AI & ML: Achieving repeatable success through partnerships

Published on
May 14, 2020
Joy Chua
Partnerships & Market Development

In 2018, industry research firm Gartner made an audacious prediction: that 85% of artificial intelligence (AI) projects won’t deliver. This means that amongst 20 artificial intelligence projects, three will succeed – leaving 17 falling short. According to Gartner, these projects are doomed due to bias in data, algorithms or the teams responsible for managing them.

Unfortunately, the world is littered with failed AI and machine learning (ML) projects. It is easy for businesses to lose sight of the big picture in the midst of the nitty-gritty. Like any project, failed AI ventures have large cost implications alongside the high risk of reputational damage. In the same way that oil runs an engine, the fuel for AI and ML solutions is the data that feeds through it and the people that run it. Without the right quality or quantity of data, these technologies can’t do their jobs properly, or worse, become destructive due to inaccurate or harmful decision-making. Without the right quality of people and partners, the solution won’t scale and processes remain stagnant.

Strategic partnerships are the key to a successful AI project.
Strategic partnerships are the key to a successful AI project

Overcoming barriers through partnerships

Throughout the years, meldCX have been fortunate to head a number of successful AI projects, the most recent being our Concept SALi done in collaboration with Australia Post. Short for Smart Automated Lodgement API, Concept SALi is a self-service kiosk that uses ML and computer vision technology to scan and detect parcels - verifying its size, weight, handwritten information, the sender’s identity, and shipping cost automatically. This would take the guesswork, manual entry and complexity out of shipping a parcel for customers and front of house staff in post offices.

This project involved a wide variety of teams, both working locally and remote across our Australian, Philippines and Taiwan offices - from industrial designers and hardware engineers, to software engineers, developers and UX/UI designers. Even though we’ve managed to achieve so much, this wasn’t a small feat. We owe our success largely to our close collaboration with strategic partners:

1. Microsoft - In the Microsoft Azure ecosystem, we use services in the IoT Hub such as Cognitive Services (Vision & Language) and IoT edge vision. Thanks to these technologies, our remote Dev Team was able to stand up an Azure machine learning solution in as little as two weeks.

2. Intel - We worked together with Intel, utilising a combination of Intel technologies to power advance AI algorithms, including Intel Core i5 processors, Intel RealSense Depth Camera D435 for powerful image processing and depth perception, Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 for added performance boost, and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit for AI optimisation and deployment.

As a Microsoft Partner, an Intel Solutions Alliance Member, we’ve worked with them on a previous machine learning model, which served as building blocks for Concept SALi. Utilising Azure and Intel technologies on the SALi project lowered barriers of entry (e.g. for data migration), resulting in a shortened time to value.

3. Australia Post. One thing we love at meldCX is being able to drive greenfield and lighthouse projects together with customers. It was amazing to work with the talented team at Australia Post who had intimate knowledge of the problem statement, wanted to drive innovation for the business and change the paradigm using AI. This was a challenge we collectively accepted and worked as a team with great success.  

Building on each other’s strengths

Building an effective ecosystem of partners becomes a fundamental part of a successful AI journey. Just as the saying by Hellen Keller goes, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

The relationship aspect is increasingly important for technology suppliers in the current phase of the IoT market. In conditions where everyone is learning as quickly as they can, there are moments where not everything will go as planned. Trust is the foundation of a successful partnership. Assembling a core team that are aware of each other’s capabilities, knowledge and resources become key.

To achieve enduring traction and replicate successes, these relationships need to be continuously grown and built. By leveraging each other’s strengths, everyone wins.

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