How will Artificial Intelligence Change the Future of Business?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a revolutionary technology that is profoundly transforming the global business landscape. The rapid growth of AI in the current decade is set to impact all major industries and business processes.
How can we expect AI to transform modern business? First of all, it’s important to note that AI covers a whole range of technologies. There are three fundamental levels of AI, each representing a different degree of sophistication:
This basically refers to ‘smart’ software that helps to improve and organise existing workflows and business processes. A great example is the spam filters of Email programs, which have gotten very good at distinguishing genuine communications from spam, or from malicious messages. Assisted intelligence is already very commonplace, and used in almost all business processes.
This refers to machine learning, which obviously requires a higher level of AI sophistication. This level of AI is starting to emerge now and will become very prominent in the coming years. A great example of augmented intelligence is the Google search algorithm, which uses machine learning to rank the most relevant website content for searchers, based on hundreds of different factors that include the browsing history, and the preferences, of a specific user.
This refers to AI-based machines that can act on their own, make independent decisions, and even create things. While there are already AI systems in existence that can compose music, and cars that can drive themselves, this level of AI is still in its infancy, and it will take a few more years before autonomous intelligence will impact business in a major way.
How can AI help business?
Obviously, the potential applications of AI in business are very broad. Essentially any business process that relies on software technology can benefit from the application of AI.
However, it’s also important to note that there are things that AI can’t do. Most prominent among these is human empathy. Many client decisions are strongly affected by empathy.
For example, modern sales processes benefit hugely from automation and AI (in the form of sophisticated CRM systems, for example), but the most critical component of the sales process still depends on skillful communication between a sales agent and a prospect, based on qualities such as empathy.
Another great example is in the area of customer support. While automated chatbots are already revolutionising this area by providing 24/7 high-quality customer support, they can’t replace humans entirely. Especially complex scenarios, or unexpected issues, have to be handled by a human agent.
And once again, the quality of empathy can have a huge impact on customer experience. A professional customer support agent can give a client the feeling they are well taken care of, even without providing an immediate solution for their problem.
The area where AI is having the greatest impact is in handling repetitive and methodical processes. For example, AI is great for diagnosing the problem of a customer, by taking them through a series of standardised questions, before handing that customer over to a real human agent.
So, in the ideal scenario, AI-based automation is used hand-in-hand with humans, each performing the part of the business process that they are best at. In cases where this is done well, the human workforce tends to appreciate the deployment of AI, since it frees them up from doing repetitive and menial work.
How to deploy AI in your business
If your company is thinking about investing in increased use of AI, the best place to start is with your core business activity. This is the area where you stand the most to gain by adding a powerful new technology, or, conversely, stand the most to lose if you neglect it, while your competitors don’t.
Once you have researched the potential applications of AI in your core business, you also need to invest in additional staff skills to deploy and manage the AI-based technology successfully.
After successful incorporation of AI into your core business, you can also look at improving peripheral business activities with AI.
An important factor to consider when you add AI to your business is that you’ll have to build multi-disciplinary teams that cover all areas of importance in your business. In addition to technical experts, you’ll also need to include experts with broad business knowledge and Industry Specialists.
All of these experts have to be integrated with each other in agile teams, which can rapidly deploy and adjust AI-based solutions across your business.
Since AI-based technologies are freeing humans from carrying out a lot of the repetitive workflows, this enables them to spend more time on managing the integration of AI with the rest of the business.
A large part of the work when deploying AI is to train everyone involved in how to use it, and how it will improve the business process.