Artificial Intelligence as a game changer for BC Businesses

Artificial intelligence, or AI, should no longer be imagined as peripheral high-tech experiments. AI in its various forms is pertinent to every aspect of our lives. Adopting AI is a fundamental imperative for responsible organizations in order to embrace new business models, respond to talent shortages and create efficiencies to remain competitive in the global race for meeting customer and citizen-centric needs.

Not adopting AI to leverage strategic data in your organization would be like cycling in a road race on a steel bike with trail tires while everyone else is on a carbon-fibre bike with road tires.  Maintaining the status quo could prove to be a risky business proposition when competitors are deploying AI technologies with tremendous speed and impact.

British Columbia is ripe for investment in, and the adoption of, AI. We already have a flourishing ecosystem of over 150 AI companies, which has produced some globally recognized unicorns. Our province has traditionally relied on our natural resources sector to generate jobs and sustain the economy. Now that forestry, mining, and every other business sector are fundamentally disrupted by applied AI, British Columbia’s businesses are poised to take advantage of our tremendous local AI talent pool. A KPMG in the US AI adoption study conducted in 2019 reviewed the job postings of 200 of the Global 500 companies. Sixty-nine per cent of the postings were related to AI. The larger companies are investing.

As I write, a global brand has just announced a $500M investment in a Cyber Security Centre in Vancouver. The press releases are increasingly frequent — a signal that we are moving from experimental to applied AI and entering a new wave of AI-powered innovation.

With ever-increasing support from our Provincial and Federal Governments and the hard work of The Artificial Intelligence Network of BC (AInBC), The Digital Technology Supercluster, BC Tech Association and others, our region’s identity is shifting to that of a major global technology player. While the supply side is quickly getting established, business leaders in BC, including Board-level directors, senior management, and private company owners, have a responsibility to be at the forefront of AI adoption to enable the demand side. This involves re-evaluating your business model, and perhaps coming up with a new one – one that can sustain and foster ongoing innovation, leverage available data and develop new performance structures.  

Think like a platform company: evaluate how to leverage the power of the collective and collaborate to create new products, markets and opportunities. Take advantage of the rise of AI-as-a-Service and marry internal resources and strategies with an “as-a-service” model, keeping modularity and flexibility in mind. There are likely some quick wins to be had within your organization and opportunity to position it for longer-term fundamental changes. Do you have an AI strategy that is a C-Level priority? If not, how will you design one in the next six months? The pace of development is accelerating. Let’s get you that carbon bike — and road tires.

Written by Jameel Ahamed

Partner, Consulting, Digital and Data Analytics, KPMG in Canada