On July 9, 2020, the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA students, the WHU Full-Time MBA and Part-Time MBA students were able to listen to an exciting guest lecture on “Artificial Intelligence and Innovation” by Dr. Michael Spira, Project Leader and AI Ambassador at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The guest lecture was delivered in a hybrid format: While the speaker and many students were on-site in class, other students, who could not attend in person because of the Corona-related travel restrictions, participated from many remote places from around the world.
In his talk, Dr. Spira highlighted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to have a strong impact on businesses across industries: Today, Netflix creates content based on customer preferences, leveraging its real-time access to customer behavior. Nvidia, furthermore, uses a virtual driving environment that accelerates self-driving tests by a factor of 1,000, slashing both development costs and time. Besides, Uber intelligently matches supply and demand to provide more convenient, faster, and price-optimized transportation. The latest BCG Global Innovation Survey establishes that firms see digital-related innovations such as Big Data analytics and AI to have the largest impact on their industry. Leading firms also use more Big Data, analytics and AI in their innovation processes.
After defining and providing an overview on several AI applications, Dr. Spira referred to the AI paradox: Although it is deceptively easy to launch AI pilots and achieve powerful results, it remains hard to scale AI. Scaling AI does not simply mean to train algorithms with more data – it rather requires firms to adjust their operating and entire business model, including machine infrastructure, organizational structure, team composition etc. To overcome these challenges, Dr. Spira presented and explained an iterative transformation approach and provided industry examples. The discussion with students revealed many practical insights that will help managers to realize the full potential of AI.
We would like to thank Dr. Spira for his great commitment and impressive presentation – we are looking forward to welcoming him back at WHU!