Modern business is becoming ever more data driven with customers and companies generating large amounts of information all the time. Being able to successfully analyse and draw insights from this data can help businesses work more effectively and efficiently.

Many companies could benefit from the kind of data-driven insights that can be generated using machine learning techniques. However, they don’t have the resources or technical know-how to create their own machine learning platforms. This is where the Cloud comes in, with major players such as Google now beginning to offer machine learning tools through the Cloud.

So just what does this mean for businesses and how can the average company start to take advantage of machine learning through the Cloud?


How machine learning works


Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence where computer programs analyse data to find patterns. The program can then either generate insights from the data for a human to interpret and use, or use the insights to take action itself.

An example might be looking at accounting data to detect instances of fraud. A machine learning program could be trained by having it analyse accounting data that is known to be accurate and also data which is known to contain fraudulent activity. The program then learns to identify the types of anomalies that indicate fraudulent behaviour.

Once the program is trained, it can then be used to assess real accounting data and flag up likely instances of fraud, making it faster and easier for humans to identify potential problems that need further investigation. Human users can then feedback to the program whether it successfully identified an instance of fraud or not and the program can take this on board allowing it to become more accurate in future.


What machine learning can offer companies


Any business that regularly has to analyse data could potentially benefit from machine learning technology. It allows companies to automate checking large amounts of data for patterns and anomalies which can save a huge amount of time and resources, allowing companies to gain insights faster and more cost-effectively.

Advanced machine learning programs can also pick up on patterns too subtle for the average human to detect. An example might be picking up on the very early stages of a potential cyberattack by looking for small anomalies in digital activity. These kind of subtle clues can be easy for a human to miss, especially as it is unlikely to be cost-effective to have a human cyber security expert actively monitoring all digital activity related to a business at all times.

Machine learning can therefore allow companies to work faster, more efficiently and more effectively if correctly deployed.


How the cloud is democratising machine learning


The problem for most businesses with taking advantages of machine learning is that creating the kind of software that uses it requires a high level of technical skills and IT resources. This is simply beyond the scope of most of businesses that could otherwise benefit from this kind of AI.

Up until now, the main way around this would be to hire a software development company to create a piece of bespoke machine learning software designed to fit your specific needs. While this can be effective, it can also be very expensive and potentially takes a long time for the developer to design, train and refine the software.

This is where the Cloud comes in. With big companies like Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure now all offering machine learning through the Cloud, more and more companies are able to start taking advantage of the kind of intelligent pattern recognition and data-driven insights machine learning has to offer.


The advantages of Cloud-based machine learning applications


Not only do Cloud-based machine learning applications make AI more affordable and accessible for companies, they can also offer a better service. This is because, rather than having to train your own machine learning software from scratch, you can simply use an application that has already been trained on a vast amount of data.

This means a Cloud-based machine learning app should work with a high degree of accuracy “out of the box” instead of being a work-in-progress for the first few weeks or months while you have to iron out any false positives or other errors.

One of the best known examples is Amazon Rekognition which is an image analysis program. It can be used to detect objects, scenes and faces in images which could, for example, allow faster processing of images pulled from CCTV. Because the software has already been trained on billions of images it can be relied on to work properly straightaway.

The more popular an application is, the better it should be as it will have the benefit of many users flagging up any potential issues or errors, rather than the small handful of users you would likely get with a piece of bespoke software designed specifically for one company.


Use cutting edge IT to make your business work smarter


Staying up-to-date with the latest technology can help your business stay ahead of the game. City Business Solutions specialise in IT solutions and support for the legal industry, so if you want to learn more about how technologies such as machine learning can make your business more successful, please get in touch.