Humans are an essential part of every business. In fact, every business currently in existence has at least one human behind the wheel, directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, humans also come with a lot of disadvantages – they have to sleep and eat, they get tired, and they often make mistakes.
Would it be possible to replace some of these humans with machines? Can we create a machine that acts intelligently? And how do we do that?
Artificial intelligence is a discipline which is trying to answer these questions. No wonder it is one of the hottest buzzwords in the business world right now. This is no surprise considering all the opportunities it opens, supporting the organizations in their digital transformation.
What can AI do?
Artificial Intelligence makes it possible for machines to learn from experience and perform tasks similar to how humans would. It is not difficult to see that having machines that do tasks that humans do as well, or even better than humans do would bring many benefits. However, many are concerned that development of AI can also be a threat to humanity. For example, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said “Mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes”.
Many of the world’s big tech players employ AI and spend millions of dollars in research and development to become leaders in the field. They understand the need to embrace this technology in order to stay competitive in the ever-changing market. It is almost impossible to find a large company that isn’t using AI heavily.
You might have found this page using Google, which used AI to match the phrase you keyed in to this article. Having enjoyed reading this article, you might decide to share it with your friends on Facebook. Facebook will then show that post to your friends which enjoy your content the most. How will it do that? Again, the answer is AI.
Next, you might see an ad for a product that you like, which was selected by AI. You click on it, and you get taken to Amazon. Beside the product you clicked on, Amazon will gladly show you other products that are similar to the one you’re looking at. By now, it’s probably not surprising that it does that using AI.
Conversely, organizations that aren’t yet using AI are missing out on a lot of potential benefits. There is no better time than now for your business to join this club and start using Artificial Intelligence. Let’s explore some of the benefits you could reap when you decide to do so.
The Top 7 Ways AI Can Help Your Business
1. Enhance business processes
What if we tell you that your company can reduce costs and better allocate resources, so it will become more competitive in the market? Fortunately, this can become reality. With the power of AI, you can easily optimize your business processes.
By automating both digital and physical tasks you can improve business operations. This is commonly done using ‘robotic process automation’ (RPA), as it is considered one of the least expensive and most accessible forms of AI.
Another useful application of AI is supporting your organization’s human resource department. Everyone with experience in hiring can tell you that finding the right people is not easy. Going over hundreds of resumes and candidates manually might turn out to be inefficient and even lead to missing a good talent. With the help of AI, you can screen resumes and rank candidates according to their level of qualification, predict candidate success in given roles and automate repetitive communication tasks.
2. Create a personalized experience for your customers
One size does not fit all. You probably have heard that many times – and this is more than ever relevant to the way you should treat your customers. Marketing methods and techniques have shifted from being more general to embracing the more personalized approach. According to research by Deloitte 36% of customers express an interest in purchasing customized services or products.
The capabilities of AI to assess and absorb excessive amounts of data and utilize different types of information, such as demographics, gender, buying behavior, content engagement, and interaction creates the capability of developing distinctive consumer identities. By the use of these identities, businesses can match customers with preferred products or services. A great example is Netflix’s AI-enabled suggestion engine, which helps the company to offer customized recommendations to its customers, resulting in a higher engagement rate and improved customer retention.
3. Optimize customer support
The power of chatbots is undeniable. It makes it so much easier for businesses to deliver the needed information or support to their customers. Chatbots also are a great tool in supporting marketing efforts. Integrating them within your social media channels will drive more leads and sales. For example, Facebook has realized the power of chatbots, providing marketers, and businesses with the ability to connect their ads with Facebook Messenger and drive more timely actions.
Looking at the e-commerce industry, almost every top brand provides assisted shopping. AI-enabled customer assistants could help out buyers with answering questions, giving them the information about their order status, and where to find the product they are looking for based on keywords.
Traditional support requires human resources that are costly and hard to manage. That is one of the main reasons why businesses now more than ever turn to AI to optimize customer support.
4. Get intelligent insights from your data
If you’re striving to continuously improve your business, it’s likely that you’re trying to gather a lot of data about what and how you’re doing things. However, did you ever feel like you’re not understanding what all of that data actually means? Or how to transform factual data into information where to steer your business?
For example, suppose you know that 80% of your income comes from selling product or service A, and the rest from the product or service B. What does this mean though? Should you try to sell more of A? Or perhaps less? Would it make sense to spend more in promoting A? Or vice versa?
Questions like these can often be answered harnessing the power of artificial intelligence.
