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Omnicom Public Relations Group Launches AI Impact Group to Help Companies Navigate Reputational Challenges Related to Artificial Intelligence

New, specialized consultancy will focus on assessing and mitigating threats to brand reputation related to the transformational changes on the horizon caused by artificial intelligence (AI)

Omnicom Public Relations Group (OPRG) announced the launch of the AI Impact Group, a specialized consultancy that helps clients assess and mitigate the risks to brand reputation arising from the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The launch of the AI Impact Group coincides with the release of the first comprehensive AI Risk Index, which integrates several layers of research to identify and score the reputational risk of industries and companies adopting AI.

The AI Impact Group will offer strategic consulting engagements to assess the communications challenges, brand vulnerabilities and other internal and external risks associated with a company’s adoption of AI. The cross-agency team can apply robust research and advanced analytics to create proprietary reputation-focused risk assessments for any company deploying AI. Armed with research and a deep knowledge of AI across a variety of industry sectors, the Group’s consultants and communications experts can also craft a tailored AI Roadmap for any business.

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Led by Andrew Koneschusky, partner at CLS Strategies, the AI Impact Group fuses the collective experience and subject matter expertise of several OPRG agencies: CLS Strategies, FleishmanHillardKetchumMaslansky + PartnersPorter Novelli and VOX Global. The group is fueled by a passion for technology, deep understanding of the perceptions of AI and world-class capabilities to meet any communications challenge.

“We are in the midst of the biggest technological change in recent history,” said Koneschusky. “Companies that plan for AI and communicate effectively around it will be well positioned to take advantage of the many benefits the technology brings, including cost savings, improved customer service, rich data insights and other efficiencies. On the other hand, there are serious consequences for those who blindly chase the benefits of AI without understanding the risks. We are already seeing examples of backlash against AI, and the technology is still in its infancy.”

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“AI and machine learning present many exciting opportunities that organizations will want to consider and take advantage of – now and into the future. At the same time, these developments represent a new and relatively unexplored threat to brand reputation, and many companies and brands aren’t sure how to assess their risk,” said Karen van Bergen, chief executive officer, Omnicom Public Relations Group. “The AI Impact Group brings together top AI talent from across OPRG communications agencies, delivering a seamless, specialty solution to clients who need to equip themselves for AI’s future. We’re proud to bring this first-of-its-kind offering to market and look forward to helping our clients navigate this uncharted territory and set themselves up for success when it comes to AI.”

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on AI will reach $57.6 billion by 2021 – more than quadruple the $12 billion spent in 2017. As businesses large and small make significant investments in AI and race to embrace its benefits, they need to assess and plan for the risks lurking in the shadows. Given the massive changes afoot, Forrester Research, in a November 2017 report on AI-enabled automation, recommended that companies invest in change management internally and PR externally.

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To coincide with the launch, the AI Impact Group has released topline findings from its first comprehensive AI Risk Index. This initial index is focused on the retail, manufacturing and transportation industries; future studies will examine other industries. The inaugural study quantifies a brand’s risk based on the company’s positioning related to AI and the perceptions of various stakeholders – consumers, industry employees, policymakers, activists and industry analysts. It also provides guidance to help business leaders understand where top companies are performing best and where those at risk of falling behind are failing. Scores range from 0 to 100, where 0 indicates less risk preparedness and 100 indicates higher risk preparedness.

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Overall, the study data revealed that while some industries and companies have less reputational risk than others, no industry or company is fully prepared for the transformational changes on the horizon. AI poses serious risks for all three industries studied—and even the most forward-thinking technology companies still have work to do.

The retail industry is the least prepared for the impacts from AI, earning the lowest overall industry score of 44.0, followed by the manufacturing industry at 49.3 and transportation industry at 55.3. Within each industry there is considerable variation amongst companies:

  • Retail: the company least prepared for the risk earned a 27.9, the most prepared for the risk a 52.6
  • Manufacturing: the company least prepared for the risk earned a 33.3, the most prepared for the risk a 62.0
  • Transportation: the company least prepared for the risk earned a 37.7, the most prepared for the risk a 68.8

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