Why the 3 As of Applied Intelligence are the keys to your digital transformation

More than ever, your ability to compete depends on your added value. To unlock it, you’ll need insights into your business and customers. But you’ll also need to act on them. Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation will help you do precisely that. They are key to digital transformation.

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There are two types of businesses: those that start out digital and those that become digital. For companies like Amazon, Uber, and Spotify, the digital world is their home base. It always has been. That’s where they came up, where they first started adding value. Their whole DNA is digital, down to the core. Competing in an online world comes naturally to them because it’s what they have always done.

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But for companies without these digital beginnings, the story can be quite different. After all, digital transformation isn’t easy. Making the transition from bricks to clicks means changing the way you work in fundamental ways. For some businesses, the main issue is figuring out and anticipating what their customers really want. Others might find themselves looking for better ways to interact with their target audience.  But ultimately, they must all answer the same question:

How will you add value for tomorrow’s customers?

Facilitating the search for the answers your business needs

While today’s companies might have a dazzling array of solutions and resources at their disposal, they also face an impressively diverse range of challenges. Consumer expectations have become liquid, meaning you now need to compete on the experiential level or risk being disrupted. Meanwhile, technology is evolving so fast that it seems almost impossible to keep up – and yet that’s exactly what the market expects you to do. In a sense, businesses are literally competing with imagination itself.

To add value in an environment where consumer needs and expectations shift like the winds and the boundaries of technology are constantly being pushed back, you will need to make the right decisions faster than ever. You’ll need to know exactly who your customers are and what’s important to them. You’ll need to know what they want (almost) before they tell you. And you’ll need to be able to deliver it (almost) before they ask. After all, your window of opportunity to delight them is growing ever shorter.

What Applied Intelligence means for digital transformation - Window of opportunity - by Accenture

What is Applied Intelligence and how will it help you?

In a nutshell, Applied Intelligence is a smarter, faster and more effective approach to collecting, processing and analyzing data, creating insights which help identify clear opportunities to act on, and automating those actions where possible to unlock business value. It is made up of three interwoven solutions: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation.

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Together, they form the three As of Applied Intelligence, helping businesses find novel ways to delight customers by using intelligent technology to amplify human ingenuity. All three solutions aim to add value in a meaningful sense and intrinsically connected, sharing data as a common denominator. As a result, they work best when built on a common foundation and approach.

1. Analytics

Data has the potential to tell you everything you need to know about the world around you and inform your decision-making process. At first glance, that seems to make it valuable. But by itself, data is just data. It’s raw material. It only becomes valuable once it has been carefully analyzed and interpreted. And that means the value of your data is determined by the strength of your analytics solutions.

The value of your data is determined by the strength of your analytics solutions.

To extract the value from your data and realize its full potential, you’ll need to invest in analytics first. You’ll need to take steps to safeguard data quality and make sure it's available in the right place at the right time. You’ll need talent to prepare the data for processing, correlate various streams of information and visualize the outcomes properly so that they can be shared effectively. And you’ll also need to enable your talent with user-centric analytics solutions and interfaces.

2. Artificial Intelligence

In recent years, artificial intelligence has made enormous strides. It powers a wide range of ubiquitous solutions, from smart speakers that can understand users’ speech to smartphones that can recognize users’ faces. And for all these stunning advances in computer vision, natural language processing, and deep learning, the application of these technologies is still very much in its infancy. Anybody can see that AI has massive potential and lots of room to grow. But what does that really mean for your business?

The key here is to understand exactly what artificial intelligence offers: it imbues machines with abilities that have traditionally been the domain of humans. This provides businesses with the best of both worlds. With a program that not only recognizes faces but interprets the emotions they display, a company might be able to more effectively pinpoint which interactions delight their customers.

For human workers, such a task would be unthinkable drudgery. Computers have no such issues. They never get tired, never lose focus and can perform calculations in the blink of an eye, enabling faster response times while freeing their human coworkers to pursue other challenges. In addition, AI doesn’t have to perpetuate human biases – especially when it has been designed to be responsible and fair.

