Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

AI is one of the most popular talked about technologies today. For business, this technology introduces capabilities that innovative business and technology leadership can utilise to introduce new dimensions and abilities within service and product design and delivery.

Unfortunately, a lot of the real business value is locked up behind the terminology hype, inflated expectations and insecure warnings of machine control.

It is impossible to get the value from something that is not understood. So lets cut through the hype and focus to understand AI’s objectives and the key capabilities that this exciting technology enables.

There are many definitions of AI as discussed in the blog post “What is Artificial Intelligence: Definitions“.

Keeping it simple: “AI is using computers to do things that normally would have required human intelligence.” With this definition in mind, there are basically three things that AI is aiming to achieve.

3 AI Objectives

  • Capturing Information
  • Determine what is happening
  • Understand why it is happening

Lets use an example to demonstrate this…

As humans we are constantly gathering data through our senses which is converted by our brain into information which is interpreted for understanding and potential action. You can for example identify an object through site, turn it into information and identify the object instantly as, for example, a lion. In conjunction, additional data associated with the object at the present time, for example the lion is running after a person yelling for help, enables us to identify danger and to take immediate action…

For a machine, this process is very complex and requires large amounts of data, programming/training and processing power. Today, technology is so advanced that small computers like smart phones can capture a photo, identify a face and link it to a name. This is achieved not just through the power the smart phone but through the capabilities of AI, made available through services like facebook supported by an IT platform including, a fast internet connection, cloud computing power and storage.

To determine what is happening the machine might use Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to extract the words from a sound file and try to determine meaning or intent, hence working out that the person is running away from a lion and shouting for you to run away as well.

Why the lion is chasing and why the person is running away, is not known by the machine. Although the machine can capture information and determine what is happening, it does not understand why it is happening within full context – it is merely processing data. This reasoning ability, to bring understanding to a situation, is something that the human brain does very well.

Dispite all the technological advancements, can machines today only achieve the first two of the thee AI objectives. With this in mind, let’s explore the eight AI capabilities relevant and ready for use, today.

8 AI Capabilities


  • Capturing Information
    • 1. Image Recognition
    • 2. Speech Recognition
    • 3. Data Search
    • 4. Data Patterns
  • Determine what is happening
    • 5. Language Understanding
    • 6. Thought/Decision Process
    • 7. Prediction
  • Understand why it is happening
    • 8. Understanding

1. Image Recognition

This is the capability for a machine to identify/recognise an image. This is based on Machine Learning and requires millions of images to train the machine requiring lots of storage and fast processing power.

2. Speech Recognition

The machine takes a sound file and encodes it into text.

3. Search

The machine identifies words or sentences which are matched with relevant content within a large about of data. Once these word matches are found it can trigger further AI capabilities.

4. Patterns

Machines can process and spot patterns in large amounts of data which can be combinations of sound, image or text. This surpasses the capability of humans, literally seeing the woods from the trees.

5. Language Understanding

The AI capability to understand human language is called Natural Language Understanding or NLU.

6. Thought/Decision Processing

Knowledge Maps connects concepts (i.e. person, vehicle) with instances (i.e. John, BMW) and relationships (i.e. favourite vehicle). Varying different relationships by weight and/or probabilities of likelihood cn fine tune the system to make recommendations when interacted with. Knowledge Maps are not decision trees as the entry point of interaction can be at any point within the knowledge map as long as a clear goal has been defined (i.e. What is John’s favourite vehicle?)

7. Prediction

Predictive analytics is not a new concept and the AI prediction capability basically takes a view on historic data patterns and matches it with a new piece of data to predict a similar outcome based on the past.

8. Understanding

Falling under the third objective of AI – Understand what is happening, this capability is not currently commercially available.

To Conclude

In understanding the capabilities of AI you can now look beyond the hype, be realistic and identify which AI capabilities are right to enhance your business.

In a future blog post, we’ll examine some real live examples of how these AI capabilities can be used to bring business value.

Also read:



“Creating value”; “delivering value”; “the value proposition”; “focus on value, not cost”; “price is a reflection of value” – just a few of the statements we are using on a daily basis.

But what is value?

Value comes in different forms and types and can be different for a business, it’s shareholders, clients/customers, suppliers, employees. For example: A business might define value in recurring business and it’s loyal customers; the Board might value the increase in assets on the balance sheet; Shareholders define value in the profitability of the business that convert into dividend payments or an increase in the share price; Suppliers sees value in market penetration;  Employees perceive value in an inviting work environment, culture, recognition and benefits received from their employer.

In previous posts, we covered “how to build a compelling value proposition” and what is “your value proposition“. Value was associated with what you offer (sell) into a buying market – a product or service that addresses a specific need and is of value in a commercial world. “Remember – you define your value proposition, but it’s true value is in the eyes of the beholder – your customer.”

