Three industries being transformed by AI

Innovation & technology 13 March 2024

The audiovisual, consulting, and biopharmaceutical sectors are already implementing AI in their strategies. During 4YFN, an expert Esade panel examined how they are doing it.

Do Better Team

Forget 'AI-ready' — It's time for AI. Many organizations have started to transition from merely being prepared for the advent of AI to actively shaping their strategies around this enabling technology.  

A panel hosted at 4YFN by Esade Professor Esteve Almirall displayed how three companies from very different sectors are jumping into AI. The session included Tatxo Benet (CEO of Mediapro), Gloria Macías-Lizaso (Partner at McKinsey & Company Digital Transformation Advisor), and César Velasco (Innovation & Digital Strategy Director of AstraZeneca).  

Although its growth has recently skyrocketed, AI has been around in corporations for many years. "For more than 15 years, we have been working on automatic TV," explained Tatxo Benet about their AI-powered television system designed to produce sports spectacles with minimal human intervention. "You only need someone to turn it on, and the machine does everything else," he illustrated. 

An industry as distinct from audiovisuals as the biopharma sector is also being significantly impacted by AI. César Velasco portrays it like a bike: "The 'back wheel' represents the R&D effort — how you develop innovative products, while the 'front wheel' is what you do to create innovative solutions to transform healthcare systems

"AI is having a huge impact on both 'wheels'. It allows us to be faster in what we were already doing and to do new things we couldn't do before," he said. These new developments include voice recognition systems that identify heart failure 15 days before the patient requires hospitalization and electrocardiogram image recognition that helps clinicians identify a non-detectable disease for human sight. 

Although its growth has recently skyrocketed, AI has been around in corporations for many years

In the consulting industry, AI has been present for a long time now. Still, according to Gloria Macías-Lizaso, things have significantly changed in recent years. "One of the main challenges was not having the talent to take advantage of AI — data scientists or businesspeople able to understand it — but that barrier has now been solved," she remarked. 

On a different note, the impact of AI is not only about how it transforms organizations but also employees. "When using AI, you need to upskill the workforce in their own disciplines. For instance, if you're a lawyer, you still need to review contracts. Unless you're a very good lawyer, you cannot add value to what the AI does," she explained. 

New AI-powered solutions

Among the specific applications of AI, Tatxo Benet cites how Mediapro is using voice cloning to deliver its products to global markets. They can clone the voice of their official sports commentators to narrate highlight plays in different languages, from the original Spanish to English, Arabic, or Chinese. The system also allows for adjusting the style and tone of the narration. 

One of the main challenges was not having the talent to take advantage of AI but that barrier has been solved

As one of the leading global consulting groups, McKinsey has built a huge knowledge database over the years. "It was a painful process to access all that knowledge," Macías-Lizaso confessed. Their new AI-powered virtual assistant (named Lilli) makes that process much more pleasant. "It helps us know where the sources are, which experts we need, etc. It makes the system much more accessible and allows us to bring that knowledge faster to our clients," she explained. 

In the realm of biopharma, AI is boosting huge science advancements, such as using neural network models to predict how proteins are shaped and making drug development safer before moving into clinical trials. In AstraZeneca, one of their main focuses is enabling personalized medicine. "AI allows us to understand what patients benefit the most from a treatment, what specific treatments they may need, or to prevent secondary effects before they happen,' Velasco lists.  

Current AI impact on jobs

A recurring question is how profound the consequences of AI will be in the job market. In the case of the health sector, Velasco remarks that "although we're growing as a society, doctors and researchers are scarce, so we still have a huge need for them." In his opinion, it's crucial not to overlook the human aspect of health technology. 

Readjustments in the job market will come along with an important reskilling effort

Benet claims that the emergence of AI will heavily impact jobs in the audiovisual sector. "We're now able to produce a whole film inside the studio; it is a much more efficient way of producing, and if it's efficient, it means it is cheaper," he said. Improved efficiency also means fewer workers are needed, but he argues that "this dynamic has always happened; we've always tried to save on jobs, but the same concept of saving on them has created the demand for new positions." 

Accordingly, Macías-Lizaso sees the leverage of AI and the increased productivity it brings as a big opportunity to move humanity forward. "Lots of jobs are going to be phased out, but more will be created," she said. In her opinion, these readjustments will come along with an important reskilling effort for current professionals

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