Artificial intelligence, or AI technology, has moved out of the stuff of science fiction and movies into the real world. While the lifting of the seemingly mystical veil that covered it has rendered the whole thing a little bit more mundane, it’s impact on businesses across all industries — especially in years to come is profound.
The promise of better business
From data gathering and processing, to operations and task processing, the potential is endless. AI is the new frontier that many experts and analysts believe will be the differentiating factor that when utilized properly, will enable brands to stand out — which is especially essential in this highly competitive business environment. This versatility and broad applicability is what makes AI particularly unique from many other technological advancements. Its impact is not limited to a single industry, but can potentially encompass all of them. Consider it a strategic capability that businesses can utilize to develop specific, measurable and transformative initiatives.
Many companies have redefined their strategy going forward with that impact of AI in mind. Many have jumped on the bandwagon for one of its most common applications — automation. Again, the versatility of AI comes into play here, as automation isn’t limited to a single task or industry. From industrial operations to customer service, automation has revolutionized many business operations around the world. And that’s just one possible application.
It’s not far-fetched to speculate that in the near future, a significant number of business operations across industries and across the globe will be marrying effective human talent with AI in order to address both simple and complex issues and concerns.
Noteworthy AI technology
Tech in AI ranges from the tried and tested (and being improved) to the moderately successful and the ones that look promising, but are still in the alpha and beta stages. Forbes lists a number of technological applications in AI, we’ve narrowed it down to the most essential that businesses would do well to take a note of.
1. Virtual agents
We mentioned automation in customer service a few paragraphs back — this is exactly where virtual agents come in. In general, these programs (such as chatbots) allow simple interaction with humans and can process simple concerns, but there are also more advanced systems that can naturally process more complex issues. It may seem mundane, but just think of how Amazon’s Alexa has changed households around the world (and continues to do so, especially with the new Echo/Alexa applications and products Amazon just announced, The Verge reports). The customer service industry has also benefitted from virtual agent technology a lot, allowing them to streamline operations and save on manpower costs.
2. Deep learning
Think part actual, literal simulated brain. Machines use artificial neural pathways to learn any number of things. Quite young, but the large data sets this tech usually utilizes has been very useful in pattern recognition and classification, which has applications in a number of industries. For example, customer shopping patterns or behavior can be better understood, prompting merchants to develop more target and effective campaigns.
3. Speech recognition
Basically, technology that can transcribe human speech and convert it into a format that can be used by any number of applications. This tech has strong ties to virtual agent technology, although it can also be used in any number of ways. This tech is also especially useful — and promising — due to the rapidly growing consumer segment that rely heavily on mobile technology.
4. Natural language generation
Somewhat related to speech recognition, but looking at it in reverse, as this kind of tech uses computer data to create text. It is widely used at the moment in business intelligence and task management, as well in customer service. This, along with other related AI technology and human expertise is another testament to the potential of AI technology as a whole.
The actual and physical interaction and interface between human and machine. The most obvious applications include image, speech and touch recognition — which have in turn been used to beef up digital security, especially in mobile phones, which contain much more important data and personal information than they did a few years ago. Gaming also utilizes this technology to translate body language into interactive games.
Trends to watch out for
As it develops, AI will continue to see its role as a driver for business innovation grow. Entrepreneur reported several trends in AI that will continue to shape the business operating landscape across the world; here are the most noteworthy:
1. Larger automation applications
While the political discourse may indicate immigration and immigrants for local job loss, a much larger, less discussed-about culprit is actually automation. As AI develops, more and more simple tasks will be taken over by machines and robots, both human and computer-operated.
2. More efficient operations
As AI increases its growth and impact on businesses, these institutions will see their operations become more streamlined and efficient. Industries that utilize mass production will likely see less errors and more consistency. Companies will also be able to save on manpower, staffing and logistics/operational costs due to various AI applications.
3. Machine-assisted learning
This is a perfect example of how machines and humans will be able to complement each other. It is through the creation of a harmonious relationship between the two that the potential of AI shines. Machine learning can couple with human intuition and decision-making in order to facilitate any number of things. As a whole, this system can allow for the resolution of more complex issues, such as in customer service.
4. Self-driving, self-everything
Self-driving cars have long been darlings of technology news. While that tech in particular still has a lot of development ahead of it, it also signifies that driving will likely not be the only task that developers seek to make (generally) fully function by itself. Even in healthcare, where consistency and accuracy is key, self-functioning machines may be essential in reducing deaths and injuries resulting from human error.
5. Larger investment in AI
Forbes also reported that companies are expected to continue to invest in digital transformation, and by extension, AI, as time passes. Many industries are beginning to realize and appreciate the potential of the technology and are developing strategies that now incorporate some form of AI. This means that both the individual workforce, as well as organizations as a whole, should be on the lookout for partners and their corresponding AI technologies that can serve as a differentiator for their product or service going forward.
6. Larger acceptance of AI
Especially with the millennial crowd continuing to become the more dominant and numerous consumer group, it is expected that there will not only be a larger acceptance of digital transformation technologies like AI — there may very well be a growing demand for it. Given the benefits of such a technology, consumers will naturally veer towards brands that offer more convenient ways to access their service or product.
So, what’s the plan?
Companies that want to continue to grow need to keep up with the technology and trends in the AI space, lest they become outdated. And outdated businesses, quite frankly, disappear into oblivion. Here are a few things companies should take into consideration when developing their digital strategy going forward.
1. Don’t be afraid to try new things
Many companies understandably show concern about investing in AI given the cost it entails. They key is not to invest too much, but always feel the waters and see what’s available and how that particular business can benefit from it. In many cases, concerns are unfounded, and the pros outweigh the cons by a lot. It is through the disruption of the status quo and the desire to outdo the current standard — usually through AI and various other technologies — that breakthroughs for both for business and consumers is achieved. Companies like Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like are good examples of this.
2. Have a more tech-savvy c-suite
Many executives find themselves lost in the plethora of jargon, terminology and intricacies of AI and fail to see its potential. It’s important for companies to have one or more executives that can understand trends and tools in AI. This way, future digital strategy will be realistic and effective.
3. Remember: Man AND machine
A common pitfall for many brands is to simply forget the human element altogether and focus on digital. It is important for companies to realize that AI is simply a tool. A study released by Deloitte shows that it is through the unique traits of the human mind and talent, coupled with effective AI solutions, that effective business initiatives and goals are realized.
And by human element, that means both the members of the organization, as well as customers. Customers still respond and need human interaction. Focusing on solely digital/AI solutions may look good on paper, but always remember to never lose touch with consumers.
4. Collaborate with the right partners
It’s important that companies be open to collaborations and partnerships with other organizations in order to realize their goals for AI. Partners like Runrun.it, for example, utilizes its expertise and experience in the digital strategy space to enable companies to make operations more efficient through task and workflow management, as well as data collection, among other things. A free trial is available so you can see which of its offerings work best for your particular organization. Sign up for a free trial now at http://runrun.it