You can’t pull up a news feed without reading articles about AI and how it is transforming business. It can be tempting to think you need to jump in with both feet and launch new initiatives that take advantage of AI technology.
Here’s the reality: You’re already using AI tools every single day (and you might not realize it).
- Suggested responses to emails
- Noise suppression and voice enhancement
- Call transcription
- Customized newsfeeds
- Product “recommendations”
- Facial recognition (for unlocking our devices, as just one example)
There are so many more examples that we don’t even think about daily.
AI technology is developing rapidly – and that’s just one of the reasons we’re hearing so much about it. There are many new and exciting ways you’ll be seeing companies use AI and integrate its capabilities into their business such as:
- Turning data from a disparate range of sources into actionable intelligence
- Automating routine tasks to help boost productivity
- Analyzing existing information, patterns and inquiries to gain powerful insights into your customers or your business
- Improve and personalize customer interactions
- Become more responsive
And there is so much more potential for how AI can improve performance and accelerate growth.
Worldwide artificial intelligence (AI) market, including software, hardware, and services, will post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6% in the 2022-2026. IDC
Why’s Everyone Talking AI
Before we jump into the practical business applications of AI, let’s take a step back and look at why AI is getting so much attention. It’s not new technology. In fact, the foundational work for AI started in early 1900s.
But AI is just now reaching a tipping point of being useful and widely available for anyone to use.
Today, organizations like OpenAI, Microsoft, Google and many others are making massive investments to develop and train AI models, which is just one of the reasons the technology is advancing so rapidly. These organizations are also embedding AI into their existing solutions. These investments are making AI, generative AI, Machine Learning and NLP much more accessible.
It’s hard to believe ChatGPT was only released in November 2022 and is already making big waves, but it’s important to remember that AI is more than ChatGPT. There are many generative AI tools including GitHub Copilot, Midjourney, AlphaCode, Bard, and Dall-E. Each one has a distinct focus and application.
It’s equally important to remember that while generative AI is getting a lot of attention, it’s only one part of the AI puzzle.
Applications for AI in Business
Major tech companies are making launch announcements for new and exciting AI tools every day it seems. While it may all seem overwhelming and confusing at the moment, what is clear is that the possibilities of AI are endless and not limited to any industry, business size or business unit.
Here are a few examples of how AI can be used to enhance customer experience, boost productivity or gain efficiencies.
- Scan and categorize documents based on sentiment, such as positive reviews, complaints, or suggestions for improvement.
- Using images to capture what employees are seeing at a job site and instantly categorizing those images for streamlined reporting.
- Natural language processing technology, which lets field technicians record their findings and have those recordings transcribed, cleaned up and used to generate reports faster than waiting for staff to return to the office.
- Automate, monitor, and manage IT infrastructure, networks and systems for issues or breaches. Machine learning algorithms can quickly identify security threats and suggest solutions.
- Robotics is already improving efficiency and productivity on manufacturing lines and AI-enabled can speed product inspection and defect detection, as well as offering real-time predictive maintenance reminders and waste reduction strategies.
- NLP can extract relevant information from unstructured medical records and make it available and useable.
- For salespeople, auto-generated opportunity sales summaries, contextual email content and document creation, as well as lead scoring and accurate demand forecasting can help them close more deals.
- Retailers can leverage AI to conduct customer sentiment analysis or offer personalized purchase recommendations and special offers tailored to unique buying patterns.
- In education, AI can deliver tutoring systems, automated grading and assessment and learning data analysis to identify patterns and areas of improvement so teachers can focus on their students unique or specific needs.
38% indicated that customer experience and retention is the primary purpose of their generative AI investments. This was followed by revenue growth (26%), cost optimization (17%) and business continuity (7%). Gartner
Embarking on the AI Journey
Boston Consulting Group says “the true role of AI: it’s an artificial, amplified, augmented form of intelligence, not a wholesale alternative to human ingenuity.”
It’s important to align any technology to a business strategy and the same is true about AI. It can yield the greatest benefits when it is closely tied to a strategic imperative or business goal, and projects are defined with a very specific vision. Boston Consulting Group outlines these questions which are a great starting point for the discussion:
- Where do we have underutilized data that is critical for our business functions?
- Can this data be easily used to fine-tune an existing generative AI model?
- Can we transform this data into another format (from numerical data to visual data, for example) to leverage existing generative AI systems?
- What outputs do we expect and where in our organization could these outputs be used?
There are many potential benefits to bringing AI solutions into business, but it’s equally important to realize there’s no AI easy button. It takes effort and knowledge to create solution that can deliver real business benefits. Many of the latest tools can speed the implementation process but the technology remains complex.
When it comes to determining if you need to create an AI solution for your business from scratch or customize an existing AI-driven tool, we recommend you approach it the same way you evaluate custom software development. Similar criteria for whether to select off-the-shelf versus custom come into play here as well.
Whether you’re building a new AI solution or customizing an existing one, consulting with a technology expert can help you to identify and implement the correct toolsets, configure datasets, integrate the solutions into your operations, and ensure you’ve taking all relevant factors into consideration.
52% say one of the biggest obstacles to AI implementation is establishing a clear use case for new technologies. Gartner
A Few More Considerations
The AI tools available today are quite impressive with a lot of out-of-the-box functionality. But it’s important to remember that leveraging these tools does require knowledge to avoid problems – especially if you are planning to integrate them into other corporate systems.
As a business, you need to create policies and structures around the use of AI. Our technological past is riddled with amazing initiatives that needed to be reigned in and structured. AI is no different. There are significant security and governance considerations.
In addition, it’s important to remember AI is not perfect. You can’t simply let it loose and forget about it. Businesses need to review the material being developed for accuracy. There needs to be a human component to any AI solution.
Are You Ready for AI?
According to HubSpot, 43% of business leaders say they plan to increase their investment in AI/automation tools over the course of 2023. If you’re looking to incorporate AI, ML or NLP in your business, we can help. Let’s chat.