When someone mentions artificial intelligence you’d likely first think of robots or science fiction films, but for many businesses AI could actually be the future.
No longer is AI an unachievable concept from futuristic films, it is very much the here and now in today’s business world. In fact close to 40% of businesses use AI in some way, and on top of that, the number is set to grow closer to 80-90% over the next two years. LinkedIn stated in it’s definitive list for emerging job roles that ‘AI specialist’ has risen by roughly 74% over the last year and is now considered to be the number one job of 2020 by the company.
Business and Artificial Intelligence
USA is the main place of work for people of this job role, with the main areas of industry being San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. Though, with the continued use of artificial intelligence on a global scale, it is expected to be more commonly found worldwide in the coming years.
The top industries said to be on the lookout for this sort of talent are currently, Computer Software, Internet, Information Technology & Services, Business Finance, Higher Education, Consumer Electronics.
The AI thought process
You would not appear uninformed for having your doubts about AI, and there are many reasons to believe the negative connotations that surround it. However, common misconceptions may have you trusting something that isn’t true, therefore clouding your judgment.
For instance, may people are under the impression that AI is created to help businesses downsize, clearing out human members of staff and replacing them cost-effectively with machines. This has been proven to not normally be the case however, and instead, AI can be used to analyse the general performance and potential talent of teams of employees.
Others may fear the costs involved with implementing an artificial intelligence system into their business. They worry that it could have huge effects on the budget structure of their companies and create a difficult financial predicament. Though, the cost returns on placed investments so far have been enough proof alone to show this isn’t often the case, and AI can actually be worth the financial backing in the long run.
The main reason companies are opting to use artificial intelligence today is for the analytic expertise it brings with it. It takes away the difficulties of human-analysis and trades it for the ease and speed of an AI scanning routine. This not only takes the workload off of human shoulders, but also helps to create a clear, non-biased layout of information that can lead to the progression of businesses.
How businesses use AI today
Artificial intelligence is now widely used in business applications, including automation, data analytics, and natural language processing. These are three key areas that we can find AI most commonly today. But, there are many different uses for this new technology that are proving to be continuously fruitful for companies. Harvard Extension School have recently reported on the common areas of growth surrounding AI technology, pointing out other business uses for it in the process. They list the following to be common uses for businesses around the world:
- Transferring and cross-referencing data; updating files
- Consumer behaviour forecasting and product recommendations
- Fraud detection
- Personalised advertising and marketing messaging
- Customer service via telephone or chat bots
With these services on offer to businesses, artificial intelligence systems are set up to make a strong impact on marketing, supply chain management, and manufacturing. If artificial intelligence can be programmed in any way we choose, we can use it to target customers, improve the user friendliness of services and websites, and even analyse the way in which customers consume content, allowing business owners to shift their workload accordingly.
Real world problem solving
As we fine tune artificial intelligence in unique ways that suit individual businesses, we set the systems up to deal with specific tasks. This way the AI tracks down things that may be missed by the human mind and uses compute science to scan through masses of information at an extraordinary speed.
Though, AI systems can be used in far more interesting ways than this. If as a business you’re struggling to market a product to the right kind of consumer, artificial intelligence programmes can create unique marketing messages to individual customers, based on their search history, past methods of purchasing, interests, and more. This gives business owners a new level of unique insight into their customers, allowing them to connect and communicate in a far more personal way than ever before.
This method of personalised advertising is something previously undiscovered and it has been predicted that a huge amount of businesses will choose to begin adopting AI on a much larger scale, thanks to this sort of consumer push it can reward companies with.
It can also recommend customers products after looking into their past consumer behaviour, forecasting what they may want in the future. While this may sound like an invasion of personal space to many, everything you do on the internet will be stored in some way, and artificial intelligence can use analytics to cross reference older data with newer findings. Businesses will surely see this as a rewarding and promising prospect for them to take advantage of.
