Practical Machine Learning: let’s demystify the tech revolution

This is a guest blogpost by Kirk Krappe, author, CEO and chairman of Apttus

The thing about technology evolution that the movies don’t quite tell you is that it desperately relies on adoption. The most amazing invention on the planet could be created and if there’s not widespread consumer demand, or if it’s prohibitively expensive for businesses, that breakthrough isn’t going to actually break through. The old Henry Ford quote is more relevant than ever: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” However, by demonstrating the value and efficiency of new tools, we can push modern business forward exponentially –  unignorably.

To wit, the most exciting thing going on right now is the rapid acceleration of the machine learning space, which often gets associated with artificial intelligence and advances in bot technologies. Here we have a topic that has been researched, built out, and implemented for many years now, but which is finally breaking through into mainstream usage. Why is this? We can look principally to two related advancements in the field.

  1. Machine learning is more practical, accessible and applicable than ever before.
  2. As a direct result, it is more affordable and useful than it’s ever been, increasing its adoption and making it part of mainstream business.

If you’re looking to demonstrate value, the most direct example is that of sales. Particularly in the enterprise world, where many transactions rank in the six, seven, eight figure range, getting an extra bit of speed and efficiency into the equation makes a tremendous difference. Now consider this: CRM systems and other financial tools employed by enterprise companies are still relying on manual input from their sales teams to pick out the best products, the most appropriate discounts, and perfect pricing. Machine learning has changed the game here. Accessing historical and predictive data, the tools to create a perfect sale, optimized for both the salesperson and their customer, are at their fingertips. Product recommendations aren’t necessarily relying on either party knowing everything about their business – that’s how opportunities are missed on both sides. Geo-specific, industry-specific, and even future needs can be acknowledged and addressed in moments, creating a better experience for everyone involved.

Think about how that might affect a business – if every deal had a safety net ensuring that it addressed every need of the customer, and maximized the deal for a company, all while speeding up the entire cycle, that makes the entire sales process significantly faster and cheaper. It creates business advantages faster. In the B2B world, it takes a notoriously slow-moving operation and turns it into an asset – then passes along that advantage to an entire new ecosystem of partners and customers. One adoption benefits everyone who touches the business. Slowly but surely, the technology revolution continues on until it’s unquestionably part of the mainstream.

This is how we experience breakthroughs on a global scale; they blatantly improve the way we, and our businesses, perform in our daily lives. It’s not a flying car or a lightsaber (yet), but it’s incredibly exciting all the same.