Volumes have been written in recent months on how AI is set to change everything, perhaps even by AI itself. This includes the consequences and the dilemmas that come with it. Interestingly, fear of the unknown often dominates these discussions. Sometimes, this fear is justified; other times, it’s unnecessary. In this article, I want to highlight an aspect that I believe is often overlooked, even though understanding it is necessary to properly assess developments. Specifically, the question of how the opportunities offered by AI can be practically realized, without neglecting concerns about ethics or privacy. And to make it even more specific, how it can be applied to businesses. Just like the rest of society, businesses also need to prepare for the arrival of AI. And not just for the threats, but also for the opportunities. Companies that don’t seize these opportunities will eventually be overtaken by competitors that do. In this article, I will share my vision on how and when businesses can best implement AI.

A Revolutionary Time

To answer the question of why we should discuss the possibilities of AI for businesses, we need to briefly consider current AI innovations. 

Until the end of last year, AI was making steady but somewhat unnoticed progress. Around 2012, however, Geoffrey Hinton of the University of Toronto and his colleagues discovered that large neural networks trained on vast amounts of data are surprisingly powerful. It was a turning point in the evolution of AI. From that moment on, the networks, like the data volumes they were trained on, rapidly increased, and the results became more impressive, especially in the area of image recognition.

Parallel to this trend ‘generative AI’ emerged, where a neural network generates things like images, text, sound, or video. While initially the quality was unusable, development was rapid and the quality is now so good that it generates content that is directly usable for many purposes.

In terms of language, the invention of the ‘transformer’ by a research team at Google in 2017 was crucial. Transformers are a type of computer program for understanding and generating human language. The most important reason for the current change of perspective is the introduction of Large Language Models (LLMs) at the end of 2022. And LLMs are based on transformers. At the time of writing, the most famous LLM is ChatGPT. It allows you to have conversations with a computer about almost all information that was available on the internet up to 2021. The size of the neural network and the amount of data it was trained with crossed a threshold, beyond which emergent properties appeared that show the first cautious signs of intelligence.

These developments could be described as the democratization of creativity and intelligence. It makes them easily accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be born with it or buy it. The media has widely discussed that this will have significant implications for many professions. Exactly how will be revealed over time, but in this article, we will discuss our ideas about what it will mean for businesses.

What Businesses Do

Before you can answer whether AI can help improve a business, you must clearly understand what a business does. The clearer this is, the better you can assess whether AI can optimize it.

A good understanding of a business’s domain is an important prerequisite for successful automation and thus also AI. You can only say something meaningful about the possibilities of automation when you know exactly what you are doing and what your goal is. Then it becomes clear whether AI can play a role. If you don’t do this, you often end up with incorrect and non-functioning solutions. The many examples of failed IT projects are, unfortunately, a poignant illustration of this.

What Businesses Want

Making money is not the only goal for businesses, but it is always a prerequisite for survival. This can be achieved in three ways: by working more efficiently, by producing more, or by devising a new product or service. Working more efficiently requires companies to identify where inefficiencies exist in their business processes. Increasing production is only possible when it doesn’t decrease efficiency. Developing and offering a new product requires companies to design and implement new business processes. In all three cases, it’s essential for companies to understand and manage their business processes.

Automation of (parts of) business processes can play a role in addressing inefficiencies, scaling up, and introducing new products.

Stekz has developed a unique method (BizDevOps) and tool (MyStekz) to map out the current and target situation in a structured way together with customers. The result is a clear overview of the domains, products, and processes, and their relationships.

From Wanting to Being Able

As mentioned, automation can play an important role in improving business processes. The major challenge is to determine what can be automated and how. Entrepreneurs are often quite capable of pointing out where the inefficiencies lie in their businesses or what new products or services they envision. However, they are often in the dark about what role automation can play. In their eyes, this is the domain of technicians, where a language is spoken that most entrepreneurs do not command. This gap between business and technology hinders the digital development of many companies.

For most companies, the need to bridge this gap is self-evident, as automation plays an increasingly important role in most businesses. However, the big question is how this gap can be bridged. How entrepreneurs’ desires can be converted into processes and software that automate (parts of) these processes.

That’s exactly where Stekz excels. It aims at efficiently converting an entrepreneur’s wish into working software, with the help of the latest innovations in software and AI.

AI as Bridge Builder

Apart from the most recent developments in the field of AI, two major trends have become apparent over the past few years. One trend is that AI is increasingly capable of extracting meaning from content. Whether it’s determining sentiment on Twitter, recognizing objects in a photo, or summarizing a long piece of text. The other trend is that AI is increasingly capable of generating content. A piece of text, an image, a piece of music, or a video: it’s all possible. All AI developments fall under one of these two categories.

With the rise of AI, the opportunities for task automation have grown significantly, and the end is not in sight.

In effect, AI is capable of extracting the intention from an utterance and then generating the digital artifact that realizes that intention. To the computer scientists among the readers, the similarity with the goal of a compiler will be clear. But for the rest of us, it means that AI bridges the gap between technology and business.

This innovative application of AI to enhance business processes is precisely why companies choose Stekz when they want to get everything out of AI.

AI Makes It Easy

When these trends are combined, entrepreneurs will soon be able to express their wishes in natural language, after which the automated process is automatically generated. This bridges the aforementioned gap between business and technology, preventing ambiguities and inefficiencies. Imagine saying: “I would like my system to support…”, and then the system immediately works.

While these possibilities were still science fiction a year ago, they are now realistic. They may not be perfect yet, but the depicted situation is rapidly approaching. Besides AI, various other tools are coming onto the market that help entrepreneurs to structure and communicate their wishes to technicians.

It is up to companies to implement these new possibilities or to be overtaken by reality. In any case, Stekz is ready to help enterprising entrepreneurs capitalize on all the opportunities AI offers them.

How Stekz Helps

Stekz assists companies in clarifying their domain, what they do, and how automation can significantly advance them. And specifically, the opportunities AI offers in this respect. Stekz has decades of experience in building innovative software solutions and applying AI. Here, the business wishes are always paramount. Stekz provides complete care from the initial analysis phase to the deployment and maintenance of the software product. This allows entrepreneurs to maintain control over, and understanding of, their processes.