literacy for Business Enterprises and Leadership

From on-premise to cloud, client-server to the web-based app, big data to analytics, the industry has experienced it all. But with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, the technological disruption has touched every domain. Though AI has been rejected by a few orthodox, feared by those insecure about losing their jobs, embraced by many who believe in its capability, it cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to thrive in the industry, such is its power. We often get entangled in the extravagance of artificial intelligence (AI), as the promise of this relatively nascent technology has been credited with influencing every corner of our life. In fact it’s mesmerizing to visualize AI at work, however, the technology is still at a nascent stage and needs a lot of hard work, leadership support as well as acceptance by masses to achieve the expected outcomes.

For more technical posts like this, you can follow me @Asamanyakm

Considering the aggregation of big data and the application of machine learning, a more immediate and perhaps deeper profound impact of AI can be gauged within the organization. Machine Learning (ML), a branch of the broader AI suite, is the area most likely to provide direct and tangible benefits to an organization for the predictable future. With the definitional knowledge of Adaptive Intelligence, commonly termed as Artificial Intelligence, most professionals today can articulate the high-level benefits of AI and ML. However, as these emerging technologies are becoming key components of business strategies and service offerings, limited superficial understanding will not take you anywhere.

At this point, it’s pertinent whether you understand the deeper promise and shortcomings of AI in your particular domain, more importantly, whether you are able to separate the promise from the reality. To have this understanding, you may require a more practical working knowledge of how to use (and perhaps even write code) machine learning technologies. This is going to have the greatest impact on business and leadership success.

Earlier coding was the most in-thing and budding leaders were expected to have a flair for programming. But now with niche technologies like AI, we are rapidly moving beyond the time where simple functional coding could be sufficient to enable the next generation of business capabilities. We got to accept Machine Learning as our new Literacy to define and shape the way we do business. Perhaps ML will have an impact on industries much more in-depth than the internet revolution had.

If you are part of the leadership team of an organization in this new era of disruptive digital revolution, it’s critical that you educate yourself in the language that will matter most, and for this reason, a functional working knowledge of machine learning should be considered a must-have skill for those who really want to be successful. Google released a new AI (Artificial Intelligence) tool named Cloud AutoML, a product that empowers enterprises having limited ML (Machine Learning) expertise to harness Artificial Intelligence and develop high quality, custom AI models to improve their own products and services. You can find more details on it in one of my earlier posts. The study of machine learning is astoundingly exciting and intellectually stimulating, but it proves invaluable to achieving a deeper understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the field, both in generic terms and for your line of business.

From the initial phase of the technological revolution, business enterprises have been able to grow and thrive while keeping management as well as leadership functions quite distinguished from IT departments. A basic knowledge among executive leaders was considered more than sufficient for helping to oversee technical innovation, growth and business expansion.

If you analyze closely, you would notice that digital transformation has disrupted business in yet another way. Now we strongly believe that leadership must be deeply connected to technology and innovation in order to progress and succeed in the market. It is no longer possible for the leadership and management teams to remain aloof from the nitty gritties of emerging technologies. For this simple reason, leaders should give significant value and encourage professionals to cultivate a hands-on knowledge of machine learning tools.

If you are techno-savvy and want to be at least at par, if not ahead of times, you can make the best of all the inexpensive and even free computing resources with just a little effort, discipline and passion. It's true, the massive amounts of publicly available data and, most importantly, the availability of extremely powerful, free and open-source machine learning tools, and powerful libraries that abstract away the complex underlying mathematics make it feasible for almost anyone to play around with machine learning itself.

Since last few months, I have personally delved into the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning, starting with simpler implementations and of late even the fascinating world of deep learning and neural networks captivated my interest. While I’m certainly not building something that will find its way into production, this work of passion certainly helps me to understand the intricacies and power of the technology. It enables me to converse at a much deeper level with developers, data scientists and cyber researchers who are building machine learning models and tools, making my management decisions better informed. It gives me the ability to better assess the reality behind competitor and partner claims about their technologies and capabilities. Knowing the right questions to ask, based on experience, is a powerful tool for any leader or decision maker that separates hype from reality.

There is an immense opportunity in the exponential technologies which hold so much of potential for tomorrow. We need to train a new breed of thought leaders, the decision-makers who have the skills to make teams working on the latest evolving technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, successful in a true sense. The technologists today can also develop machine learning skills which would be additional feathers on their own caps of leadership capabilities. It will help them to provide invaluable direction for the organizations they are serving and position them to lead under the new spell of digital disruption.

If you are still in a fix whether to take the ultimate plunge, I can assure, you will enjoy every bit of the learning curve and have the benefit of time in years to come.

You can connect with me @Asamanyakm

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