AI Insights

8 Ways Omdena Helps Organizations Build Real-World AI Solutions

January 22, 2020

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An organization that wants to become AI-powered and build solutions for real-world problems has to overcome several challenges along the way. 

One of the most common obstacles is getting access to AI experts and data scientists that can help to translate a problem into a deployable AI solution or prototype. In addition, many organizations have little or no data, to begin with. And even if data is plentiful, the question remains, how to leverage the raw data to solve problems or gain valuable insights. If an organization made the step to develop an AI system, the next wave of challenges is just around the corner.

Namely, AI systems built in the lab are often biased and lack real-world approval. More than 50 percent of AI solutions fail due to a misalignment of stakeholders, no metrics, and no contextual AI strategy.

Now, how to solve these issues and build AI solutions successfully?

At Omdena, we have worked with more than 800 AI engineers to find ways to overcome these problems. 

Our approach to developing AI technology is based on collaboration where diversity of thought and inclusion is embedded in the process.

Omdena runs Collaborative AI Projects with organizations that want to get started with AI, solve a real-world problem, or build deployable solutions within two months.

We have been collaborating with various organizations, including the United Nations, companies, startups, and NGOs around the world.

In our eight-week challenges, a selected community of 40 to 50 AI engineers delivers innovative and ethical solutions using real-world data. 

One of our recent partners, Wildfire detection company Sintecsys, describes our diverse teams in the following way: 

An Omdena project brings together power, speed, and accuracy, through the dedication and impeccability from the Data Scientists involved and the leadership that emerged from the collaborative process. It not only got us into the AI game but also pointed us in the most suitable direction for our company. 

Problems we solve for you

The following list gives you a headstart on the advantages of Collaborative AI and whether you’d qualify for a challenge with our global community.

1. I don’t have a clearly defined problem for a project

There are plenty of meaningful problems that could be solved with the right AI technology.

In a nonextensive report, McKinsey compiled a library of more than 160 AI use cases.

Even though the AI movement is accelerating, the progress can be still seen as slow up until now. One of the main reasons is that many of the problems need to be translated into an AI-suitable format. 

Running an Omdena challenge means to work with AI and domain experts to transform a vague problem statement to a specific AI use case within a couple of days or weeks. 

For example, in our Earth Quake project with Impacthub Istanbul, the initial statement was to “improve the aftermath management of an earthquake with AI”. Within two weeks, the community narrowed it down to “Predicting the safest route after an earthquake for people at special risk (schools, hospitals)”. 

2. I do not have (quality) data 

According to several studies and our experience working with more than 600 AI engineers, data challenges, are the most common obstacle organizations face. 

Building a cutting-edge AI-based solution comes with the necessity to feed the algorithm not only the right type of data but also high-quality data.

In an Omdena challenge, our collaborators take care of:

  • Data collection 
  • Data understanding 
  • Data preparation 

A special bonus to ensure high quality is our community-enabled peer-to-peer review process where several people check each other’s code throughout the entire project. 

Our challenge to build a chatbot for Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) treatment was even kicked off with no data set at all. Within a week the community found creative ways to access various data sets

3. I do not have the technical staff for an AI project

No AI team, no AI solution?

Obviously, the lack of AI talent is the cornerstone of all obstacles associated with AI adoption. 

At Omdena you’ll get access to a selected community of AI practitioners that are most suitable to tackle your problem. Our AI challenges bring together AI experts, data scientists, machine learning and data engineers, as well as domain experts. 

Working with a fully staffed and diverse community comes with additional advantages, which bring us to the next point. 

4. I want to know how to build my own AI team

A fatal mistake many organizations make is to just hire AI experts or even beginners and expect magic to happen. 

Without asking the right questions, building the AI team will end in an expensive disaster. 

Here are a few common questions that need to be answered properly before making hiring decisions. 

  • What specific capabilities do I need in my organizational context?
  • What are the team composition and level of experience required?
  • How to attract and communicate with data scientists and machine learning engineers? 
  • What are my current data and infrastructure capabilities? 

According to an O-Reily study “hiring the required roles” is the third-biggest problem companies face. 

When building your team, you want to be well-prepared to attract the sought-after data scientists to your enterprise, startup, or NGO. 

An eight-weeks deep dive into a full-scale project has significantly helped our previous partners to derive their own AI strategy.

Wildfire detection company Sintecsys, for example, worked with 42 Omdena collaborators in conjunction with their internal team to scale their business model. The developed machine learning models are currently implemented to avoid wildfires in the Amazon rain forest. 

5. I want to build a fully deployable AI solution

In most of our challenges organizations request an implementable cutting-edge solution, within a short time frame.

The reason why we can move faster than in traditional development approaches are our Collaborative AI processes:

Once a challenge is kicked-off tasks and responsibilities are quickly allocated to the right people 

In addition, we leverage available code, best-in practice tools, and processes to simultaneously test and develop multiple machine learning models. 

And all of this happens in a diverse and inclusive setting where perspectives are shared most effectively. 

For globally known NGO Safecity India, our community built an algorithm to predict safe routes for women at risk of sexual harassment. In Safecity’s words: 

Omdena is one of the world’s finest sets of data scientists building solutions for Good. In only two months, we accomplished what we tried for two years reaching out to some of the biggest corporations. 

6. I want to prototype and validate my hypotheses

Even if your goal is not to build a fully deployable solution, yet, running a challenge will deliver valuable insights through data exploration and rapid prototyping. 

Global AI expert Andrew NG points out that in order to derive an AI strategy successfully, pilot projects are the best way to “get the flywheel turning” as soon as possible. 

A project should generate a quick win such as insights on where to focus your capabilities. 

In a recent challenge, we have helped the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to leverage open-source data in Nepal to fight hunger (link). As a follow-up challenge, we are working with the WFP in Istanbul to improve the food supply management in case of natural disasters.

7. I want to develop an ethical & trustworthy solution

According to findings by a New York University research center, the lack of diversity in the artificial intelligence field has reached “a moment of reckoning”. A “diversity disaster” has contributed to flawed systems that perpetuate gender and racial biases found a survey, published by the AI Now Institute, of more than 150 studies and reports.

One of our key mission points is to ensure diversity and inclusion in our challenges. 

We are proud to say that 35 percent of our AI community collaborators are female and see diversity of thought as a necessary condition to develop trustworthy products for real-world product adoption.

In the end, AI for Good solutions cannot be built in isolation of the people and social circumstances that make them necessary in the first place. 

8. My organization would benefit from global exposure

Finally, we work with our partners to not only build cutting-edge AI solutions for tough problems but also provide a global platform where your organization will be showcased to leading partners in the AI space. 

Partnering with Omdena includes joint promotional efforts pre-project when we announce the call for applications and invite the AI community, during a project, as well as after in form of social media coverage, case studies, and webinars. 

We at Omdena build long-lasting partnerships and are excited to help you solve your problems. 

“Why compete if we can collaborate” 

For further questions, check out our FAQs or get to know the Omdena team in our LiveChat.

Want to work with us?

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