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Cognitive: The next frontier for development

By Silas Macharia | Jul 26th 2017 | 3 min read
By Silas Macharia | July 26th 2017

It has long been true that data rules clients’ decisions and strategies. But how much are we getting from it? Not enough, because as much as 80 percent of the data out there is unstructured, or functionally useless.

Even with the most sophisticated AI or machine learning system, we can’t get insights from inaccessible data. Cognitive tools are only as good as the data they leverage.

To overcome this problem, organisations need to harness top-tier machine learning and analysis capabilities to sift through the noise and pinpoint useful signals. That leaves the question of how — and who. To drive these efforts, companies need to hire top AI and cognitive developers. These developers, paired with data scientists, can help decipher insights from data to better power the tools of tomorrow.

Ride the Unstoppable Wave

The world of today is driven by data and is being rewritten in code. Developers are the essential architects of this shifting reality. Entire workflows and purchasing cycles at the consumer and enterprise levels have been digitized, as fast-moving technologies push our limits. In light of this change, virtual and augmented reality, digital assistants and the promise of AI are just some of the new world possibilities.

Think of the ordinary household items that have been “AI’ed.” Thermostats and security cameras are smart. Ovens can tell you when your chicken is perfect.

Smart TVs, smart cameras, even networked robots in plants and warehouses are transforming work and life as we know it.

Developers are embracing cognitive technologies to keep pace. IDC predicts that, by 2018, 50 percent of developer teams will embed cognitive capabilities in their applications. The AI and cognitive technology market is set to explode.

Kenya’s first commercials IOT project was run by M Kopo Solar with 400,000 devices around the country.

That being said Kenya has 40 Million mobile phone subscribers and anticipated close to $ 200 Million to be spent in 2017 in IOT for all industry verticals it shows that there will be need for Developers to change tact and include cognitive capability due to the numerous data points.

It makes sense that organisations are supporting AI-powered product makers while trying to differentiate themselves.

The Developer Challenge:  How to Handle New Tech and Pervasive Data

Big data and analytics tools have changed the way organisations understand themselves, their partners and their clients. For instance, data and effective analysis tools have taken the place of traditional surveys to drive a more meaningful understanding of customers and their journey.

An organisation looking to tap into how customers are feeling or saying can now use tools, such as a sentiment analysis API that sifts through millions of social media posts to discover how consumers feel about brands in real time.

Additionally, APP’s will incorporate Chat Bot Facilities that are API based to assist Customer Service. These APIs are driven by cognitive technology that can review terabytes of data for what really matters.

It could not come at a better time. Clients and partners who are used to the customised experience afforded by smart consumer technology are eager for even better-tailored experiences. Who will be handling all of this fast change? Again, organisations are turning to top developers who rely on their machine learning, data science and AI skills

Getting Ahead of the Curve

Cognitive business is the wave of the future. Organisations and their developers must be the architects of this next great technological shift.

Launching cognitive developer training and certification programs can be a good start.

The market is hungry for better ways to identify top-notch talent and the tools they produce.

For a surefire competitive advantage, organisations must hire AI/cognitive developers who speak the language, take action and proactively develop innovative and useful ways to leverage the technology and data around us.

In the end, those who push themselves ahead by acquiring and fostering the right talent, right now - will win. Those who don’t will be left behind. 

The writer is the Innovation Centre Leader at IBM East Africa

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