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Dec. 28, 2020
This paid piece is sponsored by Dakota State University.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do?
Some start a pot of coffee. Others try to get an extra five minutes of sleep.
But did you know that 46 percent of Americans check their smartphones as soon as they wake up?
It’s a large number, but it’s one that’s not all too surprising. Our smartphones, the internet, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and more play a major role in our day-to-day life – so much so, they’ve even earned themselves a name: disruptive technologies.
Those in the College of Business and Information Systems at Dakota State University know just how vital of an impact these technologies have had within the business world. One professor in particular, Dr. Deb Tech, teaches a variety of classes that introduce and explore disruptive technologies, as well as AI.
Tech, who has taught at DSU for 20 years, took some time to speak about these technologies and their impact within DSU’s College of BIS.
Can you give a description of what disruptive technologies are?
Disruptive technologies change the way we conduct business, live our lives or make major changes in a sector of life or industry.
What do they look like?
A recent example is the internet, as it changed all aspects of business, health management and personal relations. In the business world, we no longer send letters or faxes as our primary form of communication. Rather, the internet was the underlying technology that disrupted this communication method, and now we use email, texting and videoconferencing as primary communication methods. This disrupted the world of sending faxes, for example. This means that the fax machine industry had to change their focus or go out of business, a major disruption to that industry.
Are AI and disruptive technologies the same thing?
AI is a subset of disruptive technologies. It is one technology that touches nearly all aspect of our lives and changes how we conduct our lives and business. Many believe that AI will disrupt business, health care and personal lives as much as the internet has. Other current disruptive technologies include Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, blockchain technology, virtual reality and eventually quantum computing.
How are disruptive technologies and AI used within the College of BIS? Around the world? In businesses and organizations?
Many of our courses in the College of BIS incorporate aspects of AI and other disruptive technologies into the curriculum. For example, in my Marketing Principles class, we discuss how disruptive technologies – AI, IoT, VR and blockchain – affect the environment companies operate in. In our Sales class, we investigate the use of AI in managing our customer list.
Our Promotional Management class also investigates the use of AI in targeting ads. We also have a Marketing Technology class that delves deeper into disruptive technologies and how we can use them to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
For example, AI assists in facial recognition. My favorite example of AI and facial recognition is when traveling internationally. By the time an international traveler leaves a plane and walks through the long, long hallway to get to customs, cameras have captured the traveler’s facial image and compared it to existing information to check for unwanted entrants. Humans can do the same function but not as effectively or as cheaply. In this way, AI is “disrupting” airport security.
AI can provide insights into customers/prospects and assist in research and development. Some fields in which AI is prominently used are marketing, sales, IT operations, human resources, finance, accounting and more.
How can Dakota State graduates benefit from learning about AI and disruptive technologies?
DSU has two business classes that I’m aware of that specifically speak to this: Management of Innovation and Technology, and Marketing Technology.
Knowledge of disruptive technologies and its impact on a business is fundamental in maintaining a competitive advantage. Astute businesspeople realize the dramatic change that a disruptive technology can bring and implement strategies to ensure a company’s success.
Knowledge of what artificial intelligence is and how it can be utilized in business will become a fundamental skill required of future businesspeople. DSU business graduates have an edge in the marketplace because of their comfort with this technology due to their education.
Because of the emphasis on technology in the curriculum, students and graduates are able to speak with all people in the enterprise when discussing implementation of processes that require technology. DSU graduates will be able to work comfortably in areas that incorporate artificial intelligence in their processes. This includes areas such as production scheduling, logistics, targeting of advertisements, etc. Being able to understand how artificial intelligence works, the underlying requirements and ethical usage is key.
How can AI and disruptive technologies be innovative?
My favorite example is associated with voice recognition, an innovation that is powered by AI. When I speak into my phone, it detects if I am speaking English or Spanish and converts my voice into text nearly flawlessly, accents and all! A more common use of AI and innovation are the recommendation systems that we utilize when shopping on Amazon or purchasing a movie from Netflix. AI utilizes big data, applies algorithms and comes back with that perfect selection.
What areas are AI and disruptive technologies most prominent in? Why?
The industries that use artificial intelligence most are our health care, education, marketing, retail and e-commerce, and financial markets. The question of why these sectors is a bit trickier. It has to do with the combination of cost versus benefit, room for advancement, availability of funds for investing – typically tied to size of organizations in the industry and competitive pressure. AI is apparent in most, if not all, sectors.
How do disruptive technologies and AI constantly evolve over time?
AI is an emerging technology. As we progress, we will learn more from past successes. And just as important, the technology itself will learn from experience and eventually be able to make itself better without human intervention. We will have more computing power, become better at managing large amounts of data, refining algorithms and identifying areas for application.
For quick reference, one might consider the improvements that we have seen in voice recognition on our phones. It has improved dramatically over the last couple of years, based largely on improvements in AI.
Some may believe that AI and disruptive technologies are a bad thing. How can these technologies positively influence society? What can society learn from them?
It is important that people understand the use of AI and how it is related to personal privacy and society. On the positive side, AI has assisted us in the development of pharmaceuticals, tailoring of prescription drugs, improved processes, better products, etc. As with many technologies, it is important that society is aware of both the positive and negative aspects. Governments around the world are beginning to address this with policies.
How do DSU students gain experience with AI and disruptive technologies? How does this benefit graduates?
Business graduates with an understanding of artificial intelligence and its applications will have a competitive advantage. Much like the internet, AI will be pervasive throughout organizations. Those graduates that are well-versed in AI will be comfortable conversing with the technical world when refining existing processes that incorporate AI, outline new processes to automate or improve existing practices, and incorporate this disruptive technology when developing corporate strategies.
A new year is a great time to learn about the technology of tomorrow. Enjoy this fascinating insight on artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies courtesy of the experts at DSU.