As a kid, artificial intelligence (AI) evoked the image of the old science fiction movies where super computers cleverly took over the world. Now as an adult working in the technology industry, I see artificial intelligence in a new light — helping all of us to be faster, more efficient and more productive.

I’m excited about what AI will help us do in the future. How it will open up a realm of limitless possibilities for consumers, the economy, and society as a whole, such as helping reduce electricity use or quickly moving life-saving supplies to the people who need them most.

During the recent European Big Data Value Forum, I had the opportunity to highlight the critical role and tremendous business opportunities that AI will play for European enterprises.

In today’s digital world, we know that data is coming at us from everywhere. It’s fuel for machine learning – the branch within the area of artificial intelligence (AI) that helps computers to learn from data and discover patterns without being explicitly programmed. The more data you give to the machine, the more patterns it can detect and the better the offerings will be.

It’s true: many companies aren’t strategically using machine learning or artificial intelligence — yet. But I believe that is all about to change. And companies that invest in digital transformation can use this vast amount of data to make smart decisions and to take action – creating a vastly intelligent enterprise.

But remember, data-driven innovation requires flexibility from across the enterprise to allow data to help define and refine processes. Be open and don’t let preconceived notions of what your data “should” do make you miss the opportunity to find out what your data “could” do.

Take healthcare as an example. There is currently a shortage of more than seven million physicians, nurses and other health workers worldwide. Soon, your first line of medical advice could be a chatbox on a mobile app. Think it’s fantasy? Think again. The UK’s National Health Service approved the information that the app Your.MD provides.

How’s that for combining human and machine intelligence to help the next generation prosper?

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below, or join the Twitter the discussion with @sap on Twitter using #AI and #machinelearning.

Did you know? At SAP, we have already started to implement the first use cases for machine learning in our systems like SAP Cash Application, SAP Service Ticket Intelligence and SAP Brand Impact.

Brian Duffy is president of EMEA North at SAP
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