Interview: Ray Greenwood, SAS Australia & New Zealand

Interview: Ray Greenwood, SAS Australia & New Zealand

In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today we talk AI and analytics with SAS’s Ray Greenwood.

Which technologies or innovations do you think will be game changers in 2020?

As we move through 2020, I believe innovations that allow organisations to successfully transition more AI-driven experiments from development to everyday reality will be the game changer. Organisations will need technology and adaptive environments to scale projects into production-grade processes to help them make a step change in how they serve their customers.

Organisations will be leveraging existing analytics techniques such as natural language understanding/processing and computer vision, deployed in a ModelOps framework, to put these AI capabilities front and centre in their customer engagements. Projects that best transition AI into day-to-day operations will make the highest impact and guide future investment within those organisations, as success breeds success.

Which innovations or disruptions are your customers saying they are most worried or enthusiastic about?

ICT innovations that revolutionise customer experience are a big disruptor in the market where customers and citizens today expect personalised interactions and citizen-centric service offerings. Government organisations are enthusiastic about the innovative technology available today, leveraging data and AI to better inform them of their customers’ circumstances, yet at the same time worried about their social responsibility to deliver the right service promptly to meet their customers’ expected personalised treatments. Getting this wrong could have major social, security and health impacts.

We are working with many organisations to gain insights from their customers’ data and to intelligently guide their current and future interactions. A pragmatic approach is to focus their AI efforts on automating some of their high-frequency, low-risk decision-making processes to validate that their new capabilities perform as expected in the real world.

What will be the biggest growth opportunities for your company in 2020?

The biggest opportunities for SAS to help our customers is in helping them generate tangible returns from their investment in AI and data science, be it in open source technology or SAS. These are areas where we have seen a lot of investment in skills and capabilities but may not yet be delivering ongoing benefit operationally.

We believe the short-term focus for many customers is going to be on improving the rate at which experiments are deployed into production. SAS is ideally positioned to help customers bridge that last-mile gap and subsequently monitor their AI assets in production to ensure they always perform optimally.

What’s on your tech wish list from industry, regulators and innovators in 2020?

In order to fully realise the potential offered by AI there will need to be collaboration between industry and regulators in areas such as providing easy-to-digest guidelines, and pragmatic next steps on the ethical use of AI to ensure that it can be adopted consistently in a way that benefits both customers and organisations.

I would like to see open debate on a number of these topics with a view to reaching consensus on what behaviours are required of practitioners to ensure that the market operates efficiently and with transparency. Without this engagement we risk delaying the adoption of AI as organisations struggle to ensure they are compliant in their practices, as they seek to innovate using the most modern techniques in a way which should ultimately benefit their customers.

Ray Greenwood has spent two decades in the world of advanced analytics as both a user and a vendor of analytics platforms in industries such as financial services, retail, government and telecommunications. He has found that if there is one consistent theme, it is that there is always business value to be found in innovation driven by analytics.

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