Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 43 - Page 46

FEATURE: MACHINE LEARNING To make decisions more quickly and accurately, enterprises in Africa are increasingly turning to Machine Learning, arguably today’s most practical application of Artificial Intelligence (AI). How should corporations ensure success and ROI from Machine Learning deployments in their IT environments? Machine Learning is a type of AI that allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so. Machine Learning algorithms use historical data as input to predict new output values. In addition, Machine Learning systems apply algorithms to data to glean insights into that data without explicit programming: It’s about using data to answer questions. As such, enterprises are applying Machine Learning to a wide array of issues, from customer purchasing patterns to predictive maintenance. According to research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC), spending on Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is expected to maintain its strong growth trajectory as businesses continue to invest in projects that utilise the capabilities of AI software and platforms. Referencing its latest Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, IDC stated that spending on AI systems in MEA is expected to reach US$374.2 million in 2020, up from US$310.3 million in 2019. “The AI software applications and AI platforms markets continue to show steady growth in the MEA region and we expect this momentum to continue over the forecast period,” said Manish Ranjan, Programme Manager, Software and Cloud, IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey (META). “The use of AI and Machine Learning is on the rise in a wide variety of business applications from ERP and CRM to analytics, content management and collaboration solutions. Many global vendors have started embedding AI, Machine Learning and cognitive applications to provide ultimate business benefits to their users.” Spending on AI systems in the region will be led by the banking and retail industries. Together, these verticals will account for more than 33% of spending in 2020, followed by federal/central governments and telecommunication industry. “With the growing adoption of various use cases across all industries, organisations are continuing to invest significantly in optimising their business processes, automating their operations and enhancing their products and services offerings in order to maximise the overall customer experience,” said Ranjan. Looking at individual countries, IDC’s forecast shows South Africa accounting for 20.5% of AI spending in MEA during 2020, followed by the UAE on 19.7%. Saudi Arabia will be the region’s thirdbiggest spender next year with 15.7% share. Turkey will rank fourth, accounting for 11.1% of regional AI spending. Andrea Tucker, Head of Research and Development, e4, said Machine Learning has grown to have a significant impact on people’s daily lives, often without even knowing about it. “Using Machine Learning, enterprises are now able to better understand and process their data much faster using modern tools with established algorithms. Potential outputs of a successful Machine Learning strategy can be powerful and measurable marketing campaigns or more efficient operations or logistics,” she noted. According to Tucker, firms want to be able to utilise their valuable data, but not at a cost that is greater than its inherent value and Machine Learning allows for this, with the added benefit Machine Learning technology garners enterprise thrust 46 INTELLIGENTCIO