How business can implement Artificial Intelligence cheaply

Artificial Intelligence is one of the hottest business topics of 2017.

For the boards and management of New Zealand business the thought of utilising AI within today's businesses feels like it's out of our reach. The investment and resources required must be colossal, right?


Microsoft, Amazon, and Google's cloud computing platforms have opened up cheap access to a myriad of AI services that your company can simply plug into websites and applications and use immediately. And the range of services is growing fast.

While Amazon Web Services stole the march on Microsoft and Google by about 5 years in corporate cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Azure has caught up a lot and now has a comprehensive range of packaged AI services available as well.

They have all been investing billions in R&D so that our businesses can tap into AI services for cents in the dollar. Why? Because the growth is going to be explosive and worth hundreds of billions within the next few years. PWC predict the impact of AI to be an increase of 10.4% of GDP in developed Asia by 2030 and 26.1% of GDP for China.

In NZ we appear to have a competitive cost advantage in trying AI out with our audiences being much smaller than US and European companies. This means we can deliver our customers AI supported services for significantly less operating cost than our global competitors.

So what AI services can we tap into?

From Google

Google probably have the best intelligent language translation technology after doing it for many years. It's now amazingly accurate as it has "learned" over the course of years from user interaction and feedback. They've also invested heavily in live intelligent map routing. One implementation of this familiar to most of us is Google Maps smartphone app navigation. Fed with live traffic tracking, Aucklanders will have noticed those orange and red sections of roads where traffic has slowed or an accident has occurred. Automatic suggestions of faster routes pop up as it continually assesses whether you're on the fastest route. Transport, courier and taxi companies can plug into the Google Maps API to utilise in their own applications. Uber users will have seen this first hand.

From Microsoft

Speech - understanding and converting speech to text; taking text content and speaking it.
Language - live translation from one language to another. Spoken and written.
Vision - recognise faces, emotions and make smart insights from images of people.
Knowledge - map complex information and data to solve tasks such as intelligent recommendations.

From Amazon

Amazon Lex - your own version of Alexia (iPhone users would be familiar with Siri). How smart is that! Amazon Polly turns text to speech and Rekognition analyses images.

These are just a beginning and to get a leap on our competitors, shouldn't we be thinking of the impact of AI on our industry and how we can use what's there now to keep competitive.

Air New Zealand

They've built Oscar, their artificial intelligence backed website chatbot. It's early days for Oscar and pretty rudimentary right now, but I can see when you'll be able to say "I want to book a flight from Auckland to Christchurch on 15th September returning on the 19th for 2 people" and Oscar will politely reply and provide you with a link to the pre-completed booking with the travel, dates, number of people selected all ready for you to decide on time of day and fare types. Oscar does this now by asking you lots of questions. And in future maybe you'll talk to Oscar to make it faster and more accessible from your smartphone.

So, how fast do you think NZ companies will put some of these services into action and who has already? Please let us know by leaving a comment.