What I’m Reading: AI for Manufacturers, Fintech Startups, Digital Economy

The power of combining AI and analytics for manufacturers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the hottest topics in manufacturing today. The range of business and operational applications that it can be put to is almost limitless. Yet, it’s fair to say that we’re still very early in the AI adoption curve. Success with AI implementation comes through evolution not revolution. Combining AI and analytics for manufacturers can provide a natural path.

The increasing digital transformation happening within manufacturers is bringing the potential of AI into focus. IDC suggests manufacturing companies are “at the heart of a perfect storm, both living with and seeking to exploit disruptive technologies such as cloud, big data, AI-assisted analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), while facing increasing IT security challenges, regulatory pressures and a changing workforce”.

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Fintech is UK’s top tech sub-sector

Fintech is the UK’s top technology sub-sector when it comes to attracting investment, according to two new reports.The UK leads Europe in scaleup technology investments, according to the latest annual government-backed Tech Nation report, with just the US, China and India.

The UK’s strongest tech sub-sector, and where it currently ranks as number one in the world, is fintech, with investment in high-growth firms amounting to £4.5 billion between 2015 and 2018. 

A separate study from Stripe and paints a similar picture, with fintech being the top technology vertical for investment not only in the UK but also in Germany and Sweden.

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Digital payments startup Stripe says Europe is its fastest-growing market

Last week at the Web Summit in Dublin, I caught up with John Collison, one of two Irish brothers who founded one of the most innovative digital payment startups on the planet.

Stripe is its name, and making it easy for companies of all sizes to take payments online or on mobile is what it strives to do.

As I noted during the video interview, which you can watch above, Stripe is far from the only company offering that type of solution, so how does it differentiate?

Collison said the big thing with Stripe is its developer-friendliness, i.e. that it gives businesses the tools to customize the payment processing workflow and check-out experience from end-to-end.

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Artificial Intelligence In Sales: Is It Worth The Investment?

The International Data Corporation (IDC) recently released its Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, which predicts that spending on sales process recommendation and automation will reach $1.45 billion this year. David Schubmehl, research director at IDC, noted that: 

“Interest and awareness of AI is at a fever pitch. Every industry and every organization should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies.” This warning is as relevant to sales leaders as much as anybody.

My own experience supports this. An increasing number of my clients are looking at “sales process recommendation and guided selling,” or artificial intelligence (AI)-driven sales enablement, to give it the more standard industry term. They see it as a way to consistently replicate successful sales outcomes and streamline the sales process. 

While I haven’t played a role in their buying decision, I have experienced firsthand the impact of less-than-optimal implementations, the pros and cons of the software, and the advantages and potential pitfalls for sales leaders who invest in it.

As sales leaders live through one of the biggest changes in the way business to business (B2B) customers engage in the buying process, this has the potential to be huge. Implemented correctly, the model even has the agility to reflect the needs of different sales channels and buying habits across industries or regions. Implemented incorrectly, it just reinforces old buying habits and fails to move the dial in a positive manner.

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