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Very few things exist as a singularity any more. The train you take to work is made up of thousands of parts which all have been assembled in a factory; the dinner you eat is a combination of ingredients, expertly married together to create something bigger and better. And it’s the same for the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities your business is now looking to take advantage of.

AI is a deployed to solve sophisticated business problems in dynamic environments, and improve the functionality of every department from HR to logistics, operations and legal. However, like those trains, artificial intelligence doesn’t just exist as a single entity. It relies on pre-determined components, a set of building blocks that enables the technology to not only function correctly, but also scale and evolve to serve an ever-growing market.

Simply put, artificial intelligence requires machine learning; machine learning requires analytics; and analytics requires the right data and information architecture (IA). Without it, you can’t derive value or gain insights from the data you are feeding into your AI model. After all, if we take the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ mantra which has existed in computer science since the 1960s, AI models – supported by those machine learning algorithms - will likely yield weak or misleading results if they are working off data that is inaccurate, unreliable or not properly labelled.

It is why, in one MIT Sloan report, experts said that “no amount of AI algorithmic sophistication will overcome a lack of data [architecture] ... bad data is simply paralysing”, a study which also revealed eight in 10 IT leaders did not understand the data required for AI.

So ultimately without information architecture, there is no artificial intelligence.

IBM has broken down AI’s information architecture into four distinct areas: infuse, analyse, organise and collect, collectively known as the ‘AI ladder’, it outlines the increasing levels of sophisticated analytics that are needed to create a flourishing artificial intelligence environment. Starting with making data accessible, it rises up through creating a trusted data analytics foundation, scaling insights with the help of AI, and ending with the adoption of established AI technologies for specific business use cases.

Of course, organisations will naturally be at different stages of this ladder. In some cases, organisations may jump directly to the top of the ladder to adopt established AI technologies for specific user cases. However, for the majority, organisations will look to build out their AI environment by prioritising their information architecture.

The role of the CIO

It’s important for CIOs to take a strategic approach when developing an IA framework. By analysing their IT infrastructure, their data requirements and the data architecture required, they can start to untangle the complexities and create an information environment that is simpler to use, and where data is easier to find and understand.

As part of this, organisations should look to invest in what Forrester define as a SaaS Cloud Content Platform like Box which can help organisations make better, real-time decisions, while allowing all key internal and external stakeholders easy access to the data that is relevant to their individual departments as well as the wider business.

By centralising where data is stored in the cloud, not only can you remove some of the challenges that are part and parcel with being a data-driven company, it also allows organisations to develop the necessary infrastructure to support the AI building blocks as mentioned above.

In partnership with IBM Watson, Box allows businesses to leverage best-of-bread AI capabilities to bring greater value to their enterprise content. This partnership, which sees the integration of IBM Watson capabilities into Box environments, help organisations transform internal efficiencies, from modernising content management and improving contracts management to expediting how they onboard new clients. Ultimately, it’s about using AI in a centralised content platform to make smarter, intelligent business decisions.

Learn more about how Box and IBM are helping clients unlock insights and transform their businesses at the upcoming IBM Think London event on October 16.