Home Regular Contributors Elan MacDonald AI Isn’t Optional. Get Your Business on Board!

AI Isn’t Optional. Get Your Business on Board!

Elan MacDonald

Recently, I moderated a panel discussion on artificial intelligence at forward/slash, an event that brought the thought leaders and decision makers of the Edmonton region together to unite behind a powerful vision for its economic future.

I talked about the potential of AI — for both Edmonton’s growing business community and the future of our city — with Cam Linke, CEO of Amii, one of Canada’s preeminent centres of AI; and Brian Kmet, director of business technology at PCL Construction.

Linke says it’s an exciting time in AI because we have technology mature enough to derive real business value right now, plus the absolute best top come from AI research.

And when he says “we,” he’s talking about you.

The Edmonton region has a robust, value-add ecosystem for AI. Whether it’s new tech in development at Amii, accelerators attracted here by Alberta Innovates, groups like AltaML creating joint ventures, or companies like Drugbank selling internationally, our region has a fully stacked ecosystem.

So, what does this mean for you? It’s time to get your business into the business of AI.

For Kmet at PCL, the operationalization of AI and machine learning are applied in very practical and tactical ways. For safety, PCL uses computer vision models to identify hazards before they become accidents, like looking at excavations to ensure proper set up and at personnel to ensure proper PPE equipment. And they apply machine learning models to prove productivity and then improve it.

Linke says your first — and biggest — step should be accepting that AI’s not optional anymore.

“Almost every sector across the globe is talking about using and leveraging AI to drive things forward. They’re hitting the gas.”

From there, you need to figure out what your organisation needs. Whether it’s investing in tech or talent, look no further than your own back yard.

“What I’ve learned in the past three years in recruitment, is we have a tremendous talent pool here in Edmonton,” says Kmet. “If you’re embarking on AI and machine learning initiatives, you’ll find those people by leveraging the University of Alberta co-op programs, spin-offs and researchers; they are hugely important. Just go to the post secondary institutions. Trust me, they’re remarkable assets.”

U of A is not only home to some of the world’s best AI research and researchers, it has ranked third in the world in AI research for more than 20 years, according to CSRankings.org.

Today, our region’s post secondaries partner in a pipeline delivering real world solutions from research and discovery to application. Researchers in the region are developing new technologies like smart grid, smart homes, new financial services and smart construction, which all create opportunities for our industries.

Kmet said it best during our talk at forward/slash: “What’s here is awesome. There are countless organisations in the Edmonton area that are producing technologies and talent that will improve your operational and business processes. It’s here. Use it.”