More and more, companies are jumping on board the train to new and innovative developments. New technologies like artificial intelligence have improved customer service and optimized routine processes and tasks. So, how can artificial intelligence benefit your company? This week, Product Talk host and Universal Electronics Sr. Director of Product, Nikki Ahmadi, interviews YegaTech CEO Mehdi Nourbakhsh on real use cases of artificial intelligence and how it can help product development.

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On the process of innovation

Every good idea starts with a thought. And then, the idea grows into a plan, and finally (in our case) into a product. Artificial intelligence has the potential to reshape the innovation process and optimize company processes. But how do companies go through the process of innovation and development? Here is what Mehdi had to say about the innovation process: 

“So, it starts from the ponder phase, where we look into the either three to five years ahead of the company. Or, we look into the current business problems that we have. And we define small projects that can bring a ton of value to the company.” 

“Once we define these potential project areas, then we look into how we can solve them and how and how difficult it is to solve these problems. And we go through a prioritization exercise. We look into projects that are extremely important for the company, and also not very difficult to do.”

“Next, we go to the invent phase. And the goal of the invention phase is to de-risk the technical feasibility of the solution. So, we go through agile experimentation. We create different prototypes for each of the projects that were defined and really test them, evaluate them, and redo them. So, our assumptions are aligned with what is actually possible.”

“The next phase is the innovation phase. We will look into the business viability. In the beginning, we selected projects that bring a 10x return on investment. But does this solution really bring that amount of ROI? So. we test that out in the innovation phase. And if everything is aligned, we will scale that.”

On real use cases of artificial intelligence

You may be wondering, how can artificial intelligence benefit my company? Many product leaders around the world are implementing artificial intelligence in order to improve customer experience, predict outcomes, and increase productivity. Artificial intelligence is quickly becoming an essential part of everyday life. Check out these real use cases of artificial intelligence:

“So, we designed an AI solution where the architect could just sketch the high-level design. This is where the hallway is, this is the area for cubicles, and this is the area for conference rooms. So, the architect could sit with the owner and just sketch that design at a very high level.” 

“An AI was filling the rest of the design with furniture. After 10 to 15 minutes of going back and forth between the owner and the designer, they could just simply push a button and the 3D model would be generated from that design.” 

“This is how AI can help us today to bridge the gap, the communication gap between the designers and the owners of the building. And this is how you can enable us to do better designs in a shorter time.”

On the challenges of artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is still an emerging technology, and there are some challenges. Many people are not clear on the specifics of what AI can and cannot do. And that often leads to confusion and mistakes in execution. Product managers need to understand how exactly artificial intelligence works if they want it to benefit their customers and the company. These are some of the challenges of artificial intelligence:

“Artificial intelligence is just a tool. It’s a very powerful tool. It’s a very underutilized tool in design and construction. But at the end of the day, it is just a tool. Because it’s an emerging technology it is very difficult for lots of executives to really understand what it is and what it can or cannot do.” 

“The challenge that I’ve seen in our industry is that a lot of people are talking about AI and some of the executives even try to create AI and data strategy. But even people that are in the same room trying to create that strategy don’t have the same understanding of what the technology is and what it can or cannot do. That brings a lot of miscommunications in the work that we’re doing with our clients.” 

“I started capturing why some projects are successful and why some other projects are not. And I try to document that and help the industry to have a starting point. And that’s why I wrote my book, Augmented, really trying to help to move beyond what was possible yesterday.”

On a good foundation for AI strategy

No matter what your product may be, it is important to have good strategies and roadmaps. This is especially important for artificial intelligence. Because it is an emerging technology, PMs and founders need to be clear on what it can do and how they can use it. It is important to seek education, experiment with artificial intelligence, and define your strategy. This is how to make an AI strategy:

“I always said that the starting point of having a perfect AI strategy is education. You got to make sure that you and your team, your company, you all have the same understanding of what AI is, what it can do, and more importantly, what it cannot do.”

“If you have a strategy that nobody can execute, that’s also not a very good approach to have. So, after education, it is all about now experimentation. If you haven’t done any AI project before, let’s start with experimenting.”

So, solving the experimentation, define an AI project. Then, think about how you can now define a strategy and scale that across your organization. So it’s like you’re taking steps into creating a strategy. And it starts from education, experimentation, and then goes into defining a strategy.”

About the speaker
Mehdi Nourbakhsh YegaTech, CEO Member

Mehdi Nourbakhsh, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, and CEO of YegaTech, a technology consulting company in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. With a decade of experience in the research and development of innovative AI solutions in the AEC and manufacturing industry at YegaTech, Autodesk, and Georgia Institute of Technology, Mehdi brings a unique perspective to this space. He has led and advised on several AI solutions that are used by tens of thousands of AEC and manufacturing professionals every day, has filed seven US patents on the use of artificial intelligence in the AEC and manufacturing industries, and served as a member of the technical advisory committee of the Center of Integrated Facility Engineering at Stanford University. In his new book written for AEC innovators and professionals, Augment It: How Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Leaders Leverage Data and Artificial Intelligence to Build a Sustainable Future, Mehdi explains how AEC experts can invent, innovate, and augment their capabilities using AI.

About the host
Nikki Ahmadi Universal Electronics, Director of Product - Cloud & Software

Nikki is a cloud and software product Director who works with a global team of talented engineers and architects in designing and implementing innovative solutions from product inception to production. After spending over a decade working in product engineering and management for multimillion dollar technology and start-up companies, Nikki believes what truly drives innovation is not only a commitment to technological breakthroughs but also people’s passion in improving everyday lives by building products that leave a lasting impact, disrupt the industry, and are vehicles of change, while providing the best user experience. When Nikki isn’t working on her next big product release or entrepreneurial endeavors she is spending much needed time with friends and family discussing the latest politics, or simply the meaning of life. She’s an adventurous traveler who also enjoys capturing moments through photography. Nikki also holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering , M.S. in Electrical Engineering and has a corporate innovation certificate as part of the LEAD program.

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