Series 7 – The Rise of AI: The Perfect World or The Perfect Storm?

This four-part blog series explores the Rise of AI and highlights market dynamics that could be shaping the Perfect AI World, or creating The Perfect Storm.

This blog series concludes with strategic recommendations for Boards of Directors and C-Level Executives to reflect upon, as the world of science with deep learning algorithms spawns more rapidly than any phenomenon known to mankind.  The time for thoughtful leadership, policy and governance to ensure future generations secure productive lives, is now.

Growth of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With the explosive growth of data in our digital universe, growing at 40% a year into the next decade, smart devices connected to the Internet are rapidly becoming one ubiquitous electronic brain.

Artificial Intelligence is now of age. As business leaders increasingly grasp the immense potential of “smart” machines, the impact of the Internet of Things, and sheer volume of data growth, the digital world is now the catalyst for greater efficiency and competitiveness. At the same time, the advent of mobile, chat, and explosive interruptive forces have catastrophically impacted human ability to focus, concentrate and achieve mindfulness. The human attention span has dropped to less than 50% over the last ten years.

The overlay of concentration impacts and distractions intensity to chase the next shiny object is disconcerting. B2B Sales Productivity has dropped to global lows of less than 30% of in field customer productivity, with trillions of top line revenue being lost from 30-60% of sales professionals in the middle tier not making their sales plans. Despite investments in CRM, this statistic has been alive and well for many years.

According to IDC, by 2020, our digital world will have nearly as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe. It is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe – the data we create and copy annually – will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes. From 2013 to 2020, the digital universe will grow by a factor of 10 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion.[i]

The dollars tell a compelling story. By 2019, according to IDC, the global market for content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software is projected to reach $9.2 billion, more than double that of 2014.[ii]

AI is also the hottest area in venture equity. Start-ups are applying AI solutions to verticals like healthcare, advertising and finance as well as developing general-purpose AI tech. Their number increased nearly 6x, from roughly 70 in 2011 to nearly 400 in 2015 and is predicted to grow to over 1000 startups in AI funded by 2017.[iii]

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Growth of AI – Machine Learning and Deep Learning 

Signs of the AI boom are everywhere, with Google rumored to have paid $400M for DeepMind, a London AI based startup, or SalesForce’s recent acquisition of BeyondCore. Every company that is building software now has to push hard into augmenting core capabilities with an AI, Machine Learning or Deep Learning approach, to simply stay in the game. Deep learning is simply a modern refinement of “machine learning” in which computers teach themselves tasks by crunching large sets of data.

A paper published by Andrej Karpathy and Li Fei-Fei at Stanford University describes a computer-vision system that is able to label specific parts of a given picture. Show it a breakfast table, for instance, and it will identify the fork, the banana slices, the cup of coffee, the flowers on the table and the table itself. It will even generate descriptions, in natural English.

As this type of deep learning technology scans all the objects in our world, and as changes are made with new objects, the electronic brain simply adds in the new information with a new label. The universal all-knowing AI electronic brain is not that far off as deep learning methods will mature very rapidly.

Accenture views Artificial intelligence (AI) as a new factor of production that has the potential to introduce new sources of growth, change how work is done and reinforce the role of people to drive growth in business. Accenture research on the impact of AI in twelve developed economies reveals that AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035 by changing the nature of work and creating a new relationship between man and machine. The impact of AI technologies on business is projected to increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent and enable people to make more efficient use of their time.[iv]

According to Tech North, Canada can be a global leader in AI, which the Tech North report suggests can add $17.5-billion to our annual GDP and 170,000 new jobs by 2025.


AI is changing our world in every dimension. We are already seeing the realities of AI driverless cars from Google, computers beating experts at Chess, chat bots supporting communication messaging and content AI crawlers summarizing thousands of legal contract documents. From AI inference solutions guiding marketing or sales professionals on the buying intent of potential customers, to producing smart infrastructure for cyber security, the applications are endless.

When all these innovative solutions start to openly connect to inform one another, earth as we know it will change forever. As human ability to focus/concentrate in the Age of Distraction drops like a rocket ship, the AI Electronic Brain will inevitably co-exist with us, seamlessly guiding us everywhere.

The next blog will explore examples of the Perfect World, highlighting some of the companies using AI for disruptive innovation to help with the Cognitive Sciences and improve the distraction levels that are impacting our productivity levels.

If you want to discuss these ideas further, email us at More information on our company can be found at where we are all striving to Make Sales a Science. After all, Sales Growth Matters!


[i] The Digital Universe :IDC Report,  Internet of Things Report, April 2014.

[ii] IDC, “Worldwide Content Analytics, Discovery, and Cognitive Systems Software Forecast, 2015–2019,” Doc #256774, June 19, 2015

[iii] AI Funding Trends. CBI Insights, June 2016. Source:

[iv] Accenture Research, 2017 Source:

[v] Whats the difference between AI, ML and deep learning. Image Source: