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Dream big. Start small.

What Rewire LIVE, Amsterdam's annual Data & AI gathering taught us.

What a day!

The Rewire LIVE symposium on May 16, 2024, turned out to be a dazzling convergence of minds and machines, bringing together corporate clients and industry titans to decode the mysteries and marvels of scaling AI. The event was a riot of insights, inspiration, and a sprinkling of humor, making it a must-attend for anyone serious about AI.

Here are some of the highlights.

Reimagining your own vision beyond shiny new tools is key

Wouter, Rewire CEO, kicked off the day with a trip down memory lane, comparing AI to the magic lantern—an early form of slide projectors invented in the 1600s (not a typo!), long before iPhones existed. The recipe for success? “There is a difference between adopting tools and changing an organization. Reimagining your own vision beyond shiny tools and developing your own AI intuition and compass are key.”

80% improvement on key metrics? Brenntag did it

Next up was Carlos Soares SVP Data, Analytics & AI at Brenntag, the global leader in full-line range of chemical & ingredient products and value-added services. Through a mix of humor and hard data, showcased Brenntag’s transformation, largely driven by a desire to use data to drive automation and improve KPIs. The highlight? Brenntag's leap in performance, with some metrics improving by a whopping 80%. The secret to achieve this? Dream big, start small. And innovate quickly", as Carlos put it.

AI literacy? It starts with data literacy for all

Odessa Tseng, lead data & analytics literacy at Rabobank took the baton, diving into the cultural shift required to scale AI in large organizations. She emphasized data literacy for all, detailing Rabobank's four-step journey designed to make every employee fluent in data. Starting with pilots and scaling globally through e-learning, Rabobank has evolved from mere data literacy to AI literacy, setting a solid foundation for future innovations. Odessa’s takeaway? Empower everyone to speak the language of data.

Creation is easier than change

Tom Goodwin, the pragmatic futurist and adviser to Fortune 500 companies, then challenged the audience to re-imagine their organizations as if they were starting today, urging a break from outdated structures. He likened AI to electricity—capable of far more than just making existing processes better. Perhaps counter-intuitively, he demonstrated that category knowledge is more important than technology knowledge for AI transformation. While recognising that AI is very much in the over-hyped stage, he invited the audience to immerse itself into the stuff. His advice: “embrace AI not just as a tool, but as a catalyst for radical innovation”.

The dynamic duo Simon Koolstra and Marcel Mol, program manager and principal at Rewire, respectively, closed the morning with a deep dive into Generative AI, complete with custom-built apps and a workshop for hands-on experimentation. Their vision? GenAI systems functioning as comprehensive entities capable of orchestrating complex tasks, transforming industries in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Scaling AI laws: it’s complicated

The next leg of the conference showcased a diverse range of presentations, from ASML’s nanometer precision engineering and inside story of driving data & technology transformation, delivered by another dazzling duo - Elly An de Boer and Thomas Reichel (Lead Machine Data and Architect Common Digital Platforms, respectively) to AI corporate governance and the philosophical musings on AI ethics. Here’s a rundown of the highlights that kept everyone buzzing.

Dr. Stefan Leijnen from Utrecht’s University of Applied Sciences took the audience on a thought-provoking journey through the ethical and regulatory landscapes of AI. For instance, should an AI stop the car if there’s only a 1% chance that a child is crossing the road? If not at 1%, at what level should it stop? The road to balancing innovation with societal protection is long and complex. Yet Stefan’s engaging style and rich anecdotes made a complex subject both accessible and entertaining.

Dataiku's Director of AI governance, Jacob Beswick delivered a whirlwind tour through the intricacies of AI governance, emphasizing the growing regulatory demands and the need for robust governance frameworks. Building on Stefan's earlier explanations of the EU AI Act, Jacob’s presentation was a rapid-fire session packed with valuable insights and practical advice for corporations to navigate the regulatory terrain, build trust, transparency, and centralized governance.

Start small. Then scale.

Michiel Verboven, board member and CCO of Postcode Lottery Group​, took the stage to share how Postcode Lottery is transforming its operations through data and technology. His enthusiasm was infectious as he explained the lottery’s journey to becoming a data-centric powerhouse. Diving into the challenges of personalization and experimentation at scale, he underscored the central role of data in driving growth and engagement. His secret sauce? Starting small. Then scale. Rinse and repeat.

The conference wrapped up with a lively panel discussion featuring Tom Goodwin, Stefan Leijnen, and Wouter Huygen. The panelists tackled the rapid development of GenAI and its implications. The panel’s insights provided a fitting conclusion to a day filled with deep dives into the future of AI, leaving attendees with much to ponder and act upon.

Looking back, Rewire Live 2024’s afternoon session was a rollercoaster of insights, debates, and revelations. From the nanotech marvels of ASML to the ethical quandaries posed by AI regulation, the event showcased the diverse challenges and opportunities in scaling AI. As attendees departed, the overarching message was clear: embrace the transformative power of AI. Thoughtfully. Strategically. Start small. But dream big.

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