Many people associate artificial intelligence (AI) with science fiction and robots, but that’s changing as AI technology becomes more prominent in daily life.
In business, AI has a wide range of uses. From administrative tasks to complex capabilities, AI is disrupting nearly every business in every industry.
Artificial intelligence is a broad term that refers to any type of computer software that engages in human-like activities, such as learning, planning and problem-solving. When presented with the same information as a human, AI has the ability to make similar decisions, so the technology is a simulation of intelligence.
One way to think of AI is as a superset of capabilities encompassing several technologies. Of these, the primary technologies used in business are:
Machine learning uses complex algorithms that allow a computer to learn from data and develop analytical models. This technology uses other disciplines, such as statistical analysis, physics and operations research, to create these insights. The key component of machine learning is that the machine isn’t programmed to work a specific way, but rather teaches itself patterns through an iterative process.
Neural networks mimic the way a human brain works by using interconnected nodes in the same way the brain uses neurons. Each unit applies to a relatively simple process or calculation, and then passes the input onto another layer, which applies another calculation, and so on. Each layer learns from the input of the previous one, leading to connections and insights that one pass couldn’t achieve.
Deep learning leverages large neural networks with numerous layers, or depth. Deeper networks and advanced capabilities allow the network to develop complex patterns from massive data sets.
Rules-based systems are a foundational discipline that uses logic statements, primarily if-then and true-false statements, to establish a system based on predetermined rules.
Predictive analytics applies statistical techniques to predict causal relationships. Predictive analytics is a well-established concept, but its capabilities are enhanced in AI.
Pattern recognition allows AI to classify and interpret input from its surroundings. These may involve natural language processing, such as Amazon’s Alexa smart home devices, and computer vision that uses a machine to analyse environmental input and glean insights.
The combination of these technologies creates a system of capabilities that allows AI devices to become cognitive and respond in a human-like fashion to their environment without human intervention.
AI is working its way into numerous industries and business roles as more and more of its capabilities are realised and refined. Here are some examples:
AI shows a lot of promise for financial analytics. The technology is currently used in applications like Google Analytics, and the ability to read monetary results and relate them to specific business decisions is a capability that would benefit many businesses.
Online help centres already use AI in the form of chat windows that direct you to another area of a site. If AI is integrated with voice-activated capabilities, companies can use AI to replace help desks and call lines.
Analytics is taking AI into all types of business fields besides finance, particularly marketing. By analysing the data of consumer trends and the performance metrics of marketing campaigns, AI can be used to develop a more effective marketing strategy. AI’s ability to learn, paired with the lack of the human fatigue element, can create a system with more accurate data-based insights than a human.
With trend prediction, all data is compiled and analysed at one time, giving users the most logical solution. Trend prediction is already in use in certain industries, but marketing can use it to tactically plan the most successful and effective campaigns before putting budget into them.
AI is in use as a tool to manage schedules, benefits, payroll and administrative tasks, so the next step would be planning and self-organising. This could free managers or human resources representatives to handle other aspects of the job that require a human touch.
Learn more on how AI is transforming CRM with smart predictions, intelligent recommendations, and timely automation.
AI is beginning to make what was once considered impossible possible, such as driverless cars. This is only a possibility because of accompanying technology, such as fast graphics processing units. As the accompanying technology advances, the applications for artificial intelligence software will also increase.
Though many fear that AI in the future will mean robots doing human work, leading to millions of unemployed workers, that’s far from the anticipated reality. AI is changing the structure of the workplace, but the shift is to an environment with automation replacing administrative tasks, leaving humans to manage creative roles and use their time more effectively.