3. Automation

Advanced analytics provides the high-quality insights you need to understand your business, your market, and your customers. Modern artificial intelligence solutions can then make business decisions autonomously based on those insights. But deciding to move a mountain because you know why it should be moved is only part of the equation. In the end, you’ll still need the right lever to move it.

Automation provides that lever. It’s the place where the proverbial rubber meets the road, where insights and decisions are transformed into actions. In a sense, automation is what puts the ‘applied’ in Applied Intelligence. It completes the trinity by providing the means necessary to automate key aspects of your core business, thereby turning theoretical value into real value.

This is a fundamental part of what makes Applied Intelligence work. Analytics and Artificial Intelligence will help differentiate between tasks that are better suited to human talent and tasks that are better suited to machines, but only automation will ensure that the latter is actually carried out.

Creating the right conditions for digital transformation

The simple truth that drives digital transformation is that tomorrow is always just around the corner. It’ll come regardless of whether you’re ready for it, but fortune favors the well-prepared. As such, the only viable way forward is to adapt.

Put the combined power of Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation at your disposal.

Integrating Applied Intelligence into your business will help create the right conditions for your digital transformation, putting the combined power of Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation at your disposal. But if you want to reap those rewards, there are a few things you’ll have to consider.

Take a focused approach instead of trying to boil the ocean

In the end, your ability to implement Applied Intelligence is a matter of data. You will need to get your data to the right place at the right time while also making sure it’s available in the right formats with the right connections. This requires a lot of preparation. If you try to take a bottom-up approach, you can get stuck in an endless ocean of data. But if you focus your efforts on the application you need at that point in time, you’ll be able to handle the challenges the implementation process throws at you.

And rest assured, there will be challenges. Applied Intelligence is both hyped and underestimated. While many organizations pursue its benefits, few manage to reach a mature state of implementation. It’s not just a matter of running an experiment, after all – to scale up the benefits of a successful test to your entire business, you’ll need more than just technology. Done right, Applied Intelligence will require a transformation of your IT infrastructure and your business processes in and of itself. Without a focused approach, it’s easy to get lost in the woods.

What Applied Intelligence means for digital transformation - Man lost in the woods - by Accenture

Attract the talent you need by providing the experience they crave

Another vital ingredient in Applied Intelligence is talent. In order to make it work, you will need skilled specialists: data engineers and scientists, Applied Intelligence translators and inspired visualization experts. And when it comes to these professionals, you certainly won’t be the only one hiring.

In order to not only attract the talent you need but keep them with you, you’ll need to provide them with an experience they value. That means providing an environment that fosters innovation and continuous learning, as well as projects that emphasize social value. Today’s talent wants to do good. They want to develop and expand their skills and crave a workplace that understands and actively facilitates this. Simply put: if you want to attract their attention and hold it, you’ll need to become the employer they dream of.

What Applied Intelligence means for digital transformation - Talent - by Accenture

Asking questions is the best way forward

When it comes to digital transformation, there’s nobody out there who has all the answers already. Every company that embarks on this journey breaks new ground, because no two businesses are alike. And that also holds true for Applied Intelligence itself. The key components are the same in every scenario: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation. But which scale, scope and specific ratio between them is best suited to your needs? That’s always determined by your individual situation, by the unique realities of your business.

The key components are the same in every scenario: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation.

The upside to this is that there’s no point in waiting. The digital revolution is happening right now, all around you. There’s no better time to get started than today. And don’t worry if you don’t know exactly where to go and what to do. After all, nobody gets a manual for the future. It’s one of those things you have to build for yourself. What matters most is that you start building.

After all, you won’t have to build that future alone. You won’t have to find your way there solo. When you don’t know the way, just ask us for directions. We’ll be there to guide your Applied Intelligence journey.

Laurence van der Sande - Applied Intelligence Lead - Accenture ProfileMartijn van der Meijden - Applied Intelligence Lead - Accenture Profile