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The Machine Learning Revolution And What It Means For Your Business

When people hear the term Machine Learning (ML), a myriad of things come to mind; Steven Spielberg’s 2001 futuristic science fiction drama Artificial Intelligence, erudite robot sentinels named Andrew or machines that are able to regulate every appliance in your house at the push of a button. In other words, the term is imbued with a spooky and mysterious aura, as something from a distant future which is of no immediate importance. But make no mistake it is way more topical than you think: the future is already here.

You’ve probably already done Machine Learning at least a few times before you even got up to brush your teeth this morning; doing a Google Search, watching a video on YouTube or driving past a Tesla or any other autonomous car on your way to work. You are coming in contact with it in almost every instant of your waking life. And businesses in particular are becoming more and more attuned to this development.

A 2017 survey concluded that 60% of businesses in the USA have already implemented a Machine Learning strategy, and one-third of those surveyed considered themselves to be savvy in said implementation.

So what is Machine Learning exactly?
The term was first coined in 1959 by Arthur Samuel, an American pioneer in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence who was working at IBM at the time. Machine Learning explores the study and construction of algorithms which follow strictly static program instructions by making data-driven predictions or decisions.

In Layman’s terms : Machine Learning is a subfield of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed to do so.

It is employed in a range of computing tasks such as email filtering, detection of network intruders or malicious insiders working towards a data breach, optical character recognition (OCR), learning to rank, and computer vision.

What does this mean for your business?
It goes without saying that when speaking of a successful implementation of Machine Learning, the quality of data needs to be placed under a microscope as it is the great differentiator in today’s competitive landscape. Businesses pull in large quantities of it on a daily basis, from web interactions to inventory counts and from diagnostic reports to consumer feedback.

But what usually happens when all that data is accrued? It simply sits in the database. It remains unstructured and disjointed, separated across systems. Being able to see across all that data, adding up their implications and seeing the bigger picture which is being painted by their indications will determine the overall success and survival of your business.

Machine Learning gives you this ability by carving a brand new vantage point from which you will be able to view your data. It learns from what you compile to find patterns and insights, instead of simply following codes and commands. In addition to enabling you to make smarter decisions as a business owner, this revolutionizes how your business operates.

How has this worked for businesses so far?

Let’s use Google as a benchmark. Machine Learning has already brought the tech giant great fortunes as it has proven to be a game-changing tool in the process of optimizing their products. From real-time traffic and maps to spam detection and facial recognition in photos.

This has also capacitated them to design a new platform specifically tailored to their users which will make it possible to predict e.g.: when to ramp up production, know when their customers are ready to upgrade or even diagnose new diseases with speed and accuracy. The more data the users bring to this platform, the more insights they are given and the more opportunities they are given to redefine how their enterprise runs.

The future
This is the future of how machines and people work together to transform how we all do business, by taking our cues from smart technology to make us even smarter service providers and product suppliers. Technology is here and it is waiting for us to jump on board the train, but the question is:

Will you make the leap?


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