So you are creating value for your customers in solving a specific problem or providing to a specific need in a way that makes your product of service desirable. So when you want to describe your value, it is important to think about the customer’s need first. Being customer centric in your product or service design ensures your business is aligned to deliver to a specific customer (market) need, in a profitable way – value to the customer drives business results in revenue. Excellent customer service ensures recurring customers, customer retention means future revenue growth. Satisfied customers talk about your product and service which brings revenue growth. Thus focussing on the customer value first will lead to the other types of value, as mentioned above.

But how can you define value for your customers? Well, by simply asking if your product or service helps the customer to:

  • make their life easier or better?
  • save them time?
  • save or make them money?
  • be happier?
  • be more positive?
  • be healthy?
  • be more productive?
  • improve their effectiveness and/or efficiency?
  • achieve their goals and objectives?
  • build relationships?
  • make more friends?
  • get more customers?
  • etc…?

Place yourself in your customer’s shoes – be a customer to your own product and service. How does it make you feel? Does it help you – in what way? Use the answers to these questions to continuously improve your value.

Action: Have a look at your value chain and identify how the different processes, teams and people, add value in different ways and how these combine, to focus your value proposition onto the customer.


Related Posts:

NED :: Non-Executive Director’s proposition

Are you aware of the substantive and measurable value a Non-Executive Director can bring to you and your business…?


The Non-Executive Director, no longer a role that is associated just with large organisations. There is a growing awareness of the NED role and more and more organisations are appointing NEDs of various types, and specific specialities, often within technology and digital transformation, to enhance the effectiveness of their boards as standard practise.

With the pressure on organisations to compete globally, deal with digital transformation and respond to rapidly changing market conditions, new skills are needed at board level. This leads to the role of the NED diversifying and introduces a need to refresh the NEDs as circumstances change, bringing in new specialities, experience and challenge when the organisation needs it.

A good NED can, and should make a substantive and measurable contribution to the effectiveness of the board. Do not see a NED as a consulting advisor – a NED, within the remit of the role of a company director, play a full and active part in the success efforts of an organisation. Irrespective of the skills, experience and network contacts that NEDs will bring, they must above all, provide appropriate independent and constructive challenge to the board.

Both the organisation and the NED must understand the purpose of being a NED, within the specific organisation, for the role to be effective. This includes a clear understanding of what value the NED is expected to bring. A NED’s value goes beyond just the statutory requirements.

On appointment a Non-executive director can:

  • Broaden the horizons and experience of existing executive directors.
  • Facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, particularly in terms of business strategy and planning.
  • Have a vital part to play in appraising and commenting on a company’s investment/expenditure plans.
  • Bring wisdom, perspective, contacts and credibility to your business.
  • Be the lighthouse that helps you find your way and steer clear of near and present dangers.

The role of the NED

All directors, including NEDs, are required to:

  • provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company
  • set the company’s vision, strategy and strategic objectives
  • set the company’s values and standards
  • ensure that its obligations to its shareholders and others are understood and met.

In addition, the role of the NED has the following key elements:

  • Strategy: NEDs should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.
  • Performance: NEDs should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance.
  • Risk: NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
  • People: NEDs are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors, and in succession planning.

“In broad terms, the role of the NED, under the leadership of the chairman, is: to ensure that there is an effective executive team in place; to participate actively in the decision–takingprocess of the board; and to exercise appropriate oversight over execution of the agreed strategy by the executive team.”; Walker Report, 2009


A non-executive director will bring the follow benefits to your company:

  • strengthen the board and provide an independent viewpoint
  • contribute to the creation of a sound business plan, policy and strategy
  • review plans and budgets that will implement policy and strategy
  • be a confidential and trusted sounding board for the MD/CEO and keep the focus of the MD/CEO
  • have the experience to objectively assess the company’s overall performance
  • have the experience and confidence to stand firm when he or she believes the executive directors are acting in an inappropriate manner
  • ensure good corporate governance
  • provide outside experience of the workings of other companies and industries, and have beneficial sector contacts and experience gained in previous businesses
  • have the ability to clearly communicate with fellow directors
  • have the ability to gain the respect of the other directors
  • possess the tact and skill to work with the executive directors, providing support and encouragement where difficult decisions are being made
  • have contacts with third parties such as financial sources, grant providers and potential clients

Looking for a NED?

Now that you understand what a NED can do – What are you waiting for?

Contact Renier Botha if you are looking for an experienced director with strong technology and digital transformation skills.

Renier has demonstrable success in developing and delivering visionary business & technology strategies. His experience include Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), major capital projects, growth, governance, compliance, risk management as well as business and organisation development. From startup to FTSE listed enterprise, the value Renier can bring as NED is substantive, driving business growth.

Your Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition

Being in business means that you have something of value for sale, that is desired by someone else who is buying. Being in business isn’t just about running your own business, it also means that you are working within a commercial workplace where goods or services of value are being sold and delivered to a customer who is buying. These customers can be external to the business for example selling products and services to another business or to the public, or these customers can be internal if it is delivering value to another department or to your colleagues within the organisation or your workplace. Apart from providing your services to the customers, other people also benefit from your deliverables. These people are stakeholders and they can include your business partner, the board of directors, your manager or team leader, your team, the shareholders or even other businesses for example your vendors and suppliers who would all benefit from your success.

