Building a business case

How to build a business case for investing in Artificial Intelligence.

The intangible nature of AI technology can make it difficult for executives to build a business case for investing in new projects. Two examples show how well-thought out, high-impact projects can help with this.

The difficulty of making a business case with AI

The excitement around artificial intelligence has reached a tipping point, with its presence across sectors making it the primary battleground for technology vendors. But, despite the desperation on the part of companies, accelerators, and VCs to find a foothold, this vibrant market remains more conceptual than one of tangible substance. This makes an investment in AI technology a step into the unknown. A business case for such projects is not easy, needing reliance on intuition rather than ROI figures. Taking risks by investing in one or two high-impact scenarios can be very rewarding. The article covers two instances of how major organizations are doing this.

Sizing up the opportunity

AI requires using large amounts of data smartly, which the global law firm Linklaters is doing by turning its 175-year-old knowledge base into a competitive advantage. AI can create more sophisticated approaches for searching through this knowledge base, helping lawyers with quick information regarding legal precedents and previous projects. Linklaters’s CIO expects the ability to digitize and search contracts for key legal themes to become commonplace very quickly. The firm has already created an AI working group to analyze services in the marketplace and to work out how these technologies might impact the business.

But this change in how lawyers work also involves a cultural challenge. Senior partners will have to start trusting computers to do the same kind of work in seconds they have traditionally relied on associates to get done after spending hours with legal documents. Among other things, it’s the reputation of the lawyer and the firm on the line.

Using data to save lives

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is involved with DeepMind Research, a project that involves the Trust sharing a set of one million anonymized eye scans. The hope is that these historic scans will improve future care, and lead to discoveries that make early detection and reduction in preventable eye disease possible. Challenges related to data security and confidentiality make it difficult to use non-anonymised data, which is actually more useful if demographic information is to be used to inform patient care. But stakeholders trust that similar projects will eventually lead to significant change in terms of how humans look at AI.

The future with AI


These experiments show that the potential of this self-learning technology is exceptionally exciting, and should encourage everyone involved in IT to investigate its uses. What also emerges is that, contrary to reports, automation does not simply lead to job cuts, but can create a new range of data science roles.

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