Lights and Technology
30 November 2022

Change of Mentality Needed

Artificial Intelligence is a Process, not a Project

Por João Martins, Data Analytics & AI Manager

Exame Informática (E.I.): Artificial Intelligence is inseparable from digital transformation today. To what extent?

João Martins (J.M.): The subject of Artificial Intelligence is so vast that it is intertwined with digital transformation itself. And we see it in our daily life: you no longer buy a watch, but a SmartWatch, just as nobody uses the expression "buy a mobile phone" anymore but a Smartphone. Making a quick transposition to the business context, we have something Smart in every sector. Whether in the financial industry in the business component (Risk and/or Fraud) or customer service via chatbots. In utilities, the term smart meter started to be used by everyone. In the industrial area, we follow the transition to "Industry 4.0", where the big difference is the beginning of using Digital Twins or implementing Six Sigma programs. In telcos, the whole network optimization component, among other examples, we can give. In retail, using advanced forecast models improves the performance of the entire supply chain. And what do all these examples have in common? The use of A.I. processes to support the business. More than a digital transformation through artificial intelligence projects, we are witnessing the transformation of business decisions that now have "intelligent" support.

E.I.: By 2021, less than 10% of companies that have introduced A.I. in their business will be able to take advantage of the technology. What are the challenges for using A.I. in processes and strategies?

J.M.: Mentality. The big challenge is to be able to demonstrate that A.I. is not a "nice to have" but is starting to be a "must have". And getting the message across that it is not an I.T. or business issue but rather an issue that cuts across the entire organization. But in this change of mentality, companies (software vendors, integrators, implementers, etc.) have a crucial role: to convey the message that when we talk about A.I., we talk about process and roadmap, not isolated solutions. As in all moments of paradigm change in a structural way, it is necessary to think in the medium term. Artificial Intelligence is a process, not a project.

E.I.: What opportunities can this technology bring to organizations?

J.M.: We can perceive what the analytical and A.I. world brings to an organization from several angles. I would divide it into tangible and intangible benefits, short/medium and long term. Tangible benefits are easier to justify and measure, such as increased productivity, reduced downtime, better assertiveness in forecasting, shorter waiting time in response to an online support service, etc. But that is not the core. The core is in this technology's intangible benefits to the organization. Starting at the base, in I.T. With an A.I. project, you can see if there are silos of information and the ability to improve and optimize data collection. If we enter the field of IoT and real-time, this theme will grow exponentially. An A.I. project is born in the world of data. For the business to decide with an analytical basis, it differs from determining only based on experience or the numbers of a particular report that only gives us the descriptive view. The analytical world has to be integrated and serves to support business decisions. It does not replace them. And this is a clear advantage for decision-making. It reinforces or becomes a reason to implement improvement processes in decision-making. For software vendors, there is a need to adapt to the client, not the other way around. For integrators, it opens a window of opportunity to get to know their clients' business better and create synergies between I.T. and business. Finally, more than a business opportunity, it is an opportunity to change mentalities. The world of A.I. is no longer something new and has become a commodity.

E.I.: Currently, and after the impulse that the pandemic gave to digital transformation in companies, what is state of the art in Portugal?

J.M.: Portugal is a curious country. And curious why? Because we are afraid to take risks.

But we are also a country full of curiosity. And the pandemic has opened a "window on the world", so we started to be flooded with webinars, remote conferencing, and more sharing momentum between organizations. And our curiosity in certain areas catalyzed the start of new projects. "Seeing is believing" is a Portuguese expression, more than applicable to this moment of digital transformation. We began to look more outwards and to understand that this digital transformation train must be caught now. On the other hand, we can adapt very quickly. From one moment to the next, we can adapt to the reality of the online world. And if we join these two characteristics, curiosity and adaptability, we can quickly understand where we are and where we are going.

In short, right now, digital transformation has become a reality. There is no point in return

because we've quickly been exposed to the best that's done in this area. And it's no longer something that's only within reach of large organizations because small to medium/medium-sized organizations have realized that their peers are advancing.

E.I.: What are the most advanced sectors at this level in Portugal?

J.M.: Dividing into three different stages: advanced, ongoing, and potential I believe that, at the moment, financial services - banking and insurance - are at a very high level of maturity, as well as utilities, oil & gas. We are pioneers in what we do in these areas. We are good. Good. What do we need to improve? Our marketing. We have other equally advanced areas like pharma, retail, and telcos. In the pharmaceutical industry, there is already talk of "Pharma 4.0". That is, having the support of AI for the whole process. The entire supply chain issue is already a reality in retail, either through IoT or in the  route optimization process. In telcos, with the start of 5G countless decisions are made with the support of AI. Interestingly, where there is the most room for growth in the industry area. We have a strong drive, capable, where we are beginning to see a change in mentalities of mentalities and even examples where companies where companies are starting to have their chief innovation officer with the power of decision, vision, and with the capacity to realize that if you improve your Overal Equipment Efficiency (OEE). In practice, availability, capacity, and quality, in any of the vectors, with analytical support, it will be possible to understand why it does not produce with x% of quality or has the machines y% of time.

E.I.: What support can Noesis give to organizations in their digital transformation process through AI?

J.M.: Noesis can support an organization in an evolutionary stage in what AI processes are. And here, it's inseparable from the subject of data. An AI project can only be successful with a consolidated data architecture. E our area inside Noesis was "born" in the world of data. We follow buzzwords like Big Data, Data Lake, Cloud, etc. We have proven experience in the basis of the whole process. In the AI component, we have something that we consider differentiating: we don't see an "AI project". We see an "AI process". And in this process, we have experience in the various sectors and in the multiple challenges that are thrown at us. From retail, energy, financial area, and industry. And more than this consolidated experience, we are committed to working with the client. We, Noesis, bring the ability to implement projects that can be integrated into the client’s ecosystem and support the client in making business decisions.

And for those challenges, we count on a capable team, prepared and, above all, willing to be challenged, to create solutions, implement them, and monitor their growth within the client

Published (in Portuguese) in Exame Informática