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How will we get people to engage with this new AI technology?

By Duncan Everett (MD Optimal Monitoring)

Not with a carrot or a stick. The best new tech sneaks up on you and before you know it you cannot even remember life without it. When we talk about AI, we paint it as disruptive, it is, but this doesn’t mean it is destructive. Just think about the rise of the home assistant, a device overflowing with AI behind the scenes. Most people who buy into this technology, did so because it was a gadget and it was cheap. So why not give it a go? Dependence happened, because it became part of the norm. It is easy to ask to play that track you liked or what the weather would be like, without the hassle of finding where you put your phone or finding the CD. As a result, it’s now just part of the fabric our homes, just like a light switch.

For Energy Management it is possible to take the same approach as for the home assistant, with all of the clever stuff hidden in the background. This has been our approach with EMMA AI. For the user we keep it simple. To take advantage of this new tech, you just need half hour consumption data for a building and the output is a ‘ticket’. As a result, both the entry and operating costs are very low.

Because the main outputs of EMMA AI are ‘tickets’ with explanations of the issue and suggested solutions EMMA AI can easily be added into an existing estate management helpdesk, with little to no disruption to the existing processes. EMMA AI behaves no differently from a store manager or janitor reporting a maintenance issue. So, the beauty is nobody even notices it happened, but the unseen utility waste becomes visible and can be dealt with within existing maintenance procedures. Zero effort, great return.

Engagement is not just about technology though. The greatest challenge is how to adopt technology that doesn’t offer a black and white ROI. We all know the 10%-20% DEFRA rule for energy saving as a result of energy management, but given the choice between new, LED lighting and a behaviour change programme, what the FD will go for? Part of the new Energy Managers role is to be able to articulate, with good, credible data, the ROI from investing in changing people’s behaviour.

Remember AI as a service is not comparable with a lighting project so the business case should come from a different angle, this is operating cost not capital after all.

Think about the cost of your last behavioural program. The time it took to create and distribute the correspondence, measure the outcomes and the results that achieved. If you revaluate those outcomes now months later, how much of that good work remains? I would guess not as much as you would like, this is inevitable as people and processes change and we cannot cost effectively run such programs forever, right? Wrong, that’s where an AI system can significantly reduce the cost of operating such programmes and deliver the added advantage of maintaining and improving the outcomes long term, with very little effort. A true win-win.

People engage best with technology when they don’t notice it’s there; the telephone, satnav, tablets. Will AI be disruptive? Well yes, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a change in direction rather than an extension of the existing direction and it should allow you to achieve more with less effort. Will it replace people? No, just allow them to re-focus on outcomes rather than the journey.

If you would like to know more you can contact Duncan on 020 7439 9259, email or contact Optimal Monitoring on 014 944 35106.

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