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Artificial Intelligence

Surviving the Shakeup

AI is changing every industry. How do business models adapt?

By Kate Pavao

Spring 2018

The business world looks very different than when Hemant Taneja got into the venture capital business 15 years ago. Instead of just making life at home or work more efficient, startups are thinking much bigger.

“Today entrepreneurs are looking at all industries and asking, ‘What is the right education for the twenty-first century?’” he tells Profit. “What is the right type of healthcare, banking experience—or car?”

Ironically, thanks to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), these big questions are often coming from small companies. Here, Taneja, author of Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future, talks about new business models for companies of every size and the questions technology leaders must keep asking.

We have to think about how to add more transparency and algorithmic accountability. ”

On Scale: Instead of being a moat for incumbents, scale has become a rentable utility for startups. You could rent whatever amount of scale you need and service the customers you care about, however few or many are in your addressable market.

On AI: Companies that are not taking advantage of data with the tools that are made available through advances in AI will lose. AI plays an enormous role in helping all companies take advantage of real-time lessons from their customers. They can get feedback about service or an actual product, or test new products with subpopulations of their customers.On Chatbots: We’ve seen all kinds of enthusiasm around chatbots over the last couple of years, but it’s just “phase one.”

On Big Companies: They need to think about how they can be platforms, given the footprint they have in their spaces. If you’re a bank, how do you allow services to proliferate on top of you, so that you remain the foundation for your industry but make modern innovations available to your customers?

On Big Questions: Technology is neutral, but what choices do we make in adopting technology to rewrite the economy and society as a whole? We have to think about how to add more transparency and algorithmic accountability and how to keep in mind the interests of consumers, small businesses, and markets that are organizing themselves into a “winner take all” paradigm. We have to think about the broader health of the economy and the system as a whole.