Artificial Intelligence (AI), like computers and mass production lines before it, is the next major link in the chain of technologies that have transformed the way the world conducts business.
Originally coined in 1956, the term ‘artificial intelligence’ colloquially refers to machinery that can mimic the human capacity to learn and solve problems. Over 50 years later, AI is now reaching a stage of development where it’s really beginning to bear a substantial influence within our day-to-day lives.
For the vast majority of us, AI is remains shrouded in an aura of the unknown. The film industry has long cashed in on fears stimulated by the concept of intelligent autonomous robots. Within recent years eminent figures in science and technology including Steven Hawking and Elon Musk have added credence to these fears by publicly voicing concerns over AI’s dangerous future potential. And wider debates surrounding the idea that some emerging AI technologies are on the cusp of replacing millions of human jobs have added even further to public anxiety.
But despite the concerns, AI is already benefiting us and has the equal potential to benefit us a whole lot more. Many of us are familiar with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, and the convenience that these instances of AI technologies bring to daily lives. But the ways in which AI is currently shaping brands and how they function, and how it will continue to do so in the future, is less commonly understood.
So here are a few ways in which AI is, can, and will be implemented in the businesses of today and the not so distant future.
Automate routine tasks
As many of us are aware, robots have already been employed in manufacturing for some time, especially in the field of car and vehicle production. In these roles, automated robots complete routine tasks with much greater speed and efficiency than a traditional human workforce.
But now automation is spreading from the factories and into offices. Allocating AI the responsibility for performing basic everyday office tasks is often time and cost effective as AI can perform many such tasks faster, and with a greatly reduced scope for error than a human. In some instances, this kind of office automation is already possible.
It’s also claimed however, that automation in the office will soon yield additional, knock-on benefits. One argument contends that alleviating the burden of mundane tasks from office workers presents brands with a golden opportunity to up-skill their employees. With automation covering menial jobs, more employees are available to focus on the important tasks that really make brands their money, and the brands themselves would have more time and money to train them to do so. More automation certainly appears to be waiting not far beyond today’s horizon.
Make the most of data
If it hasn’t already, data is fast becoming the world’s most valuable resource. And AI is much more adept at analysing, recognising patterns within, and making use of data than humans. With big data clouds becoming more and more readily accessible, AI is opening up many lucrative new opportunities to optimise data analysis.
The generation of more, and better quality business leads is one such opportunity. With knowledge of your brand’s target audience, AI has the capacity to mine huge banks of data and draw out potential customer matches at a fraction of the time the same task would take a human to complete. Aiding key business decisions is another. Through thorough analysis of CRM data AI can offer up useful, and otherwise difficult to spot customer information. This information can be used to help make top-level decisions such as which customers a brand should be focusing on, and in some companies, it already is.
Marketing, sales and advertising data can all be similarly subjected to the keen scrutiny of AI, which can then shed intelligent illuminations on what’s working and what’s not. One app, SalesForce’s Einstein, uses AI technology to analyse all forms of customer interaction with a brand. Using the resulting analysis, Einstein can gauge customer mood and detect correlations and patterns in customer behaviour. This then enables brands to predict customer intensions, offer more effective customer service and even develop personalised marketing and ad campaigns. AI, it would appear, is the key to cracking the real benefits to be had from data.
Optimise your office
Smart meters are already here. But it’s thought that before long AI will be capable of optimising almost every adjustable environmental aspect of an office. Heating, cooling, lighting, even acoustics will all be automatically adjusted to their optimum settings depending on the time of year, function and agenda. AI will also have the ability to make energy saving suggestions through the interpretation of energy usage data. Together, this all adds up to offices with improved energy efficiency and with environments more conducive to staff’s working practices and well-being.
Whether the advent of AI heralds a bright new future or a robotic dystopia, remains to be seen. What can be said for sure is that AI will, and already is, transforming workplaces and operations within them. AI has huge potential to help shape brands by augmenting our endeavours in the workplace, raising efficiency and narrowing margins of human error. So expect it to feature in yours with much greater prominence in the very near future.