By Olabisi Olaleye [email protected] 08094000013, 08111813040
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come to stay. Just imagine that you can now monitor your company or factory real time in Kano, without leaving your executive chair in Lagos.
Another scenario is having visitors welcomed and attended to by a robot at the office front desk, or a situation where the human resources department is replaced by chatbots and interface, including leave letters, promotion and enquiries, among others that received via the chatbot (a messaging platform).
These may not have materialised in Nigeria yet but in other climes AI is no longer new and many people are trying to leverage on it, including Accenture Nigeria, which is pioneering AI technology, to help businesses across different segments of the Nigerian economy boost productivity and efficiency through its innovations and investments in AI, Virtual Reality (VR), robotics and blockchain.
Shortly after a demo recently, Accenture Nigeria, through its managing director, said, “Early this year, we predicted that in five years, more than half of consumers and enterprise clients would select products and services based on a company’s AI, instead of the company’s traditional brand. And in seven years, most interfaces would not have a screen and would be integrated into daily tasks. These two predictions alone strongly suggest that companies must act now on developing their AI journey.
“We want businesses in Nigeria, from banking to manufacturing, health, construction, education, retail, security, and other sectors to take advantage of the innovations we have created to improve their businesses. We believe as one of the biggest economies in Africa, the time to seize the future is now.”
Responding to the belief that robots would take over jobs from humans, he Tayo said, “There is clear evidence that points toward robotic automation in many cases being a complement for human labour, rather than a direct substitute.
“Human effort becomes more valuable as it is focused on higher-level tasks, creativity, know-how, and thinking.”
Early this year, Accenture published a report, titled The 2017 Technology Vision, which studied how AI would affect banks. Over 600 of the world’s foremost bankers were surveyed and asked a series of questions about the new technology and how it would change the way banks operate internally and how they handle their customers externally.
According to the report, three-quarters of the bankers surveyed, four out of five, believe that AI would become the primary way banks interact with customers. This is in relation to customer service, and the bankers see AI technologies such as chatbots becoming increasingly essential for banks in the not-so-distant future.
Experts and academics in the technology industry were also among the individuals surveyed, which demonstrated how thorough Accenture’s study into the effects of AI on the financial sector was. The bankers surveyed also agreed that AI would help to improve user interfaces and enable companies to develop a more friendly customer service experience.
In an unrelated event, Accenture recently collaborated with the American Business Council in Nigeria to conduct and publish a survey on American companies operating in Nigeria.
The survey, which represented the responses of 48 American companies, showed that US companies’ impacted on the Nigerian economy in 2016 through gross value added to the nation’s energy future, economic, output investment, jobs and communities.
US businesses generated N1 trillion revenue for Nigeria in the 2016 financial year and made contribution of more than N34.4 billion to tax revenue, according to published survey conducted with Accenture and two other firms.
In the area of capacity building, over N340 million was reportedly spent on training in 2016.
Most of the businesses embarked on CSR projects in education and empowerment such as providing free Internet connection to Nigeria’s premier incubation hubs; building community schoolhouses; scholarship for students; and volunteering staff time to teach technical skills.