Creating concrete business value through applied AI

Views, Services, Trade, Industry

Jonas Tulldahl, Head of Corporate Development, asserts that Artificial Intelligence, AI, presents one of the most promising business opportunities today. However, to realise its potential, AI must be actively integrated into operations rather than just talked about. Small and medium-sized businesses may find this integration challenging. To address this, Storskogen is implementing various initiatives towards making AI more accessible and beneficial for the Group companies.

Applying AI: Beyond the hype
The availability of digital data, increased computing power and developments in research are fuelling AI advancements. While machine learning and AI are not new concepts, the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2022 marked a significant turning point. New Large Language Models, LLMs, are announced on a weekly basis, pushing the boundaries of what we have believed to be the traditional role of a computer. The key question is how businesses should manage and adapt to the opportunities and threats that AI presents.

As an active owner of small and medium-sized businesses, Storskogen has an important responsibility to ensure AI is leveraged in the best possible ways, seizing opportunities to impact both the income statement and balance sheet. We are aware of how challenging it can be for smaller businesses to embrace new technologies, from understanding concepts such as machine learning, deep learning or neural networks to leveraging these technologies in traditional operations. To make AI more accessible for our business units, we provide information, training, and education, and coordinate the development of AI applications centrally in the group.

AI-powered knowledge sharing chatbot
In 2022 we launched a knowledge sharing platform called Storskogen Knowledge eXchange, KX. The first version of the platform was built on standardised and readily available technology. When we now launch the second version of the platform, we have custom-built a completely new platform from scratch, specifically suited to our needs. Employees in Storskogen Group sign up to the KX platform to join knowledge sharing events, access best practice, seek internal expertise and to download documents from the joint document repository.

In the new KX platform we also developed an AI-powered knowledge sharing chatbot, which we call ‘Bubo’. Bubo is integrated with a LLM from OpenAI but leverages Storskogen’s own knowledge capital from the document repository when providing an answer back to the user. Bubo has been developed to seek concrete use-cases for application of AI and is still used on an experimental basis, but initial tests look highly promising.

Centrally developed AI platform
The threshold for testing AI in different business use-cases can be high, not to mention costly. Most of our business units lack in-house development capabilities, necessitating external consultants even for minor AI applications. To address this issue, Storskogen has centrally developed an AI platform, AIx, that is fully integrated with the leading LLMs. This platform allows our business units to test different AI use-cases with very limited investment.

Through this platform and with Storskogen’s support, several business units are already using or developing their own AI applications to automate and improve operations. For instance, a business unit within our Industry business area is testing a chatbot to efficiently generate work orders based on about 11,000 actual, previously documented work orders. In the Services business area, a business unit is developing an internal AI bot that employees can chat with to facilitate the compilation of offers and pricing for customers, place orders, and get suggestions for suppliers. A third business unit, in the Trade business area, is developing a chatbot that can provide customers with extensive information about their brand and product range.

Ultimately, we believe that the AI platform and our approach can support our business units in leveraging AI to drive sales growth and improve efficiency in operations.

This is just the beginning
As an active owner, Storskogen will continue to support the business units in embracing AI technology. Our initial initiatives with the AI-powered knowledge sharing chatbot and the AI platform are great first steps, but they are only marking the beginning. We believe AI constitutes an outstanding business opportunity for those who leverage it effectively. There are definitely certain risks involved with this new technology, but the greatest risk is being passive and not considering AI use-cases for your business. Concrete value from AI comes from applying it to a clear use-case, not from merely talking about it.

Jonas Tulldahl
Head of Corporate Development

Jonas Tulldahl is responsible for Corporate Development at Storskogen. Before joining Storskogen, he founded a tech company and worked as an independent strategy advisor. In addition, he has held different positions at The Boston Consulting Group, Accenture, and Sony Ericsson.