by Bryan Boots
Artificial intelligence and machine learning aren’t going away. For business leaders, professionals, and non-technical founders of tech startups: knowing basics about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), how it works, and what it can and can’t do will be table stakes for success in business in coming years.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI/ML technologies could add as much as $13 trillion in global economic productivity by the year 2030. Your industry is probably thinking about adopting such technologies or has already done so. If your business isn’t thinking about these issues, you can bet that your competitors are.
I teach entrepreneurship and innovation classes at the UMKC Bloch School. One of our core tenets is that entrepreneurship doesn’t only mean starting a new company. There are endless possibilities to apply entrepreneurial thinking and processes to create value or gain a competitive edge in corporations, government, not-for-profits, and other organizations that aren’t tech startups. One increasingly common way to do so is to leverage the potential offered by AI/ML.
Thirty years ago, knowing how to use a computer efficiently may have set you apart in your job search; in today’s business world, every employer expects you to know how to use a computer — it no longer sets you apart, it’s just the “price of admission”. The same is likely to be true with AI/ML. Do you need to become an expert in software engineering, algorithms, object-oriented programming languages, and data science? Absolutely not. But, you will need a basic level of fluency in emerging technologies going forward because these technologies will have (and already are having) deep impacts on business processes and business models.
“It’s not just technical folks who can benefit from building up their artificial intelligence skills” – this is the opening line in the Forbes article referenced above, and it rings true here at the Bloch School. Anyone can get up to speed on the basics of many of these technologies. In classes I teach here in the Bloch School, I have entrepreneurship, marketing, management, and other non-technical students doing 3D design, AI/ML development, creating chatbots, and mobile applications. If they can do it, your organization can too!
These things aren’t just happening “out there”, either; they’re going on right now in Kansas City in startups and corporations alike. Look up Fishtech Group, Tesseract Ventures, RiskGenius, TripleBlind or Neer.ai to get a taste for what’s going on in this space right here in Kansas City — and know that there are many more beyond these.
UMKC, the Bloch School, and the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation stand ready as your partners in helping you make sense of these opportunities and challenges.