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Competing in the Age of AI

Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog

How machine intelligence is changing the rules of business and what should companies do to stay on top? 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks.

According to IDC, Companies are forecast to spend $98 billion on AI, globally in 2023. This stems from the fact that more and more businesses continue to invest in projects that utilise the capabilities of AI software and platforms. For example, most companies have turned to chatbots or automated customer service agents for their customer services.

In the current scenario, the world is grappling with a global pandemic, the COVID-19. This has forced most of the countries into lockdown and changed the way businesses function. The role of AI has now become more important than ever.

We are in a phase where AI is realising its potential in achieving human-like capabilities, so isn’t it time to question the business leaders on how they can harness the strength of man and machine.

With technologies such as deep learning, IoT, computer vision and language processing, machines have learnt how to speak, read, text, identify patterns, and so much more. As this field precipitates more into activities that are commonly manual, for example, the use of AI to combat the corona pandemic in China such as training the AI to recognise a positive case using the Chest X-Ray. 


Rather than scrapping the traditional methods of competitive advantage, AI reframes them in such a manner that companies can get a dynamic view of their strengths. For example, brand positioning of a company was traditionally based on proprietary assets, distribution networks, customer base, market conditions, decision making, etc. 

These can be reimagined by AI. Let’s see how:

  1. Data: AI can harness data at a much faster rate and directly from users.
  2. Customer Access: AI can generate insights from online as well as physical stores (if connected using computer vision). It can prompt personalised marketing and promotional offers based on the customer usage pattern.
  3. Automation: Algorithms learn from data and experience. This can allow them to explore new opportunities and thrive under conditions of high uncertainty and rapid change.
  4. Decision Making: AI increases the rate and quality of decision making as the number of inputs and the speed of processing for machines can be millions of times higher than for humans. 
  5. Predictive analytics and objective data are free from human gut feeling and experience. Many industries such as online advertising, supply chain management and pricing in retail have all moved sharply in this direction.


In this AI-enabled world, it is almost imperative for companies to embrace AI to achieve a competitive edge. Companies need to identify what machines can do better than humans and vice versa, and then develop complementary roles and responsibilities for each, and redesign processes accordingly.

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