outThought at the ARN Women in ICT Awards

ARN recently hosted the 2017 Women in ICT Awards and it was an inspirational day had by all!  outThought were invited to speak on the AI Panel and Director Lisa Bouari discussed AI opportunities, market and the future alongside industry thought leaders Gwenda Phillips (ANZ); Michelle Zamora (IBM) and Victoria Kluth (Araza).

The awards were one of the most comprehensive and competitive line ups to date for the contested industry award, and with more than 40 companies and 50 finalists the room was buzzing with top talent, achievements and energy.

Image Courtesy: ARN

Is Australia behind in AI?

Susan Searle (ARN) proved to be a dynamic and entertaining mediator, dealing questions to the panellists in a rapid-fire question round which saw the one of the largest financial institutions and IT vendors share their views on the state of AI in Australia. Susan asked about Australia and how we compare to the rest of the world when it comes to adopting AI technology.  Michelle (IBM) was of the view that, “Australia is well behind the rest of the world in its adoption of this technology.  We are taking the right steps across all industries, albeit slowly.”

A combination of conservative business culture, lack of tech understanding at executive levels and ability to execute with resource challenges were the main factors.

Gwenda (ANZ) echoed this from the banks viewpoint and gave some great advice to the attendees.  “One of the things organisations need to be aware of in the rush to adopt these technologies is not to forget the ‘people’ – and to ensure they are taken on the journey. The people are as important as the technology”.

What advice do you have for organisations starting their AI journey?

Lisa (outThought) shared some advice based on her experience with companies starting their journey. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is a new, exciting and high risk domain.  Whether you sit on the consumer or project side, take on small iterative proof points, with strong business value, and do them well.”

The sentiments were echoed by the other guests on how to achieve the best acceleration and outcomes with new technology.

Michelle (IBM) stressed the importance of partnering for success in the new domains and being clear on the relationship between ‘new’ tech and business benefit before starting. Victoria (Araza) spoke of the importance of consistency, perseverance and not to underestimate the ‘hustle’ to get it done. Victoria had the room erupt in laughter when she closed with, “technology is changing so fast, so love the technology you are working with, but don’t marry it”.

Incubators for Incubators sake?

Gwenda Phillips (ANZ) Centre. Image Courtesy:  ARN

Corporates like ANZ are taking start-ups very seriously rather than wearing them like a badge of “innovation honour”.   Gwenda (ANZ) spoke on how she effectively curates and assess the best investment options. This includes attribtes such as “the ability for the concepts to scale, how easily they can be disrupted and if they are backed by a strong revenue model. It isn’t incubators for incubators sake anymore, it is real investments in real ideas and the banks are doubling down on them”.


Where are the opportunities for new organisations?

With such a high demand where are the opportunities for new organisations when the bigger players are dominating the market? Lisa (outThought) discussed how most organisations are hesitant on spending significant amounts of money for proof points in emerging technology.  “Organisations are working with partners like outThought because they can test proof of value concepts without the huge outlay that is often required from large vendors.” She added,  “Cognitive and AI based technologies should be available to every business, large, medium or small.  There are significant gains to be realised from this technology and many organisations haven’t got the full set of required capabilities or knowledge in house to successfully execute”.

Lisa Bouari (outThought). Image Courtesy: ARN

We can’t wait to attend the next ARN Awards. It was a brilliant day meeting high achievers and it was a pleasure for outThought to be a part of it.