The Transformational Impact of AI on Business
We are used to thinking of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the bad guy. Films and books over the past half-century have almost always portrayed AI as the precursor to an eventual machine war and science-fiction dystopia. However, over the past decade, that characterization is starting to change.
Today AI is something we have come to accept as a commonplace tool in our lives. While its use is still only in its infancy, smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming ever more familiar.
From a business perspective, AI is also making an impact. While there is still some uncertainty about how AI will impact individuals in the job market, there is no longer the same fear of robot domination. In the business world, AI is making itself felt in every industry and sector around the world.
What is Artificial Intelligence
There are quite a few different misconceptions about what AI is. Algorithms are computer programs that provide clear, step by step instructions on the performance of a task with a defined starting and ending point. AI systems are created using multiple different algorithms paired together. The simplest explanation of AI is that it is a computer algorithm that mimics humans in its ability to analyze and learn from information and come up with solutions to problems.
AI in Business
AI is still only in its formative stages of adoption and its capabilities are still being developed and created. The successes it has already demonstrated have made business leaders quite excited, however. Many executives are actively reviewing the benefits that AI systems will provide to their organization as the technology becomes more robust.
AI is still in the incredibly early stages of growth and implementation. Understanding what AI will eventually evolve into is difficult, however, it is possible to see how AI can benefit businesses in these areas:
AI can look at industry trends and data and help provide marketing strategies to companies. AI systems already target ads based on location and interest and this trend is only growing. AI can also be paired with chatbots to provide live information on products and services based on a client’s requirements.
While AI systems do not yet have the “gift of the gab” of humans, they do have access to information and data. AI systems are instrumental in improving sales within a business and can not only improve forecasting, they can help improve communications and better determine client requirements.
Research and Development
The amount of data available and accessible worldwide is growing at an astronomical pace. This information while impossible for a human to process is perfectly suited to AI. AI systems can parse big data to look for patterns and trends not immediately obvious. This ability lets AI systems find solutions that would not be immediately be obvious to us.
AI is ideally placed to help organizations with their IT functions. With the increasing volume of IoT devices and monitoring alerts on systems that are critical to a business, humans are simply unable to monitor or track everything. AI can not only parse all of the data, but can also determine what issues need to be fixed and proactively solve some of them leaving only the escalated issues for the IT team.
Human Resources, Accounting, Finance
While AI will not take the place of all HR functions, it can play a critical role in the recruitment and hiring functions. In the current job market, many roles are flooded with resumes and choosing the right candidate from the pool can be extremely time consuming. With resumes all being digital they can easily be stored in an ATS (applicant tracking system). This lets the AI weed out the ones that do not fit the role based on a simple keyword algorithm and weighting which is critical for HR teams.
AI has a benefit to many other areas of the business also. In the accounting and finance areas, AI can take on the simpler tasks that do not require specialist skills or knowledge. Removing these repetitive tasks is a benefit in many ways, and aside from the time saved, helps drive an improvement in morale.
Contact Centers & Customer Experience
On the contact center side, AI systems can help predict the right resources and overall staffing needed based on volumes. It can go a step further than this though as AI systems can help improve customer experience also. AI systems are perfectly placed for this using chatbots and other similar solutions which can improve the speed of response and information provided. In addition, many businesses are starting to realize that customer loyalty is not something automatically earned by service. Rather, customers want a product or service that works out the door and does not require a service call. This is where AI solutions can make a difference — by not only providing help at the initial stage, but also proactively identifying future issues so the customer does not need to call again.
Tools like building automation are a huge benefit to building managers. These systems automatically calculate the number of people working and self-regulate resources appropriately. This dramatically improves overall efficiency and helps drive an improvement in security too.
Just in time inventory control is a hallmark of the success of companies like Walmart and others. Using predictive intelligence, manufacturing organizations can ensure that waste is kept to a minimum while keeping inventory supplies at exactly the right volumes.
Conclusion — The Challenges of AI
AI has significant potential in a host of different industries. Current AI solutions can primarily be grouped in three different ways –
· Business process automation
· Customer Service and Customer Experience solutions
· Data analysis
While there have been many small successes to date with AI, it important to acknowledge that in some cases it has not achieved the vision its designers expected.
Businesses have come to realize that this is more of a marathon than a sprint. For example, initially many in the customer service industry felt that AI solutions would supplant them, and they would lose their job. Data shows that this is not the case. AI while still being deployed is not as a replacement for headcount but rather as a partner to the support personnel. Support teams now use AI solutions to take care of the simple, repetitive tasks, allowing skilled staff the time needed to concentrate on more complex issues.
AI solutions are not simply purchased “off the shelf” but need to be custom designed and built around the needs of the business and industry. Partnering with an outsourcer like NIX is critical in this area as unless you have the right data science or analytics skills in your team you will simply be wasting time. NIX has worked on multiple AI projects and has the skills and knowledge available to guide you implementing a solution that will work for you and your company. Contact us to find out how we can help.