The Computer Society of Kenya

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Transformative technologies often begin as playthings —toys and tools that a few people experiment with to discover novel uses. However, for these technologies to gain widespread adoption, they must unlock better utility and become part of the mainstream.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is firmly on its way to achieving this. From basic real-time image manipulation user experiences that led to popular mobile apps like Prisma to smart assistants like Microsoft’s Co-pilot and Google’s Gemini, embedded in productivity apps and platforms like GitHub. There are moonshot implementations like self-driving cars and bespoke medicine, but the depth of AI's utility here is arguably not yet fully democratised.

The fourth edition of the National Digital Summit, titled ‘Synergies in Digital Transformation and AI’, was a meeting point for technology leaders, C-suite executives, academia, and vendors looking to explore the pace and value of digital transformation and the role of AI in the extended tech toolkit.

The masterclasses were informative, with Safaricom leading the ‘AI and Customer Experience Enhancement’ track, Technology Service Providers of Kenya leading the ‘AI and Cybersecurity Integration’ track, Moringa School leading the ‘Building a Data-Driven Culture’, and Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers Red Dot Distribution exploring ‘Practical Use Cases of Using AI to Boost Sales and Marketing’.

At the heart of any AI talk lies data. For example, data has become the frontier at which large language models are trained with high-quality, diverse, and structured data essential for generative AI to produce meaningful output. We have seen owners of sizable datasets gate access as firms scraped content to feed their models.

If data is core to a valuable implementation of AI across sectors, it signals that the enterprise class is poised for early benefits from the technology. It can widen current moats, accelerating the growth flywheel by enabling customer value management (CVM).

Still, the friction point in the enterprise may lie within the leadership. Talent and tooling are crucial to unlocking CVM, and leadership must upskill in strategic knowledge to make the right calls on these two fronts. When applied correctly, AI can improve the entire value chain, from product creation to demand generation, revenue realisation, and value expansion.

Partnerships are crucial. Trusted third-party sources of first-party data can enrich the intelligence pools, enabling the creation of services that bring new revenue to participating organisations.

It is not to say those with access to high-quality data will have a smooth ride. There is still a regulatory, ethical, and best practice minefield ahead. However, I remain optimistic that we will soon see impactful localised applications at scale from the enterprise hinged on AI.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Safiri Express. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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