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Udacity is thrilled to introduce our first Executive Program — the AI for Business Leaders Executive Program, built in partnership with BMW. Executive Programs are intensive, strategically-focused programs that empower business leaders to rapidly understand complex and technical concepts, like Artificial Intelligence, and apply these concepts to high-stakes decision-making in real-world business scenarios.

What exactly is Udacity’s new Executive Program, AI for Business Leaders? Gabe Dalporto, CEO of Udacity, offers a great explanation of the value of this program: ”Udacity ‘Executive Programs’ are an exciting addition to our curriculum that teach leaders and executives the fundamentals of a particular technology, like Artificial Intelligence, and go deep into the key questions and strategic implications they should be considering around the application of these technologies in their organization. In contrast, our Nanodegree programs teach hands-on, practitioner-level skills to those who will be implementing a specific technology.”

AI for Business Leaders

Why should businesses invest in AI now?

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technologies have revolutionized how businesses are run, with 93% of high-growth companies with double-digit organic growth expecting to invest in AI in the next one to three years. Some of the fastest growing companies and today’s tech giants, like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce, all have AI at the core of their business. In order to stay ahead of competitors, these companies all have built big data capabilities to power machine learning within their organizations to enable them to take advantage of AI-based applications, such as customer service chatbots, product recommendation engines, and facial recognition.

Sebastian Thrun, Udacity President and co-founder, explains why AI and machine learning technologies are of paramount importance for all business leaders: “Artificial intelligence is perhaps the most transformative technology today. If you feel it is challenging to implement AI in your company, you are not alone. This course is meant for leaders who direct companies to understand and exploit artificial intelligence. You will learn what AI really is, what effect it can have, how to recruit for AI, how to educate for AI, how to assemble teams, how to set realistic objectives, and how to harness the full power of artificial intelligence for your organization.”

Moreover, the versatility of AI applications have caused the adoption of these machine learning technologies across many industries.  Companies in the robotics industry like iRobot are building smart home vacuums that use AI to scan the room, identify obstacles, and identify the most efficient route for cleaning.  Companies in the transportation and logistics industry like Embark Trucks are building autonomous trucks that use deep neural nets to learn how to drive through glae, fog and darkness on their own.  Companies in the automotive industry like BMW are building automated image recognition applications that expedite the manufacturing process by leveraging AI to scan whether all parts have been mounted in the correct place during production.  Companies in the retail industry like eBay are building recommendation engines that use machine learning to help sellers identify the most optimal price point of their items.  Companies in the financial services industry like AlphaSense are building financial search engines that use natural language processing to help financial investment firms streamline the due diligence process done by analysts.  Companies in the healthcare industry like PathAI are building machine learning algorithms that enable image classification of blood samples to power more accurate diagnosis of diseases.

The rise of artificial intelligence in the past decade has transformed computer science and the workplace, causing businesses to rethink ways of integrating this emerging technology into their corporate strategy. Tech giants like Amazon have built an empire by reorganizing their whole organization around artificial intelligence to create a cohesive customer experience.  However, according to a Deloitte’s 2017 State of AI in the Enterprise report, a staggering 94% of enterprises are struggling to implement AI in their organizations and fail to reap the full corporate-growth boosting potential of this technology. According to AnalyticsInsights, a leading media platform focused on the world’s data-driven technologies, one of the top challenges enterprises face implementing AI in their organization include the lack of AI technical know-how in management.  Furthermore, McKinsey found that developing an AI strategy that consists of an enterprise-wide view of compelling AI opportunities is a challenge cited among executives that desire to enable AI adoption within their organization.

Executive Program Details

In this executive program, which takes approximately four to eight weeks to complete, business leaders will become equipped with the tools to capitalize on the transformative power of AI in their organizations. They will learn how to implement an AI-driven corporate strategy by understanding the foundational technical knowledge of machine learning and acquiring a strategic framework to evaluate the various business applications of artificial intelligence across industries. 

Through practical case studies at the end of each lesson, you will learn what strategic questions to ask and how to formulate proposals when evaluating opportunities to embed machine learning and artificial intelligence into a corporate strategy. From going through the ideation of feasible machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions to the assessment of implementation architectures, risks, and impact, you will be enabled to build a machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy rooted in technical competence. 

Capstone Project: Deliver a Machine Learning & AI Strategy

In this project, you will formulate a cohesive AI strategy for either your own company or a predefined business scenario for an automotive manufacturer or news and telecommunications conglomerate. You will:

  • Confirm the need for machine learning/artificial technologies and analyze the proposed use cases’ potential for success.
  • Create mock model architectures and evaluate the cost, timing, and accuracy constraints. Determine the success metrics of your top use cases.
  • Share your top use cases with stakeholders to solicit feedback for reprioritization of top use cases using the impact versus feasibility matrix. 
  • Create a final proposal that is technically achievable and highly impactful based on the synthesis of conclusions from the process above.  

Collaborating with Top AI Professionals

To develop our first Executive Program’s curriculum, Udacity collaborated with BMW to make sure this program delivers the working knowledge that leading enterprises need in their leadership teams. Each of these collaborators contributed guidance and feedback to focus the program on the most in-demand skills. 

The AI for Business Leaders chief instructor, William Ross, is an experienced investor in AI and ML, and previously worked with IBM’s Watson group managing a variety of PM and corporate dev teams. Today, he is the co-founder of a Silicon Valley-based AI startup, and attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He shares, “This program is a unique way to learn how to apply AI to your business. By taking you through a series of case studies and requiring you to apply the knowledge you’ve gained to actual decision-making in a business context, you’ll learn how AI and machine learning work, and develop the skills to make astute judgments in delivering ML/AI strategy for your business.”

Supplemental course material was developed by  instructors, Luis Serrano, AI Engineer at Apple and former Machine Learning Engineer at Google, and Josh Bernhard, Data Scientist at NerdWallet. Other contributors to the AI for Business Leaders executive program include Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School, Director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, who shares: “Creating an AI course for business leaders so they can speak the same language as their engineers is challenging. Working with BMW to understand the practical, technical, and commercial hurdles was incredibly insightful. Now, these learnings are available to all leaders who want to understand more about how to leverage AI to advance their business.” 

Pre-order Today

The AI for Business Leaders Executive program is applicable to all industries ranging from finance, to technology, to manufacturing, healthcare, security, e-commerce, and more, making it a unique opportunity for business professionals from a variety of backgrounds to be able to understand how to best apply these new technologies to fully exploit their potential.

The distinguishing elements of Udacity’s courses are the emphasis on real-world projects, business case studies, the thousands of industry experts who act as mentors to learners, and the ability to seamlessly integrate learning into working schedules while gaining a formal qualification. There’s no better way to prepare your business for the AI revolution than by registering today for the AI for Business Leaders Executive Program. Reserve your  spot today, and begin learning when the classroom opens for the first time on February 25, 2020. Enroll today!

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Matt Hui
Matt Hui
Matt is a Product Lead on Udacity's content strategy team. Prior to Udacity, he worked as a strategy & innovation consultant for Fortune 500 clients, including Google, Cisco, MetLife, and Capital One, and as a high school science teacher. He holds an MBA from USC Marshall School of Business and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Messiah College.