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Data Artificial Intelligence The dynamic duo of tech

Calgary Economic Development released a study in November 2020 detailing the opportunity Calgary has to be a leader in data analytics, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the global stage. This article is one of a series of stories about the study.

Data, data, data.

It’s everywhere we look, particularly in Calgary’s high-tech landscape. As more industries and economies digitize their operations, the value of data in deciphering current business priorities and predicting future ones is climbing up the list of crucial business assets.

Add artificial intelligence (AI) into the equation, and data becomes even more valuable – more than we could have ever imagined.

In just 10 years, 70 per cent of companies worldwide will have adopted some form of AI in their operations - and it makes sense. AI enables companies to analyze their data at breadths, depths, and efficiencies we could not have fathomed possible.

Artificial intelligence and its application through Machine Learning (ML) are key elements part of the fast-emerging digital transformation of our economy. They are complex processes that incorporate and apply Big Data to problems and allow companies to be more predictive, more productive and, ultimately, more profitable.

It’s been widely stated that data is similar to energy – absolutely essential to a functioning economy. Calgarians have been working with both for decades. 

Being a well-established energy city, Calgary has obvious advantages in business intelligence systems related to that industry. In fact, it is forward-thinking businesses in Calgary that took an early lead in exactly that - using data and intelligent systems to assess business priorities and enhance decision making at energy companies. Now others are following suit.

But how exactly are companies taking huge sets of data made up of millions of numbers and jungles of words and turning it into something that could transform business operations in Calgary and beyond? Data analytics encompasses the gathering of historical, current, predictive, and prescriptive information, for four main reasons:

  • Greater awareness - data collection and data cleaning, determining what data is already available.
  • Better understanding - descriptive data analytics and visualization, defining usefulness of said data.
  • Deeper analysis - forecasting and prescription of actionable steps, understanding what the relationships between said data means for the company in the future.
  • Efficient decision making - supporting change behaviour, decision making, and actualizing estimated benefits through autonomous systems machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In short, data helps companies understand their business and industry, and there are some strong examples of Calgary companies excelling at leveraging emerging technologies to provide more extensive data analysis.

Take Envio Systems, a Calgary building management company, that is collecting a mix of historic and live data to reduce excess energy consumption. Then there’s CMO4HIRE, using its software to provide clients with predictive analytics algorithms to optimize sales and marketing results.

While Calgary was quick to adopt this smart approach, it’s crucial our data and AI ecosystem continues to keep up with the pace and to do so, there are five areas we need to address:

  • Talent: Skilled talent must be recruited, and companies need to focus on upskilling their workforce to capture the full potential of data and AI.
  • Financing: With the rapidly changing technology landscape, there continues to be tremendous opportunities for investment in emerging, local technology companies - but investors must realize that digital commercialization takes time and patience.
  • Scaling: To better tackle the challenge of market penetration, large or established companies should work with startups to streamline due diligence processes and support pilot projects.
  • IP Ownership: Legal barriers and grey areas are a key problem for startups trying to go-to-market and attract investors. The mission to refine IP law suitable to high-tech environments is global, and Canada can look to the EU, Japan, and Singapore for examples of legal systems and precedents related to AI and Machine Learning-related innovations.
  • Collaboration: Greater alignment of efforts and resources are needed within Calgary’s digital-tech ecosystem, which should help reduce red tape, increase infrastructure investment, and improve talent development and retention.

The rise of big data and analytics is one of the most significant technology trends in Canada over the past several years, and Calgary companies have and are continuing to be successful in the application of artificial intelligence, big data, and IoT in energy, cleantech, healthcare, and more.

But as the adoption of these processes grows and data analytics becomes smarter every day, it’s key that Calgary keeps up with momentum.

After all, data really is power.

You can find our full report, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence in Calgary, on our website

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