Significant advancements in ai and ML have created major buzz in the media, leading many businesses to adopt the technology within their own operations. Basil Bouraropoulos, CEO and Co-founder of Stradigi ai, says that the first step to successful AI adoption is education at the executive level.

Mediaplanet: Why do you think AI and ML have been receiving so much media coverage over the past few years?

Basil Bouraropoulos: All of the ingredients required for AI growth are coming together. The infrastructure — whether in cloud computing, processing power, academia, governmental support, the private sector or global VC funding — is leading us to a sustainable growth story. That, combined with a shift from theoretical to practical applications of AI technology, creates a storyline that the media can’t ignore. It’s not about how AI can change the world, but how it already is.

MP: What kind of values can AI implementation bring to Canadian businesses looking to start their digital transformation?

BB: AI solutions can accelerate growth, improve the bottom line, and poise a business for growth. For early adopters with a proactive strategy, there’s tremendous opportunity to drive profit, improve margins, and elevate their position to become more competitive both within Canada and on a global scale.

MP: What are some common barriers preventing business leaders from understanding the value of AI?

BB: A barrier that can present itself in the early stages, or with a potential client who is just learning about AI, is understanding how an AI solution can be implemented within a business. Secondly, once the AI solution is embedded within the operations, stakeholders must be prepared to train their staff, enabling them to onboard, utilize, and monitor the AI technology. Finally, since AI solutions use existing data, clean, high-quality data is not always readily available, which can act as a barrier for adoption. Implementing AI requires agility, flexibility, and a forward-thinking approach from leadership, and with this in place, a business can be dramatically transformed for the better.

MP: How can Canadian business leaders ensure they are getting the right AI solution for their needs?

BB: First, it’s important to approach the process as scientifically and data-driven as possible in order to develop a structured, measured approach. When we’re working with a client, we start with a rigorous project assessment process to ensure we can accurately gauge the potential of the project. Further, it’s critical to choose the correct partner to help shepherd the onboarding, implementation, and monitoring of the AI solution to achieve business needs.

MP: What kind of education and training programs are available for executives looking to strengthen their understanding of AI technology?

BB: There are many certifications, seminars, and courses available for executives to learn about, and be able to deep dive into multiple topics within AI. The Vector Institute in Toronto and IVADO in Montreal both offer a variety of workshops. It depends on your awareness and how deep you’d like to go. Across Canada, there are workshops and events happening on a very regular basis — so I encourage those interested to get involved in the conversation and be a part of the community.

MP: What would be your biggest piece of advice for aspiring AI talent in Canada?

BB: There’s never been a better time to be working in AI and Canada is making a name for itself on the international scene. Montreal is home to many amazing AI start-ups. The city hosted the NeurIPS 2018 conference recently and is a globally renowned AI hub. For aspiring AI talent, I would recommend that you connect with local AI communities, collaborate within the ecosystems, and gain as many contacts as possible. There’s an awesome ecosystem happening within Canadian AI and tremendous opportunity for growth.