For the next interview in our series speaking to AI leaders from around the world, we’ve welcomed experienced AI Specialist Speaker, Monish Gandhi of Gradient Ascent.
Tell us about the business you represent - what are their vision & goals? What motivates you today?
I’m the Founder & CEO of Gradient Ascent. Our vision is to figure out how we can assist all businesses in thriving, growing, and succeeding in an AI-powered world. Our vision and goals are rooted in our belief that eventually, AI will impact all jobs, businesses, processes, and people.
This transition isn’t easy, and that is why we help customers wherever they are in their AI journey. All businesses are destined to become AI businesses, and we are on a mission to help them get there because this technology is too important to be in just a few hands. It should not just be large enterprises benefiting from AI.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and how you got into the field of artificial intelligence?
I’ve always been passionate about AI and have always believed in the power of this technology. It can really unlock human potential. When I was still studying engineering over 10 years ago, I was already interested in AI and even built an algorithm to help players get better at pool.
I have since had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries: manufacturing, aerospace, and telecom; and have some experience at Microsoft as well. What has always been a passion of mine is using math to solve problems, which is the basis for AI solving business challenges.
Five years ago, I founded Gradient Ascent. I have since been dedicated to ensuring that everyone - not just tech giants - has access to the benefits of AI. I can now say with confidence that I am doing something I truly enjoy, and I can share my enthusiasm to help others succeed.
What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like at Gradient Ascent?
I provide overall guidance and collaborate closely with my team. We are always thinking about how we can help our clients win in this AI world. We work closely with them in terms of enhancing their business, solving their problems, and giving them AI-powered solutions.
Of course, my day also includes a myriad of miscellaneous tasks, not all of which are glamorous. But it is all the more important to carry these tasks out to ensure that we can keep working towards our goals and making real, impactful progress with our mission. We are deeply committed to falling in love with the problem, caring deeply, and sharing our expertise with clients to help them become AI companies themselves.
Can you share some of the proudest achievements you’ve experienced in your career?
It goes without saying that I am incredibly proud to be the Founder of a self-funded, fast-growing company. However, it has been the steps since then that I’m prouder of: hiring my first team member, securing my first customer... These milestones serve as great reminders that there are people who share our belief in AI for good
What are the most significant changes you expect to see in business due to AI?
We firmly believe that all companies will become AI companies. There will be a need for AI competency and fluency within organizations. This can be done by directly building data and AI teams in-house, or by working with external teams like ours that act as your trusted partners throughout your AI journey. I also expect that there will be a more widespread understanding from businesses about the need for them to adopt AI if they want to remain competitive.
Which industries and processes do you see as the greatest opportunities for applying artificial intelligence?
Virtually all industries will be affected by and can benefit from artificial intelligence. This technology has many benefits - from innovation to automation. It is more a question of which application is most appropriate for the process or the organization. There are opportunities there for everyone, but the determining factor is whether organizations are prepared to adopt the technology.
AI is fundamentally different from other software development. It is more unpredictable and uncertain, thus requiring a different kind of preparation. In order to make the most of opportunities for AI application, companies need to get ready for AI properly.
What are some of the biggest challenges companies face on their journey to adopt AI?
On 100% of the projects we’ve worked on, data has been a problem. We urge all leaders and organizations to start getting your data houses in order if AI is even a fragment of a thought in your business plans. It’s never too early to start making strategic efforts to collect, retain, and leverage company data.
What we’ve seen in the nearly 50 projects we’ve worked on is that the challenges companies face when forging ahead with AI are ultimately rooted in a misunderstanding of what the technology is and what it can do for you. The challenge is that while most people know about AI, they don’t really understand it. Misinformation spreads fast because what’s most commonly known about AI is from media and movies.
It takes time to cultivate the right dataset, skillset, and mindset for AI, which leads to a longer discovery phase. This is why we make a point of integrating education and coaching into our engagements – not just for stakeholders but the entire organization.