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Artifical Intelligence

AI comes into 
enterprise focus

Last week’s Google Cloud Next ’23 event in San Francisco and Red Hat Summit in Johannesburg highlighted where AI is taking business. By ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When a technophobic teacher begins using artificial intelligence to enhance the quality of her teaching, it is clear that AI has firmly entrenched itself in the realms of productivity, for both individuals and organisations.

During a keynote address at the Red Hat Summit in Johannesburg this week by Dion Harvey, regional GM of Red Hat for sub-Saharan Africa, he told the story of his wife overcoming her resistance to technology by turning to AI.

“We all watched the breakneck speed at which AI developed but it wasn’t quite clear to me just how this technology was going to be impactful on the masses, until about a month ago,” he said. “My wife is a history school teacher who is technologically illiterate, and she came to me with a big grin on her face. She showed me how she figured out how to use ChatGPT to formulate an argument for a history paper she was setting for her students. In that moment, for the first time, I understood the power of how this would impact the masses.

“What is exciting to me about moments like this is that they offer us the opportunity to dream. They offer us the opportunity to take a step back and think about the art of the possible. Not just the art of the possible for what it means for your businesses and for your industry, but what is possible for you as an individual and for society at large.”

Coincidentally, the event came a day after the Google Cloud Next ’23 conference in San Francisco, where the search giant unveiled more than a dozen new AI tools for businesses.

The most significant of these is Duet AI, which it describes as “a powerful collaboration partner that can act as a coach, source of inspiration, and productivity booster”. Most significantly, it automates numerous tedious processes that get in the way of getting business done.

For example, said Aparna Pappu, Google Workspace GM and vice president, “To help you better engage during meetings, we’re removing the burden of note-taking and sending out recaps.

“Duet AI can capture notes, action items, and video snippets in real time with the new take notes for me’ feature and it will send a summary to attendees after the meeting. It can even help get latecomers up to speed with ‘summary so far’, which gives a quick snapshot of everything they’ve missed. But what if you can’t make the meeting and have some input to share? With ‘attend for me’ Duet AI will be able to join the meeting on your behalf, delivering your message and ensuring you get the recap.”

Google is building these capabilities into Google Workspace, possibly the world’s most widely used productivity platform, with more than 3-Million users, thanks to its integration of Gmail. It is also refurbishing its underperforming chat tool.

“Not every conversation needs a meeting, and sometimes collaboration happens on the go. You might just need a quick chat to connect with your team or solve a problem. Google Chat now makes that a whole lot easier with a refreshed user interface, new shortcuts, and enhanced search that let you stay on top of conversations.”

In the same way, Dion Harvey told us on the sidelines of the Red Hat Summit, his organisation was driving AI into workflow automation.

“Yes, you can use ChatGPT for example, but you might not get the granularity and specificity of the response you need. That’s why building language libraries that are specifically curated for purpose is part of our mission. It’s not just a cool tech, it’s a powerful tech that is able to take pretty much everything we’re doing to the next level.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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