Will artificial intelligence replace humans, or assist humans? That’s the great debate in Silicon Valley, and the larger world of technology. We’ll see this debate play out over and over, from theWestworldHBO television show that begins on Sunday to tech events that happen every week in the valley.
I recently moderated a debate about artificial intelligence in the CEO suite at the NetEvents Global Press & Analyst Summit at the beautiful Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif. A.I. is on an accelerated improvement path. Deep learning neural networks have made huge progress in the last five years. We’re seeing improvements in tech such as voice recognition, face recognition, autonomous cars are coming.
So the question is, will we have The Terminator and Skynet? Or Minority Report, where Tom Cruise is aided by all the computers that he needs? Science fiction has taught us to distrust A.I. and to believe in human intuition, instead. But what happens in the CEO suite? How does the CEO benefit from A.I.? Here’s an edited transcript of our panel.
Above: NetEvents summit at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif. Image Credit: NetEvents
VB: Let’s have our panelists introduce themselves.
Rob Pickering: I work in the office of the chief strategy officer at ServiceNow. We’re a cloud company that provides enterprise service management for the enterprise.
Jim McNiel: My name is Jim McNiel. I’m the global chief marketing officer for NetScout. We are the market leader in providing service assurance for large service providers around the world and large enterprises. We’re also in the cyber security business with our division Arbor Networks.
Guillaume Arnaud:My name is Guillaume Arnaud. I work for Anaplan. I’m running special operations at Anaplan which means I’m taking care of our [strategy] customers, make sure they are successful. Anaplan in a few words, we are a leading planning and enterprise performance management platform for smart business.
David Gurle:I am David Gurle. I am the founder and CEO of Symphony Communication Services. Symphony was born in October 2014. We serve financial services and other regulated industries with a very secure collaboration platform.
VB: Great. Maybe I’ll start with Guillaume on this. The CEO needs help in the suite here to make decisions. You were telling us this morning about HP and how much data it can access through Anaplan. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Guillaume Arnaud: Yeah, sure. HP – that was even before the split and they kept working with Anaplan after they split into two companies – we solved a huge problem for them which was how to allocate their sales targets across their entire sales force. Their sales force is 25,000 sales reps around the world, 200 counties. We were talking about 200,000 sales territories that they were managing. Before, it took them four months, four to five months, between the moment the process starts where we have the big sales targets and the time the sale rep in every country receives the letter that tells him, okay you need to sell this product with this discount – four to five months.
This was a huge risk for them. They moved to Anaplan about three years ago. In about five months – that was the time of the project – we moved this five months to a week, sometimes a few days. So the result was they set the target at high level and after one week everybody, every sales rep around the world, received his compensation letter. So they know what to sell and at what discount. That was solving this huge problem of…