Innovator Series Fifth Interview - Using AI to shake up energy

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Innovator Series Fifth Interview - Using AI to shake up energy

14 Jan 2021 | BusinessNZ Energy Council

Innovator Series Fifth Interview - Using AI to shake up energy

BEC Innovators Series: Arcanum

Using AI to shake up energy

Wellington-based software developer Arcanum delivers enterprise AI technology that could shake up the energy sector.

The business applies the latest technologies in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, taking large data sets and generating new insights into the data. These are complex patterns in data which Arcanum processes and can add business value to.

Founder Asa Cox says Arcanum helps businesses in a multitude of ways. It can boost sales and revenue by targeting customers with better products or offers or help with customer retention by giving special offers to secure loyalty.

For example, when someone shops online, they can place something in their cart, they are then open to similar suggestions for products to buy. In this case, machine learning assesses historical data on what you or others have ordered at the same time. To do this, it assesses the ecosystem of data that is available to the business.

Ethical questions

Cox hopes the future of data analytics involves the end customers taking back control of their data.

“At the moment, people sell data about us to advertisers. I really hope at some point we will get control of our data; we will give permission to websites and even real-world shops as we walk in the door [....] only for the period we give them permission.”

He says fears around machine learning and AI are based on misunderstanding of the technology.

“It’s certainly not a technology designed to replace humans, it’s something to come alongside humans to make their lives better, more enjoyable to free time to be working on more creative tasks.

“It shouldn’t be seen as a threatening technology; it should be seen as one which will release us to be the best form of ourselves.”

AI for the energy sector

Cox says there is a huge amount of data involved in the energy sector - from optimising machinery to generating the most energy to distribution.

“There is some innovation happening [in the sector], but a lot more could be done. That could benefit the country, consumers and businesses as we drive towards a more efficient, greener energy environment.”

Arcanum has historically been focused on asset inspection using video of power lines, but now wants to talk to the industry about building the right data foundations to utilise its platform.

Use cases could be load balancing, predictive demand, intelligent batteries and storage, customer retention and IoT analytics.

Coming out of a year defined by the disruption of Covid-19, Arcanum has benefitted from the rapid digitalisation of working from home.

“A lot of industries have realised that by offering more digital products and services they can grow their business.

“We see a lot of demand coming for capitalising on that pace. We see machine learning and AI being a way to really accelerate grow in a post-Covid world into 2021 and beyond.

“For us it’s a very exciting time.”