Your business and customers are already using AI, but might not know it yet. Artificial intelligence sits behind search engines, GPS routes, supply chains, chatbots and virtual assistants. But, in 2019 and beyond, AI technology will be more visible to businesses and end users, helping improve how we work, and creating new challenges controversies on the way.
What Can You Do With AI?
Business intelligence has been a huge digital trend over the last decade, as companies move to better understand their data. Using easy-to-follow dashboards, collecting data together from a wide range of silos and moving the business forward based on the results has spread from data-heavy industry giants across the landscape to all types and sizes of company.
The arrival of AI allows those businesses to move to the next step, using data and the brains of an AI to better predict future trends. By 2020, industry analyst types at Deloitte predict over 80% of business software solutions will come with some type of AI built-in, as part of the typical cloud package.
Not all companies will use AI, or use it to maximum advantage, but they will increasingly be aware of the benefits and see other companies leveraging it well. The most common use cases will be to further refine productivity, develop future business plans and help guide leadership decision making. Highly visible uses will still be in practical applications like interpreting images or video, chatbots and virtual assistants, but will move on to more medical and analytic uses.
Where AI is used to good effect, companies will invest further in it, learning more about the possibilities and developing strategies that focus or are dependent on AI-based results. That will soon create a typical split between the users and non-users for AI, with those lagging behind likely to see that reflected in their results.
The Wide Availability of AI
Behind any growing market comes a new industry of skills, and the advanced world of AI is full of stories about rock star data scientists, AI engineers and others. However, with AI available as just-another-service from vendors like Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, IBM, Google and others, any company can experiment with and deploy AI at low cost.
There are also focused vertical and or dedicated product players offering specific services like SnatchBot’s chatbots or Avvio’s hotel booking system, all easy to deploy within any business and using various AI features as part of the overall sphere of the technology.
AI features like natural language processing, machine learning and data analysis largely happen in the cloud or the background of an AI app, allowing businesses to plug in their own data, chatbot conversations or link it to other apps.
One issue that is key to business success is a joined-up approach from the company to using AI. While test projects and pilots might have started in one department or branch, companies need a singular focus on using AI, ensuring that AI tasks work in concert and businesses look to long-term goals and not just short-term gains.
Fear of an AI Planet
Some businesses, notably those with high-level data security requirements will balk at feeding their data into an AI black box for analysis. Many companies will want to see predictable results from the AI before they commit to using them.
However, while proponents will brush any issues and tabloid stories aside as growing pains or Luddite-reactions, there is genuine concern about a world dominated by AI. Pew’s recent research shows fears about AI in health and transport and other key areas, as well as the general rise of the technology.
Just one wrong AI diagnosis or incident will get orders of magnitude more press than the hundreds of daily human errors or accidents. But, there’s a strong need for clarity, honesty and avoiding over-hyping the technology from vendors.
To this end, businesses need to clearly explain to workers and customers why any AI is being used, from a chatbot to a new analytics tool. Fears around job losses or reskilling need to be addressed, and the company needs to make sure its data isn’t locked into one tool or vendor’s AI, preventing strategic changes in the future.
As with every other technology, there will be good and poor uses for AI, positive and negative stories. What no one can ignore is that AI is here and on the rise, and will impact every business and person in the coming decade. From grabbing a useful bot from a chatbot store to adopting the AI features in your cloud office suite, getting into AI without the need for high-cost experts is getting easier.
Accepting, testing and adopting AI-based services is the only way to ensure your business is ready for that future. Your customers are already used to dealing with bots through virtual assistants, increasingly smart chatbots and they see AI marketed in many new services.
As part of a move to digital business or simply looking to upgrade older apps and services, AI will be a feature of most new business-type products. Being able to make use of it in a positive manner will boost most businesses, from simple ways like customer services to helping plan new products or future strategies.