CIOs are beginning to recognise the stakes around generative AI. But there’s still a lot of confusion about the best place for investment to drive growth.

We are living through a unique moment where two transformative technologies for business are converging. On one side, there is the awesome power of the cloud, which allows businesses to break down silos so their teams can access the data they need to innovate faster and in a more secure environment. On the other side is generative business AI, which can do everything from generating content and code to automating time-consuming tasks and discovering new insights.

But behind the hype and the headlines about generative AI lies a fundamental truth that IT professionals know very well. Any new technology only has value when it can be integrated seamlessly across systems and processes so organisations can do things they couldn’t do before.

In other words, it’s never about the new technology itself. It’s always what the new technology can do to move businesses forward that really counts.

Increasingly, CIOs recognise what’s at stake to get generative business AI right. According to CITI’s second quarter 2023 CIO survey, 86% of respondents are directly funding generative AI projects. But there’s a lot of confusion about where these investments are best directed to drive growth for their business and value for their customers.

As head of customer success at SAP, I speak with CIOs all the time about how to make the most of their technology investments. And whether it’s the cloud or generative AI, my message to IT professionals is simple. Experience in your industry and integration across your systems matters now more than ever. Working with experienced partners like SAP is also the only way to unlock the power of responsible, reliable and relevant AI for business.

Huge potential

The potential of ERP systems powered by AI is huge. It could allow mundane tasks to be automated more intelligently, freeing up teams to tackle more strategic challenges. It could allow analytics to become even more predictive by using data in AI algorithms to identify trends and patterns long before they become obvious. And it could enhance customer experiences by using data on preferences coupled with real-time data on supply chains to help companies offer more personal recommendations, while also making sure those products are available where and when people are ready to buy them.

SAP has been helping businesses use technology to solve these kinds of challenges for decades – starting with ERP and expanding across the enterprise. And while the idea of having cloud solutions augmented by AI might seem new, the reality is we’ve already been embedding AI into use cases. A lot of our customers are already using AI-powered solutions and seeing impressive results.

For example, American Sugar Refining, which has been delivering sugarcane products for over 150 years, is now using AI embedded in the SAP Business Technology Platform to predict the cost of moving freight more accurately. Predictions that used to be a painstaking process are now being generated automatically in seconds. As a result, they’ve been able to generate 2 200 forecasts for 628 trucking lanes sampled from six US states with six months of data – and with 95% accuracy.

1702285697 819 How to get the most out of this transformative moment | perutrenOr take the example of Motor Oil Group, which needs to monitor the health of its refinery equipment to minimise downtime and reduce maintenance costs. By embracing machine learning and predictive analytics from SAP, it has been able to build predictive models for abnormal events based on sensor data and feed them into user-friendly dashboards and e-mail notifications. As a result, it has been able to explain abnormal events with 77% accuracy and predict future sensor measurements with 70% accuracy.

These are just two examples of what’s already happening when AI is embedded into cloud solutions. And it is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come. That raises an important question for IT professionals. What are you doing today to get ready for the coming flood of generative AI technology that will be available to you but also to your competitors?

This race has already started. Those who team up with partners with the right combination of experience and integration will be the ones set up to win it.

Learn more about SAP’s portfolio of products, including relevant, reliable and responsible AI built for business.

  • This article was originally published by Forbes
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