News & Events

Understanding AI’s adoption within businesses

24-04-2024|Anthony Gougeon

It is hard to avoid talk of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with there being plenty of information and conversations in the news or within your business, on social media or even in the software you already use. Whether it is about AI in the form of Chat GPT or Microsoft’s Copilot, to more creative apps like image generating tools such as Midway and Wonder, it has been impossible to ignore since last year. Today, we share the first in a series of articles we at Ultimate Finance are working on to share our understanding, opinions and predictions on how AI may disrupt, improve or threaten the way we and others currently do business.

What is AI?

AI has long been a concept talked about and used to terrify us as an audience – think Skynet from the Terminator films for instance. But in real life, it is essentially a branch of computer science that focuses on computers mimicking what humans can do with their brains – whether that is understanding, learning or processing information, through to the creation of ideas and art. It can just generally do things faster by reducing the amount of human effort required to see a task through!

With AI being touted as the saviour to help make processes more efficient and safeguarding against human error, it is a component that has suddenly lodged itself on many businesses’ digital transformation roadmaps. For some businesses, understanding and implementing AI is easier said than done.  Take the financial sector as an example – where money and credit-worthiness are concerned,  AI poses as many risks as it does opportunities, one of the biggest being more sophisticated fraud, and with regulations dutifully building a safe and legal framework to its use, AI has to be carefully explored to ensure that any benefits it brings are delivered  without compromising the financial business and its customers.

Despite seemingly crash-landing into society out of nowhere with loud promises and threats in almost equal measure, it is important to bear in mind that AI has already been around for longer than we realise and, like plenty of technological revolutions before it, will most likely become a tool all of us use daily without thinking twice. Ultimate Finance’ Chief Information Officer Andrew McKee says, “Every ten years or so a technology comes along that has the potential to transform every industry – the World Wide Web in 1991, social media in 2000 and smartphones in 2007. AI (and generative AI in particular) is another of these technologies. In ten years’ time we’ll all be wondering how we got by without it, so investing time in understanding how AI will affect your business now is a wise investment”.

What are the different types of AI?

There are many different apps you can use to access or experience AI, and most of us will have (knowingly or not) started to use AI just by using Google or Microsoft recently. Chat GPT exploded onto the scene last year and is where many people have started the exploration into AI, but it is important to understand the different types of AI and what they are designed to do.  Here are some of the most common types you should be aware of:

  • Machine Learning: This where computers learn from data. A machine is given a large volume of data and by reading and analysing it, it learns to recognise patterns or even make predictions. The key to all machine learning is training where you help it to learn and refine its parameters to make it more effective and accurate. But like Chat GPT it can also learn without humans by drawing on the feedback to its answers and gathering more data from wider sources.
  • Deep Learning: This is a type of machine learning, inspired by the human brain itself. It uses artificial neural networks, which can process complex information and learn from large datasets. It is commonly used in things like facial recognition software or chatbots that can hold conversations.
  • Generative AI: This focuses on creating new content, like art, music, or even text. We recently had some fun with it by asking it to look at our business brand and decide what it would be, if it were a breed of dog. The answer that came back was a Border Collie on the basis that it perceived our business to be smart, agile and adaptable. Then using the creative app Midjourney and giving it some parameters, we asked it to generate some pictures of what that would like in picture form using our brand colours (or thereabouts!) and it designed a dog wearing winter clothing in our brand colours in front of a snowy mountain.

Large Language Models (LLMs): These are advanced generative systems trained on massive amounts of text. They can generate text in response to a variety of questions. LLMs have the potential to change how we interact with computers and access information. This can empower our teams by cutting down on the time needed to retrieve information and gain new knowledge.

How might AI find its way into your business?

Whilst there is no doubt that last year was a noisy explosion of all things AI, and perhaps the initial frenzy has somewhat calmed, there is no question of it going away and it will be a part of our future. As we have said – it is now hard to avoid. You might value it by using standalone applications like ChatGPT or Gemini or it may come as part of a software service you use, which may have a sprinkling of AI fairy dust – perhaps it is a platform that draws information from various public sources, pulls them together and then provides you with some analysis.  There are many ways to explore using AI in your business and in the next article in this series, we will look at what steps you can take to both maximise the opportunity AI can bring as well as talking about how you identify and manage some of the risks that it may pose.

You may also like

Let’s get things moving

If you would like to talk to us about any funding needs, call us on 0800 121 7757, register as an Introducer or request a quote for your business today