AI is Here to Stay: Nebraska Organizations Adopt New Tech in Inventive Ways

Technology continues to evolve rapidly, enabling businesses of all sizes to streamline operations and better serve customers. But with that ever-changing technology landscape — especially in artificial intelligence (AI) — businesses must set aside time to learn how to best implement the methods that will work best to reach goals.

AI Trends

AI has already changed business practices with content that mimics human-generated work. Whether it’s writing, creating music, drafting a report, or even providing patient care in a clinic setting, AI will continue to change the business landscape.

“AI is revolutionizing how we approach data analysis, customer service, and automation,” said Jon Weiss, founder and CEO of ShineForth. “Local businesses are increasingly adopting AI for tasks like generating content, as well as deploying solutions in customer relationship management, inventory forecasting, and personalized marketing.

“AI-powered chatbots, for instance, are becoming common for customer service, providing quick and efficient responses to customer inquiries, especially now that they can be pre-trained. The key is to protect confidential information and only implement AI in responsible ways.”

Michael Sauers, technology manager at Do Space, said it’s important for businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

“In the next year, I envision most of the tech field really embracing the world of AI,” he said. “Artificial intelligence has already come so far in the past year and it will continue to do the same moving forward. Businesses will continue to find practical ways to utilize AI so that they can operate as efficiently as possible.”

AI’s application spans numerous industries in the Midlands, notably agriculture.

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“The Heartland Robotics Cluster in Nebraska received a $25 million Build Back Better grant for AI and robotics in agriculture, highlighting successful projects such as the Grain Weevil for grain bin safety, Birds Eye Robotics for poultry farming automation, and Marble Technology for meatpacking robotics,” said Shonna Dorsey, executive director of Nebraska Tech Collaborative. “These initiatives aim to boost Nebraska’s agricultural efficiency and workforce development.

AI is also reinventing the world of health care to augment clinical expertise.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Interprofessional Experiential Center for Enduring Learning (iEXCEL) have employed AI and other simulation technology at the Davis Global Center to improve patient outcomes.

Three years ago, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved the UNMC Center for Intelligent Health Care (CIHC) to enable research and development in AI related to clinical care.

“The Center reaches across the four NU campuses to harness the expertise of clinical experts, educators, data scientists, implementation scientists and artificial intelligence scientists to address the challenging problems facing Nebraskans,” said John Windle, director of CIHC. “Educators are building tools to simulate patients and situations that reach and teach all levels of learners, from learning to start an intravenous line in a mannequin to training a team of clinicians to set up a mobile hospital to treat Ebola patients in Africa.

“AI also can be used to take real patient data to create novel solutions (like designing a stent to be placed in a patient’s artery) or to be trained to read heart studies. UNMC is pioneering an area of AI health care research termed ‘causality.’ This work helps provide transparent solutions that are understood by clinicians. We are committed to training the next generation of health care professionals, to narrow the gap in care between urban and rural patients, the rich and the poor, and building it all with uniquely Nebraska values.”

Tips for Adoption

Before introducing and adopting new technology, experts recommend having big-picture goals in mind for your business, as well as a detailed plan that goes with it.

“Consider starting with a small, manageable pilot project as a way to experiment with new tech, including AI,” Dorsey explained. “Keeping the customer experience at the forefront, staying current with ongoing tech developments, and being mindful of the ethical use of tech are also key.”

Sauers noted that while it’s fine to experiment with new strategies, do so with a goal in mind.

“If you know where you want to end up, the better you can steer your decisions in the right direction,” he said. “Keep your communication consistent and transparent. Make sure you’re keeping your stakeholders and employees informed and involved. Transparency helps build trust and buy-in as you change and adapt.”