On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of our publisher, the industry sourcing company DirectIndustry, we are celebrating 20 years of industrial innovations by giving the floor to the players that brought these innovations to life. In this interview, we focus on artificial intelligence in B2B with Stéphane Roder, CEO of consulting firm AI Builders.
20 Years of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE with… AI Builders
AI Builders is a consulting firm that helps customers implement AI strategy or integrate artificial intelligence into their digital transformation roadmap. They develop algorithms that increase processes and core businesses to improve performance.
DirectIndustry magazine: What is your definition of AI and when did it become an innovation?
Stéphane Roder: AI copies man’s reasoning and understanding of his environment. It has the ability to build a model from data and when we ask questions of the model it will give us answers. It really started in 2011 with Siri and then Google Brain in 2014. From then on, we were able to ask Google a question and it could answer. Researchers like Yann LeCun worked on the level of neural networks and image recognition and had their first results in 2012 with around 3% error rates. This is what humans do and that was a real boom. It became clear that we were close to the human brain.
DirectIndustry magazine: That’s a revolution!
Stéphane Roder: It is a real revolution. AI proved the ability to process unstructured data like images, voice and text. AI is able to understand the meaning of a sentence and that’s extraordinary. It can understand a contract, a judgment, a regulation, a call for tender, etc.
DirectIndustry magazine: What made this possible?
Stéphane Roder: This is possible today because we have computing power that we didn’t have before. We have been able to upgrade information systems, whereas for 30 years they were programmed. We are now integrating models into programs that allow them to learn, make predictions, recommendations and take action. This ability to model environments is what is revolutionary.
DirectIndustry magazine: How did AI impact B2B?
Stéphane Roder: It offers companies the ability to optimize production, increase productivity and improve the control of their work environment. It improves things on production lines. Computer vision is also very well developed and helps carry out better quality tests more quickly.
DirectIndustry magazine: Could you imagine this 20 years ago?
Stéphane Roder: AI refers to statistics and decision making. It’s been deployed for a very long time in trading. 20 years ago we only had a symbolic vision of that. For example, if there was A then there was B. I saw that there was potential with neural networks.
DirectIndustry magazine: So AI is the disruption of the last 20 years?
Stéphane Roder: You have to put that in the context of the evolution of the world of business. The 80s-90s saw the development of ERP information systems. From 2005-2015, there was a focus on the workflow. The years 2020-2030 are expected to focus on the optimization of company processes. We’re entering a commoditization phase where companies are becoming aware of their performance and are starting to deploy AI-based solutions.
I would not say AI is the disruption of the last 20 years since it only started recently. I think it is more a disruption for 2020-2030. The challenge of the next 3 years is to become aware of the contribution of AI. At the moment companies don’t know where to start with AI. AI serves their performance and productivity objectives. We can put AI everywhere. People and companies have not seen the whole potential of it. This is just the beginning.