Artificial intelligence (AI) and its associated machine learning technologies have made huge strides over the past two decades. What used to be science fiction is now an engineering fact, as automation is causing rapid change in our lives. It's also making an impact on the business world. Here are just a few ways that companies are using AI technology today.
The Internet of Things is a new phrase referring to the omnipresent nature of computing in our lives. In business terms, the addition of computers to otherwise mundane appliances like fax machines and security allows an unprecedented level of connectivity. The ability of this phenomenon to drive computational complexity by distributing processing capability across multiple devices is aiding the creation of the IoT in general. Distributed neural network systems and cloud data storage are just two of the offshoots of this trend towards radical networking, and there are sure to be more developments in the near term.
Making accurate growth forecasts takes an enormous amount of data to do right. We live in an age of big data, but that information needs to be processed with skill in order to be understood. Enter artificial intelligence. Algorithms are getting better and better at analyzing data sets and drawing accurate conclusions from them. AI can handle both structured and unstructured data, and machine learning, in particular, is adept at making the connections necessary to solid analytics. According to figures in 2020, only 15% of businesses were increasing their use of AI because it's so new, but adoption will likely scale with increasing versatility as algorithms evolve.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is actually a subset of the larger field of business process automation and is also called software robotics. Two applications are standouts currently: chatbots for customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) software. In the first case, advances in natural language processing (NLP) are enabling formerly awkward bots to better emulate human conversation patterns. In other words, they learn. CRM often includes digital outreach but covers much more ground. It involves the automation of many elements of a sales campaign, from keeping track of a large number of individual transactions to helping remote sales teams stay connected. As the IoT grows and diversifies, so will artificial intelligence applications in RPA.
It's hard enough to predict the behavior of markets; predicting the behavior of customers can seem impossible. AI is helping to bridge the gap between knowledge of consumers gained through traditional market research techniques and real customer behavior patterns. Behavioral intent prediction is used by marketers to scrutinize the results of customer feedback surveys, however, it goes far beyond that. Personal behavior patterns (including social media habits) and customer service calls can tell more about customer intent simply because they offer more data for the algorithm to crunch. There's been some backlash, with many seeing it as an invasion of privacy, but this technology is likely too useful to go away anytime soon.
Supply chains are infamously vulnerable to disruption when a disaster strikes or the market shifts. There's a quiet revolution happening involving 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology. If and when this becomes robust, supply chain concerns could become a thing of the past, with items being printed onsite from raw feedstock materials like resins and polymers instead of having to be shipped. How does AI fit in? Computer-aided design (CAD) models are integral to the process, and AI programs could in the future help optimize generative design, which uses complicated geometries to build objects. Additionally, the feedstock materials in additive manufacturing systems are already applied using computer guidance, so developments in machine learning could make this process more efficient.
There's no replacing the human element in business. That being said, artificial intelligence is certainly carving out a valuable niche by taking over the more tedious tasks of doing business, which gives human operators the freedom to do what they do best: innovation.
Publish Date: January 17, 2022 5:53 PM