October 10, 2022

AI Labs, my Dad and why I use food prep services

— Author: Gerard Fogarty

Despite global spending on AI sitting at $434B, and the average AI enabled company having 35 AI projects on the go at any given time, 85% of AI projects fail to deliver business value.

Now, what if I told you the reason these companies’ AI endeavours fail is the same reason why I’m not allowed to go to the grocery store hungry – I never know what I want, I over spend while I’m there, most of the food rots in my fridge uneaten, and I keep gaining weight. That last one isn’t relevant to the rest of this piece, but does serve its place in this cautionary tale.

When I was younger I took my Dad’s job for granted, he was a builder – the definition of physical labour – and when I would end up on building sites with him to help out, for me it felt just like that. Switch off your brain, move objects from here to there, hammer, concrete etc. Flick your brain back on when you got back in the car. As I grew up, I found myself swallowing my manly ego on far too many occasions, asking him for help with any leak, weird noise from the walls, electrical issue, you name it. I realised that this man has more knowledge about structural engineering, plumbing, and electrical engineering than most structural engineers, plumbers and electrical engineers I’ve ever met. I’ve watched this man diagnose where a leak in a house is coming from based on a conversation I had with him on the phone 3 hours away. He’s been in the middle of an apartment for 10 minutes and been able to tell me the year it was built. Even after doing work as a technician, I still won’t touch anything electrical until I’ve gotten his opinion.

In my clearly non-bias opinion, nobody could do what my Dad could do.

Until one day  I saw a piece of AI do just that. It was an AI system that based on certain parameters could accurately predict the year a building had been built, which worked amazingly, but changed my view on what AI truly is.

It’s just a worker, an employee, a highly specialised, deeply experienced employee whose only goal is to work non-stop in their specific field of expertise. So, if this is the case, then why do so many businesses invent projects just to have an excuse to deploy AI into their company? After all, you wouldn’t create an app for your business just to have an excuse to tell everyone you hired an app developer – employees are hired to provide business value to core business processes –  and that’s exactly how AI should be deployed in your organisation.

So great,  gone are the days of these whack-a-mole quick fix solutions, and now you understand that to make an actual difference you have to understand your enterprise as a whole, understand the practices at the core of your business, but your AI implementations are still failing.


Funnily enough, the answer for that is hidden within the question being asked.

Why aren’t these machine learning (ML) specialists creating AI powered solutions that are actually delivering business value?

It’s because you’re asking ML Specialists, geniuses in their field – not yours, to create AI powered solutions that will actually deliver business value.

You can take the raw data from an enterprise, and you can attack the AI implementation from a purely data driven perspective, promise the world to any business in the form of AI but the difficult truth is every business that you work with to implement an AI strategy is already functional, its already running and it’s already turning a profit. If there’s a venn diagram between machine learning specialists and people who understand what’s going to actually drive a return on your investment, it’s going to look like a picture of two circles barely touching. That tiny intersection of those two circles is all you need to explain the 85% failure rate I mentioned at the start.

That was it – that’s the nut cracked. That’s why an accessories company in the U.S. increased revenue by $16M annually through AI-powered product distribution, it’s how a company in the utility sector increased product development cycles by 400% and it’s how Altruistic is continuing to provide AI implementation that eclipses the statistics I mentioned in the beginning. By marrying top of their game data scientists, world class machine learning specialists, and business savvy economists it ensures our solutions are bespoke, data-driven, AI-powered and above all else guaranteed to drive meaningful business value.

So for any of your building needs, I can give you my Dad’s mobile number, but for building your AI strategy, I’ll introduce you to the human face of AI.

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