[Column] Christopher Saul: Kenya’s AI revolution can happen with the IT you already have
Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to become the most prolific and impactful technology trend in the world today. Its adoption by businesses has more than doubled since 2017, with the average number of AI capabilities organisations use also increasing.
It’s a trend Kenya is starting to embrace. Kenya has been ranked fifth in Africa on the government’s readiness to incorporate AI in public service delivery. The country is also home to several promising startups that are transforming industries with AI-powered solutions, ranging from healthcare platforms that offer real-time diagnostic capabilities to e-commerce platforms that let businesses interact with customers via instant messaging.
Investing in AI doesn’t mean Kenyan enterprises need to abandon other tech projects or digital transformation efforts and start over. Enterprises can unlock its power using the IT infrastructure and systems they already have. All it takes is the right scalable solutions, serving as a foundation for innovation, leading to improved business performance and efficiencies.
A means to optimise business
Industry experts are encouraging Kenyan firms to tap into AI’s full potential to improve customer experience and achieve productivity gains. African countries can use the tech to automate various processes regardless of sector, be it commerce, healthcare, or education. But what exactly can these technologies achieve?
There's more to AI than ChatGPT. Enterprises can use AI to create completely new products and services. AI can automate manual and repetitive business tasks such as data entry, and even more complicated tasks such as drafting communication documents and summarising reports. From an employee perspective, AI can assist by guiding staff through business processes, and provide hands-on experience in areas such as coding and software engineering.
At a fundamental level, AI is a means to optimise a business and, importantly, the data it gathers, processes, and relies on. Using algorithms and data modelling, AI applications can transform data into actionable insights, letting businesses alleviate operational bottlenecks, develop new products in response to market trends, and automate tasks that then allow business resources to be allocated elsewhere.
This applies to almost any industry in Kenya. For example, in healthcare, AI-based applications can assist in predicting outcomes based on patient medical records, simplify interactions between patients and healthcare providers, and even assist in criminal activity and fraud detection like evaluating and flagging false insurance claims.
AI For The Win
Enterprises may find the prospect of AI intimidating for a number of reasons, but chief among them is concern about integrating new technologies into existing frameworks and environments. We are still in the early days of what’s possible with AI, which is why organisations can't put their current IT and infrastructure requirements on hold for AI.
As more Kenyan enterprises turn to cloud platforms for their workloads and applications, they can lay a firm foundation for building AI-ready and enabling environments. Partnering technologies such as open source containers and Kubernetes DevOps make this even more possible, with containers ensuring standardisation across environments – a key factor in operational and development efficiency.
Enterprise AI should build on the existing reality of containerisation, letting organisations scale AI-enabled applications and services across the business and during the entire life cycle, from development to production. Applications can be developed in one environment (e.g., public cloud) and deployed in another with the same tooling and interfaces. This improves collaboration across the business, giving departments and teams the space to take the enterprise forward into the future.
Exploring new technological possibilities will always require the correct tools, knowledge, and resources, but it all starts with the right mindset and approach. Kenyan enterprises should work with their technology and software vendors to take the first step, procuring the essential infrastructure that empowers them to leverage the power of AI.