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Intel is partnering with the Olympics, IKEA is training AI and Lufthansa is training data leaders

April was full of new initiatives from vendors as well as some fascinating news on the technology front. With Olympics in Paris approaching, more news will be flowing in from the capital of France.

New initiatives – from authorities, but not only from them

Cisco and eight other companies announced they would form the AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Consortium, as a venue to share generative AI knowledge and expertise in the workforce, and to help workers gain skills relevant to the newly AI-centric jobs of tomorrow. The companies said that the first order of business would be to create a broad-based report on the state of AI expertise among workers, which would also provide “actionable insights” for companies and their employees. Along with Cisco, the members of the consortium are Eightfold, Accenture, Google, IBM, Indeed, Intel, Microsoft, and SAP. The group said that the impetus for forming the AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Consortium is in part the work done by the joint US-EU Trade and Technology Council’s Talent for Growth Task Force.

India’s government has recently proposed the introduction of an artificial intelligence law aimed at protecting the interests of content creators, including news publishers. This move is seen as a pivotal step in finding a balance between the rights of publishers and the development of generative AI models. Legal experts have hailed this development as timely, considering the rapid expansion of AI-generated content and the concerns surrounding copyright infringements. The proposed legislation intends to address the growing influence of AI companies on news and content consumption, which has become a global regulatory and policy concern. Issues such as circumventing paywalls, determining fair use, sharing benefits, and providing credit and attribution necessitate regulatory scrutiny. By implementing specific laws, India can effectively enable technological innovation while safeguarding the values of news reporting and artistic creativity.

Vendor news

ThoughtSpot, the AI-Powered Analytics company, was named the 2024 Google Cloud Technology Partner of the Year Award for Data – Business Intelligence. At the same time ThoughtSpot has announced new integrations with Google’s Gemini models to help organizations unlock unprecedented value from their investments in the Google Cloud ecosystem, unleash their team’s creativity, and capitalize on opportunities like never before.

Salesforce announced the beta availability of Einstein Copilot for Tableau, a new capability designed to provide users with self-service analytics, streamline analyst workflows and unlock strategic data insights for users within the entire organization. Einstein Copilot for Tableau seeks to enable practitioners to dive deep into their data and utilize Tableau’s analytical engine through natural language processing to query and derive insights from data sources like spreadsheets, cloud and on-premises data warehouses and Salesforce Data Cloud. The new solution makes data analysis accessible to every business user and even suggests questions to users based on business data and metadata analysis.

Another Copilot was announced by Microsoft. Early this year, Microsoft announced the Copilot preview for Power BI web experience. The same experience is now available for preview in Power BI Desktop. This Copilot Preview experience is only available for paid Fabric capacity or Power BI Premium capacity users. Copilot in Power BI Desktop will support a number of features when enabled for a Copilot compatible workspace.

In its latest effort to make AI more approachable for enterprises at all stages of technological adoption, Qlik has announced the AI Accelerator. This service is designed as an initial foray for companies looking to explore the possibilities AI can offer, acting as an entry point into the broader landscape of AI-driven analytics. The impact of Qlik's AI solutions demonstrates the practical benefits and strategic value of deploying AI on top of solid data foundations. For example, Appalachian Regional Healthcare utilized Qlik’s AI to predict patient appointment no-shows, realizing $6M in cost savings over two years across 15 clinics by proactively engaging at-risk patients. RevLocal improved customer retention by 7% through predictive analysis using Qlik AutoML, highlighting the direct correlation between AI application and business growth. Integra leveraged Qlik's AI for lead scoring and risk assessment in the loan process, projecting annual savings of over $1M, showcasing AI’s role in enhancing operational efficiency and profitability.

Altair has acquired Cambridge Semantics, creators of analytical knowledge graphs, that can help powering next generation enterprise data fabrics and generative AI. Cambridge Semantics’ graph-powered data fabric technology can accelerate the creation of comprehensive enterprise knowledge graphs, integrating the complex web of structured and unstructured enterprise data together into a single, simplified view. Manufacturers currently use Cambridge Semantics Anzo to integrate siloed data into enterprise-scale knowledge graphs, enabling connectedness and interoperability across end-to-end R&D, manufacturing, and product lifecycle – helping power Digital Twin, IoT, smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and related digital transformation initiatives.

