CES 2018 shows us that collaboration is key in our journey toward artificial intelligence

Posted by  Elise Toulman

At the CES 2018 trade show held in Las Vegas earlier this month, there was, as one might expect, a huge focus on AI and machine learning. As is the nature of CES, many of the products on show are of concept, designed for the “wow factor”, but there was also a steer towards ideas that seem likely to become a reality in the not-too-distant-future.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant were everywhere in voice controlled devices, confirming that we really should be prepared to have completely connected homes in which we can communicate with anything from the fridge to a light switch. If a conversation with a microwave doesn’t appeal, the humanoid path of robotics and AI was also on display with YYD’s health & wellbeing robot, Softbank’s Pepper, and Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy making an appearance.

As impressive as these developments are (and they really are!), they beg a question about how artificial intelligence can genuinely transform the economy and actually improve the way we live our lives.

How AI will shape the economy

AI looks like the answer to boosting economic growth. Robots take on the repetitive, mundane tasks that have traditionally been the jobs of the human workforce, freeing up their time to concentrate on more complicated challenges with real business-benefitting outcomes. And this is the case across all business departments, from sales and marketing, through to project management and production.

Consider that the number of connected devices grows more and more every day, and as a result the volume of data being collected is also increasing. Although we’re dealing with more information than we’ve ever had, organisations have never been in a stronger position to use it due to advances in computer processing.

There was a fantastic example of this use of an abundance of data at CES 2018, when head of active safety at Daimler AG, Christoph Von Hugo, spoke about Mercedes Benz’s training activity for their cars. The “Intelligent World Drive” involved visiting five continents to gather data about different road signs, driving behaviours, and road structures to develop their AI and regionalise autonomous driving.

Although gathering the data was no small feat, with multiple cameras on board, and each of them bringing in roughly 1 DVD’s worth of data every minute, analysing it, and interpreting it, to then apply it when building the car’s software is where the real work begins.

AI in the field, and why collaboration is key to its adoption

More data makes for more reliable planning and forecasting, as well as better understanding customer and client needs. But customer and client needs change. In order to keep up with this and the innumerable developments in technology, organisations have no choice but to evolve and diversify. Nowhere is this more apparent than in driverless technology. Mercedes-Benz wasn’t the only car company showcasing how it’s transforming into a smart mobility company, focused not on selling cars, but on selling efficient transport solutions.

This evolution of organisations also invites collaboration. In order to build its e-Palette, a completely autonomous electric car, Toyota has enlisted the help of Amazon, Uber, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Didi Chuxing (aka China’s Uber). Whether it’s delivering parcels, people, or pizza, Toyota’s vision is to do it efficiently, and with the knowledge and experience of its would-be users at its core.

Apparently, designing and then building the tech-filled, electric smart car is the easy part. Future Mobility revealed their offering, the Byton, at CES 2018, and although it was certainly a crowd pleaser, it raised questions about its charging infrastructure. There are currently almost 4,500 fast-charge stations around the world, all supplied by Tesla, which means Tesla would need to be open to sharing its chargers in order to take Byton from concept to production.

"The intent of the supercharger network is not to create a walled garden... Any other manufacturer that's interested in using them, we'd be happy to accommodate." - Elon Musk, co-founder, CEO, and product architect at Tesla, via

Automation, collaboration, and digital assistants at Unit4

From our fully integrated cloud ERP solution, Business World On!, using the latest advances in key technologies (such as social, mobile, predictive analytics, cloud and big data), to our digital assistant, Wanda, using various Microsoft services (including Office365, Microsoft Azure LUIS and Microsoft Azure), our products have evolved through collaboration to become part of the essential make up of ambitious service-centric organisations.

In order to work toward business solutions with artificial intelligence built-in, Unit4 continues to invest in AI and driverless technology. Bringing increased efficiency and excelled productivity, our daily tasks are merging with technology more than ever. Organisations understand that they can save money as the time usually spent completing manual operations can be better used to focus on value-adding work. With automation, life becomes easier when performing digital tasks. Change happens fast, and our systems will extend and transform just as rapidly.

Elise Toulman