5. Understand and create images, sounds and language
In the last few years, AI has become incredibly good in understanding images and language, and even in generating it.
Suppose you have a database of images, and you want to find all images that contain cats. This is quite a complex task for a machine – it first needs to understand the word “cat”, and translate it into a concept of a small, furry animal. Secondly, it has to check every image and “see” what is shown on each image, and only select those that contain cats. But even this can be done reasonably well using AI.
This simple example involved a few techniques – first we have used natural language processing to transform the word cat into something understandable to a machine. We’ve also used digital image processing to transform the individual images to something a machine can understand. We’ve then combined the two techniques to create an useful result.
Some other tasks where AI can help:
- Translations from one language to another (again, this is a task in natural language processing)
- Labeling images (given an image, generate a text that would describe what it contains)
- Generating new images from a given input (https://thispersondoesnotexist.com/ shows almost photorealistic images of people that don’t actually exist, image generation)
- Transforming images ones with different style (imagine Mona Lisa painted by Van Gogh) – this uses a technique called style transfer
- Transcribing audio to text – sound processing and natural language generation
Furthermore, many of these tasks can be chained. For example, imagine the following steps:
- Transcribing audio in English (to text)
- Translating this text to French
- Reading the French text, producing audio as an output
Systems achieving these can today already be built using AI techniques.
Furthermore, the AI has advanced so far today that it can even create art. In doing that, the developers normally train it by giving it thousands and thousands different works of art. Then, they use what AI has learned to create art that will often appear as if it was done by a human. Here are some examples of paintings (https://www.artaigallery.com/) and music (https://openai.com/blog/musenet/) which was created by AI.
6. Emulate or replace human experts – expert systems
Artificial Intelligence technologies can be used to emulate the expertise and decision-making by a human expert. A system which emulates such an expert is called an expert system. An example of this would be a system replacing your doctor. Based on your full medical history and your test results, it might diagnose you and suggest a treatment.
It is interesting to note that expert systems are one of the oldest applications of artificial intelligence, dating back to the 1970s. It is also one of its first successful applications.
Traditional expert systems typically rely on a vast knowledge base. This knowledge base will contain as much domain knowledge as possible. Following the doctor example, it would contain information about the human body, all possible diseases, and so on – basically the information doctors themselves have been learning in order to become experts.
A knowledge base within an expert system typically consists of facts and rules. The systems use these facts and rules and use them to derive new facts. This process of derivation is called inference – and it is normally done by the subsystem called inference engine, using the rules of formal logic. Inference engine and previously mentioned knowledge base are the two components of an expert system.
The output of an expert system will normally include the newly inferred facts in a human-readable form. Furthermore, the derivation steps used can also be presented in a human-readable form, serving as an explanation why and how the conclusions were made.
In recent times, the traditional approach might also be replaced or complemented by new methods in machine learning. These methods can sometimes help the systems operate with more data and generalize better.
However, they sometimes compromise the explainability of the conclusions the system makes. As mentioned above, a traditional expert system will normally be able to “explain” how and why it derived its conclusions. But with some machine learning approaches, this might not be possible. This can leave a human expert without a possibility to check the system’s logic, which is especially relevant if a recommendation is an unusual one.
7. Detect anomalies
Artificial intelligence can be used to detect abnormalities within a dataset. Abnormalities are data points which differ from the other data points in some specific way.
The interesting part of it is that it can work even if you don’t tell the system which of the previous examples have been anomalous. This means that the system can learn something useful even if we ourselves don’t actually know how to identify those.
A common use for this technique is fraud detection. This means that, given the characteristics of the financial transaction (amount, location, time, etc), we need to decide whether the transaction is fraudulent or legitimate. The majority of the transactions are legitimate, so a fraudulent one will clearly be an exception. However, we don’t normally know how to recognize such a transaction (otherwise, it would have been blocked already).
A further example would be predicting faults based on the data from the sensors even before they happen. In a complex environment such as a factory, there are probably dozens of sensors monitoring machine temperature, air temperature, humidity, etc. Often, it’s possible to get a hint that something is wrong even before a catastrophic failure happens.
More and more of the technologies we are using in our everyday lives are powered by AI. This ranges anywhere from asking Siri about the best restaurant in town to parking our car autonomously.
You most likely want to run your business more efficiently, and better understand what’s happening. Similarly, your customers demand better and personalized products and services. If your business doesn’t provide it, it’s more and more likely your competitors will.
To make sure you don’t fall behind, contact us today to see how can we improve your business with artificial intelligence.