It goes without saying that these are exciting times for innovation in business. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic getting warmer by each and every breakthrough. And as time passes and technology develops, we’re seeing the emergence of AI courses (not requiring years of study), that are catering for complete beginners through to the advanced AI professional.
At Hyper Island, the AI Business Consultant program is launching later in the year. It’s an 80-week program (53 on campus, 27 on internship) in enabling students to effectively start and run processes and complete projects within AI.
To get a better insight into life working with AI—and becoming familiar with such accompanying areas as service design, business innovation, and digital technology—Hyper Island picked the brains of AI design firm, 33A’s cofounders, Mike Brandt and Jonas Wenke.
This is what the AI experts had to say about what to expect when working with AI in 2020.
What is an AI consultant?
With an increasing demand for AI-driven products and solutions, it is the job of the AI consultant to help companies to meet the substantial needs to create innovative algorithms and facilitate machine learning tools, which will aid design and the development of the AI integration. This should be carried out in the most efficient and optimized way.
Here’s how Mike sums up the role.
M: As an AI consultant, you have the opportunity to help improve the way companies work in a big way.
What is so unique/special about studying AI Business in 2020?
J: Traditionally, it takes businesses a generation to change. We’re in a situation where technology advances at a breath-taking speed. This means that a lot of businesses will be disrupted by competitors or new players who’ll embrace the potential of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. We face growing potential, but also dangers. AI is clearly the future and if you want to be in the driving seat and make sure that technology is applied in a good way, then the AI Business Consultant program might be your entry to this exciting world.
M: AI is the most transformative technology. Companies have still problems understanding how to apply it. And that’s not all. AI also has the potential to solve some of the world’s largest problems—and you can drive this.
What is a typical day like as an AI business consultant?
Something that will feature as part of your everyday life as an AI consultant is a design sprint. The big idea with the Design Sprint is to build and test a prototype in a short space of time. This time-constrained, typically five-phase process uses design thinking to minimize risks when introducing a new innovation to the market.
So, what’s a typical day look like for 33A cofounders, Mike and Jonas?
J: A typical day, in our case, is running the business. This involves reaching out to new and potential clients, building new partnerships, having meetings, iterating and developing new tools, and of course, preparing and running AI Design Sprints.
M: A lot of meetings with potential partners, organizations that sell AI solutions, but aren’t able to co-create with clients. Or business consultancies that are unsure of how to consult in a collaborative way with their clients around AI. Or it could be large organizations with companies as their members that want to help them with this new buzzword, “AI”, but don’t know how. It involves preparing our AI Design Sprint sessions and when it comes to process automation, we will, for example, map out the department’s processes. When specific processes are identified for automation, we sketch those processes as preparation for the concept development session.
What have you learned during your time as an AI consultant?
J: It’s not just about technology. For us, consulting companies in the field of AI is about identifying the right thing to do and involving all relevant stakeholders in the project. Our role involves taking the fear from the technology and enabling those without a deep technical understanding to take part in the process. We want them to bring their specific domain expertise and points of view. A lot of projects out there fail because the problem has not been clearly identified and the people who are supposed to use the solution have not been involved.
M: It’s more about people. We need to help the decision makers at C-level or on the board, as well as employees, to adopt AI confidently. We need to ensure diversity is present in the development process to provide companies with the best AI solution.
What are the challenges and rewards that come when working with AI?
J: New technology of course brings with it plenty of challenges. The first challenge is often to remove the fear of the technology and create an understanding of what AI really is, and how it can help your business. This is especially apparent since people usually get their information from the media, where the discussion is mainly around people losing their jobs, and ultimately AI taking over entirely.
M: The rewards come with the realization that you’re on the forefront—the cutting-edge of technology—and on the cusp of change in all areas of work and life. It’s thrilling! The challenge that comes with this is that AI technology is not that easy to understand, so it takes some efforts and nerdiness to understand it. The ultimate reward, however, comes from working with the people effected by AI: the employees that are augmented, the board and C-level staff that see their company in a new light, and the end customers that are served so much better.
How do you keep up with the continuous changes of AI in business?
J: That is a challenge. Developments are so rapid, and the field is so broad, that it is a challenge to keep up. We of course have a couple of sources we read to keep us up to date. And roughly every half a year, we gather the latest cases, get as much of a complete picture as possible on the state of AI and update our AI card deck.
M: Even though from the outside, the change within AI is tremendous, being inside, the change within the different areas of AI actually feels quite slow. So, the key is to get an overview of the different areas of AI and then stay updated in each area. And this is not that difficult as the progress in each area is not overwhelmingly fast. For example, when was there a big leap within computer vision? There are no big leaps, but rather tiny steps that are easy to know about.
What inspires you in your job role?
J: My role inspires me to be able to help people understand AI and its capabilities, to see how they become confident enough to handle the technology and play a valuable role in developing and using solutions. And of course, I enjoy it when people come up with interesting, unexpected, but nevertheless valuable solutions.
Are there any learnings from a professional point of view (as an AI consultant) that could be used in your personal life?
J: Collaboration is key. Don’t assume too much and always keep an open mind, since things may have already changed.
M: Being able to work in a team that I like and get on with is good for my personal life, as well. Also, I’m always developing the skill of communication. Recognizing that I need to get people from where they are can also be applied to my family life.
What advice would you give to a student looking to study the AI Business Consultant Program at Hyper Island?
J: It’s like most things in life: if the topic excites you, it’s probably the right thing to do for you.
M: Don’t see yourself as a consultant, especially not a consultant in the old-fashioned way. Instead, see yourself as a designer that designs solutions by involving and co-creating with people who have the domain knowledge. Moreover, see yourself as a facilitator in bringing together businesspeople and AI technical experts by designing a collaborative process.
Are you interested in translating and tailoring technology’s potential? Start or continue your AI journey with Hyper Island’s AI Business Consultant program. For more information or if you’d like to speak to one of our friendly team members, click here.