What we already know
Artificial intelligence isn’t actually something completely new to many of us, we use this kind of technology on a daily basis. If you have an iPhone for example, the Siri feature is a form of AI. In fact, all smart personal assistants are, including the Google and Samsung versions. Automated messages and voice recordings are often developed by intelligent machines also.
NI Business Info explains that many features of artificial intelligence are already familiar to us without us taking much notice of them. They list the following as familiar aspects of AI in the case of business management:
- Spam filters
- Smart email categorisation
- Voice to text features
- Smart personal assistants, such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now
- Automated responders and online customer support
- Process automation
- Sales and business forecasting
- Security surveillance
- Smart devices that adjust according to behaviour
- Automated insights, especially for data-driven industries (egg financial services or e-commerce)
Many cases of strong AI presence can be found today, it is just taking us a while to come to terms with the fact that in many ways we’re already familiar with the concept, and even often use it on a day to day basis. It’s easy to think driverless cars are the prime example of artificial intelligence going too far, but it can offer so much in terms of realistic achievements and improvements for businesses of all sizes.
Instead of fearing the potential impacts of AI, business owners will seek to embrace it closer in the future and allow it dictate key areas of their business. Though, there are obviously things to keep a watchful eye on and not everything about artificial intelligence is going to be positive. Letting a computer vision make decisions for you takes away a certain amount of human charm and we’ve all seen enough films to know what can go wrong with giving the machines room to think for themselves.
Should we be afraid?
Forbes states that, “At the core, artificial intelligence is about building machines that can think and act intelligently and includes tools such as Google’s search algorithms or the machines that make self-driving cars possible”. Though, you wouldn’t be wrong to fear the possibilities of AI in some cases, and used incorrectly, it could surely become a dangerous source of finding information that shouldn’t be accessible.
There are most certainly many AI applications that make our daily lives both easier and more convenient, nobody could argue against that. It’s the mass of personal information that AI systems can store about us that’s the worry. If that information was to fall into the wrong hands it could be used for immoral reasons, even from a business standpoint.
One of the main concerns surrounding AI is its potential use of social manipulation. Social media is a hotspot for target marketing as so many of us have accounts that we use every day, feeding it with what we like, how we like to communicate and who with. This means it can store information on us and target us with other products and services that it knows will be relevant to us as users.
It can also spread propaganda to consumers identified through algorithms and personal data. AI can target them and spread whatever information they like, in whatever format they will find most convincing, be it fact or fiction. We’ve seen examples of this in the UK during election periods and throughout the Brexit negotiations; it is wrongly used to sway public opinion one way or the other.
All worries concerning AI boil down to information ending up in the wrong hands, so the future of it will depend on our power to maintain information and not spread it to areas it doesn’t belong.
Boost business by implementing AI
Almost all areas of businesses can be boosted by the implementation of artificial intelligence, but some will find it to be more beneficial than others. IT for instance is an obvious area in which AI can easily aid workers and make life easier for everyday users.
In the case of IT, artificial intelligence could help to predict and therefore prevent maintenance requests, monitor network traffic, and analyse user engagements. All of this would be made easier with AI, and it’d have similar effects when used in other areas of business too.
In a marketing sense, AI can vastly alter how things are done in companies. Not only can it help businesses identify a target audience and profile the perfect client for you, it can also present you better ways of contacting, and advertising to the people that fit into that group. It can send potential consumers customised marketing and sales information that is deemed appropriate for them.
In a human resources environment, it could compile a list of potential candidates from a site such as LinkedIn and send them straight to you in a form of easily viewable data, such as a spreadsheet. This would once again save time for the worker, allowing them to focus on other things while waiting for the data to be collected.
The choice is yours
All in all, artificial intelligence largely makes people’s job roles much easier and their workloads more achievable in a day to day environment. Though, we must be careful how we use these new systems because the more we learn about them, the greater the amount of knowledge them seem to have on us. It will be a business by business decision when considering if we should further implement AI into our workplaces, but it seems that for many companies it could be a great, helpful step into the future for them.