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  • Writer's pictureSofia Ng

Why AI might not be the answer

In New Zealand businesses, there's a clear preference for artificial intelligence (AI) for tackling operational issues. This trend sees AI often being chosen for tasks that, on closer inspection, might benefit from less complex and more straightforward solutions. The question then arises: Are companies in New Zealand too quick to pour their investments into AI, potentially at the expense of simpler, equally effective alternatives (even more effective)?

It's peculiar that the spotlight shines so brightly on AI for activities such as document searching—a function that begs the question of whether such advanced technology is necessary. We'll explore the financial decision-making that favors AI, potentially sidelining more accessible and cost-effective solutions. Why do AI initiatives attract the funding and approval from those holding the purse strings, while straightforward fixes struggle for recognition and investment? Is the focus on AI truly in the best interest of New Zealand's businesses or would a shift back to basics pave the way for more efficient and practical solutions.

AI vs. Simplicity: Are NZ Companies Missing Out on Easier Solutions?

Lately a trend has emerged that puts artificial intelligence (AI) on a pedestal, often heralded as the go-to solution for a range of operational challenges. From improving customer service to streamlining business processes, AI seems to be the buzzword on every executive's lips. But a critical question surfaces: Are New Zealand companies over-investing in AI at the cost of overlooking simpler, more efficient solutions?

The AI Investment Frenzy

In recent times, New Zealand has seen a significant surge in AI investments. Companies big and small are funneling resources into AI projects with the hope of revolutionising their operations. This enthusiasm is not unfounded; AI promises unprecedented efficiencies and capabilities. Yet, this excitement has led to an interesting paradox. Projects that propose simpler technological solutions—those without the AI label—are finding it increasingly difficult to secure funding. It appears that the allure of AI is so strong that it overshadows the potential of less complex alternatives that are often more suited to the task at hand.

The Document Search Dilemma

A striking example of this trend is the widespread use of AI for enhancing document search capabilities. On the surface, using advanced AI to sift through documents might seem like a futuristic and efficient approach. However, it becomes evident that many of these tasks could be handled by simpler, more traditional search technologies. These alternatives not only cost less but can be implemented more quickly and with less risk. Yet, the preference for AI-driven solutions persists, raising questions about the optimal use of company resources and how the business cases with less hyped tech compete for funding.

Why the Bias Towards AI?

The bias towards AI can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, there's the appeal of innovation—AI projects are often seen as more cutting-edge and forward-thinking. Secondly, the decision-makers controlling the budgets may have a limited understanding of technology, swayed more by trends than by practical efficacy. This scenario creates an environment where AI projects are more likely to receive the green light, as they are perceived as more likely to offer a competitive edge.

The Cost of Overlooking Simplicity

The consequences of this bias can be significant. By prioritizing AI over simpler solutions, companies risk investing in technology that is not only more expensive but also more complex than necessary. This complexity can lead to longer implementation times, higher maintenance costs, and a steeper learning curve for staff. Moreover, the fixation on AI diverts attention and resources from other areas of technology that could provide immediate benefits with far less investment.

Finding the Balance

The key for New Zealand companies lies in finding the right balance between embracing AI and recognizing the value of simpler solutions. This involves a more nuanced understanding of the problems at hand and a willingness to consider a broader range of technological options. Decision-makers need to critically assess the specific needs of their operations and consider whether an AI solution genuinely offers the best fit, or if a less complex alternative could achieve similar or even better results. Unfortunately, it feels as though businesses are hoping for a quick fix to solve years of under investment in IT.

Embracing Practicality Over Hype

As New Zealand continues to navigate its technological future, the challenge will be to harness the potential of AI without getting caught up in the hype. This means embracing a practical approach to technology investment—one that values simplicity and efficiency as much as innovation. By doing so, New Zealand companies can ensure they are not only investing wisely but also positioning themselves for sustainable growth in an increasingly digital world.

Evaluating Projects on Merit

When it comes down to choosing tech projects, the key is to evaluate them on their own merit. It’s all about what they bring to the table: real solutions, cost savings, efficiency improvements. If innovation is what we’re after, then let’s state that upfront and make it a part of our evaluation. This doesn’t mean shying away from new ideas; it’s about being honest about our goals. Are we looking for true innovation that solves problems, or just trying to add the latest tech because it’s trendy? Let’s make sure our projects are not just about the flash but about substance—delivering real value to our operations and our customers.


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