Strengthening data literacy skills

Ikea has started an initiative to embed AI literacy across its organisation. The retailer’s training programmes aim to ensure that co-workers are not just prepared but empowered to lead into the new age of AI. Since FY24, Ikea has set targets to provide AI literacy training to approximately 3,000 co-workers and 500 leaders. The initiative encompasses a variety of courses tailored to meet the needs of co-workers at various levels and journeys within the organisation. These range from AI Fundamentals, available to all co-workers, to specialised training like Responsible AI and Mastering Gen AI and Algorithmic Training for Ethics. The objective is to embed a deep understanding of AI across the organisation, ensuring that Ikea values are reflected in the way the technology is utilised. For leaders, programmes such as AI Exploration Days are designed to align AI potential with Ikea business priorities. Beyond this, the retailer has invested in programmes such as the Accelerator Programme, for tech enthusiasts with a Masters of PhD in the fields of Data Science, Machine Learning or Large Language Models, which aims to fill critical roles by attracting and nurturing the right talent.

Lufthansa created a data leadership program, and along the way, its team learned valuable insights about the roles that people could play in data-driven change. The company’s approach has lessons for other organizations facing the same need. The aviation industry incumbent faced not a mechanical problem but a human one: organizational resistance to change stood in the way of transformational efforts. Lufthansa’s data experts felt like they were operating as lone wolves, without the business support and use cases that would get the whole company behind its transformation goals. In its quest to beat these challenges and speed transformation, Lufthansa recognized that a crucial ingredient had been overlooked: the leadership circle. However, internal analysis confirmed that there was a huge shortage of data and AI literacy among Lufthansa’s leadership ranks, from the C-suite to team leaders.

New projects are coming

H&R Block is leveraging generative AI to help customers as they prepare their taxes using the company’s products before today’s deadline. Tax preparation company H&R Block is no stranger to AI and machine learning, having leveraged the technologies across its business for years. But now it’s diving headfirst into gen AI as it sees the potential to transform nearly every aspect of its business, from customer-facing applications to internal functions like engineering, marketing, and legal. This tax season, H&R Block has worked closely with long-time partner Microsoft to apply gen AI to help 69 million customers do their own taxes. Microsoft also selected H&R Block to participate in its AI 100, a group of companies prioritizing the development and deployment of solutions using Azure OpenAI service.

The Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor), the arms procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence, has implemented Qlik technology to gain better insight into and control over financial data reports. As a state-owned company, visibility on finances is essential for Armscor’s stakeholder reporting. Prior to the Qlik rollout, the agency struggled with disparate, legacy systems in place, with no central view of financial data, and no policy to offer direction. It required a data analytics solution that could provide it with better management of its data and corresponding insights.

As Florida faces an influx of people and rapid land development, there are growing needs when it comes to effectively protecting critical landscapes. Researchers at the University of Florida Center for Coastal Solutions and Center for Landscape Conservation Planning recently developed a tool to help address some of those needs. The Land Conservation Optimizer Tool helps identify optimal conservation lands in Florida that could help improve water quality if they are protected. To develop the tool, the researchers incorporated numerous conservation and water quality datasets. The starting point was using datasets from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to identify impaired waters. They overlaid known water body impairments with some national hydrographic dataset layers to identify where there were moving waters or water bodies themselves that intersected with these known impairments. The researchers then used land cover datasets to determine which of those lands were suitable for conservation.

Looking forward to Olympics

As the Official Worldwide AI Platform Partner for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris 2024, Intel announced its commitment to delivering an advanced audio-visual engagement experience. Using Intel processors, the company aims to introduce the power of AI in new and innovative ways that are poised to redefine how fans, athletes, organizers, and viewers interact with the world’s greatest sporting stage. Intel’s strategies focus on immersive experiences that promise to revolutionize the understanding and potential of Olympic athletes through intelligent technology. Moreover, the Paris 2024 Olympics will mark a milestone as the first event to offer broadcasts in full 8K livestreaming. At the event, AI-powered installations will invite attendees on an exciting journey into the shoes of Olympic athletes. These AI platforms, trained on Intel Gaudi accelerators and running on Intel Xeon processors with integrated AI acceleration, will enable advanced vision analytics that can associate participants with an Olympic sport profile. Furthermore, Intel is providing groundbreaking advancements in accessibility for visually impaired individuals. Through AI, three-dimensional models of the Team USA High Performance Center in Paris and the headquarters of the International Paralympic Committee in Bonn will offer smartphone app-guided vocal navigation. Let the strongest win!

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