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Does your business really need AI?

3 September 2019

Where the business case and control parameters are proven and effective, AI can demonstrably deliver significant productivity, efficiency and accuracy gains. However, as tempting as it may be for organisations in increasingly competitive marketplaces to jump headfirst into adopting or deploying AI, should your company ‘take a breath’ before diving in? This paper outlines the main points from the recently released National Cyber Security Centre guidance on assessing intelligent tools for cyber security – a valuable opportunity for businesses of any size to reflect on how they should (or equally, should not) adopt or deploy intelligent technologies.

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Driven by data

Understanding how a product deals with your information is an essential factor in selecting your AI tool. In many cases the decision-making quality of the AI tool will only be as good as the data fed into it. Many vendors synthetise data across their customers and/or third party sources, which has the benefit of allowing the smart technology to ‘learn’ from a larger data set. However, this does impose some risk. For example, use of the third party data may (if unrepresentative) introduce a bias. A number of considerations relevant to the implementation of SaaS agreements apply equally to the deployment of AI. For example, ensuring data is secure in transit and at rest, controlling where your data will be stored and undertaking appropriate due diligence on the vendor.

When it comes to your own data set, knowing what makes high quality data will improve your output. Ensuring your data set is comprehensive, diverse and accurate will help you get the best return from your AI tool.

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Overall gain in security?

Following implementation of your AI tool, you should adopt a process of evaluation to ensure the tool remains within the scope of work it was specifically obtained for. Assessing whether the data does ‘enough’ to provide you sufficient information to make the decisions the tool was deployed for should be an ongoing consideration. Importantly, having a ‘plan B’ – fixes and fallbacks for where the tool is down – will enable your business to continue to operate in case of failure.

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Should you do it?

Businesses need to consider carefully whether the introduction of AI is the right choice, before undertaking an exercise to adopt it. In many cases, this will require significant investment, both in terms of capital and resources. Adapting existing processes and procedures may bring similar benefits without the added risk and outlay associated with the introduction of a smart technology. However, the desire of many businesses to implement or deploy AI is rightfully driven by the positive change that many have witnessed it bring across industries. In each case, the National Cyber Security Guidance is a valuable reminder to undertake appropriate diligence prior to, and ensuring an appropriate governance and control framework is in place following on-boarding a new smart technology.

Does your business really need AI?
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