Even if you are not running your own business and are working for an organisation to earn your living, you are in business – the business of selling your own skills, experience and knowledge, which is of value to the company you are working for, in exchange for a salary or wages. The organisation hiring you is in essence your customer.

To be successful in business it is clear that you need to have something of value. Something of value means you have a defined product or services (skills, knowledge and experience) and a market with customers who value what you have on offer and are willing to exchange it for money. The customer must be aware of your product or service and more so must understand its value, before they will engage and buy. Creating this customer awareness is done through marketing, which is dependent on a clear definition of the product and it’s value to the target audience (the customers). This value definition is your value proposition.

Remember – you define your value proposition, but it’s true value is in the eyes of the beholder – your customer. Ultimately it is the benefits that your product and service bring to the customer that defines it’s value.

The value proposition is the backbone of the business – everything what your business is about evolves around delivering and continuously improving the value proposition. To gain new customers and to keep current customers and stakeholders involved and happy, you need to be crystal clear of your well defined value proposition.

Having a look at the value proposition examples of some of most successful companies like Uber, Apple, Slack, Digit, reveals that a good value proposition includes four elements:

  • Need
  • Approach
  • Benefits
  • Competition

Need – understand what your customer really wants, what do they need, what problems are they looking to solve. This is probably the most important part of the value proposition as without understanding the need, you’ll find it hard to define the solution (the product or services) that will satisfy the customers need in such a desirable way, that they are willing to spend money to get it.

Approach – having a solution to the customer’s need, your approach explains how you go about applying your solution (product or service) to satisfy the customer need – how the solution will solve their problem. The solution must be a direct fix for the problem. The approach you choose in delivering your solution must be the most effective means to apply your solution to the specific problem or customer need. Your approach will consist if specific components i.e. methodologies, solution architecture, prototyping, processes, templates, standards, etc, selected specifically to optimise the success in applying the solution (product or service) to the customer’s problem (need).

Benefits – focussed on the customer, what benefits would they get from using your services or products. Back to defining what value will you bring to the life of the customers when they are using your product or receiving your service. To understand this, you have to understand how the customer experiences your offering, answering fundamental questions like: “How much does this cost?”; and “Is the benefits worth the price?”. Benefits are tangible and measurable – usually in monetary terms. Benefits are not just ideas. Define the benefit in the terms the customer will relate to. Benefits should attract customers to what you offer.

Competition – what is your unique differentiator that sets you apart from your competition in the market. Again this should be approached from the customer’s perspective. How does your customer perceive your offering in relation to the other providers competing for their money. In what way does your offering differentiate from the competition i.e. quality, durability, reliability, guarantee and price.

Example: Let’s apply this to the Apple iPhone Value Proposition

Need: everyone uses smart phones – but it can be complicated to navigate. Your phone has become an accessory, and expression of your personality, a needed tool conducting our day to day lives.

Approach: Apple offers a unique user experience and design; it is not just a phone but also a lifestyle.

Benefits: Hassle free, superior operation – “It just works”. There is nothing quite like iPhone as every iPhone is built on the belief that a phone should be more than a collection of features. Exceptional design and state of the art engineering that oozes with built-in quality. Simple, elegant, beautiful and magical to use. (Just listen to their launch keynotes)

Competition: Genuinely unique iPhone features are highlighted on all marketing media i.e. security. Most of the iPhone features are not unique but experiencing the already known features on a iPhone is magical – that is what sets iPhone apart.

Using your Value Proposition

Breaking down your value proposition using the four elements mentioned above, puts you on the front foot to easily position all customer conversations towards insight and perspective of your proposition, to  the value you deliver for your customers and your stakeholders. Following through on all four elements during conversations takes the customer on a journey, a journey that makes it easier for them to relate to you and a clear holistically understanding your offering in context to the bigger picture. It also gives them the reassurance that you have the needed insight in what matters to them. Even if a prospect customer wants to focus on only one area for example the benefits aspects, you will be prepared for the engagement.

Keeping your value proposition front-mind during all customer and/or stakeholder engagements. This keeps you focussed on what’s important for business success – satisfied and happy customers.

To Conclude:

In real live you cannot predict the future, especially as you know that every situation is unique in it’s own right. In presenting your value proposition, it is your responsibility to have the agility to adapt to situations as needed, to ensure that you can validate the actual need, have reassurance that the approach will work, know that the benefits as real and that you are a competitive player in the market.

How well you can demonstrate agility in aligning the right value proposition to the customer, will determine your success in business.


Also read…

“How to Build a Compelling Business Proposition” for some valuable tips to consider in compiling value propositions.

Value!? – what is value and how do you define customer value.