Artificial Intelligence and Your Business

Stephen DeAngelis

September 07, 2018

If you think the hype about artificial intelligence (AI) has peaked, you’re probably going to be disappointed. In the coming years, new advances will be achieved, new claims will be made, new concerns will be raised, and, hopefully, a better understanding of AI will be obtained. Jason Bloomberg (@TheEbizWizard), founder and president of Intellyx, writes, “Of all the technologies that drive digital transformation in the enterprise, people often tout artificial intelligence (AI) as perhaps the most disruptive of all.”[1] Disruption in business is generally anathema; but, opportunities often arise out of uncomfortable situations. Business analyst Anthony Coggine (@anthonycoggine) notes, “It is an unspoken truth that AI is slowly incorporating itself into all major industries as well as our everyday lives. As a result, almost every developer on the planet is looking at AI to find an angle for entry.”[2]

At the dawn of the AI Age

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn most people believe AI is fully mature and ubiquitous in the business world. However, “Gartner states that according to its 2018 CIO Agenda Survey [only] four percent of CIOs have implemented artificial intelligence thus far. However, 46 percent of CIOs developed plans for AI implementation.”[3] In other words, we are still witnessing the dawn of the AI Age. According to the Gartner survey, one of the top concerns of business leaders is “being able to understand artificial intelligence, its use cases and how to apply it, while making the case with the board.” That probably explains why AI hasn’t rapidly penetrated the business world. The Gartner survey concluded business leaders want to go “beyond the hype and confusion regarding AI” and learn “how artificial intelligence can, for instance, enhance customer experience, help the organization to become more agile and efficient, save costs and drive digital transformation.” Business leaders can be forgiven for their unease about artificial intelligence. Sam Ransbotham (@Ransbotham), an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, observes, “Fast-improving technologies are fascinating but frustrating. When technologies progress quickly, executives can feel that they are on a treadmill with the carrot always dangling just out of reach.”[4] That’s never a comfortable feeling.

The ironic thing about artificial intelligence is that, even though it can generate anxiety, it can also help business executives overcome feelings of anxiety by helping them make better decisions. Theresa Johnson, a product manager at Airbnb, explained to Ransbotham, “Finding answers would be much easier if all information were structured in neat tables with a limited set of defined values for each column, all nicely filled in with no missing data. … But no company exists in this highly normalized world. Instead, data isn’t structured because it is inherently unstructured or the costs of adding structure are prohibitive.” AI platforms, like cognitive computing systems, can gather, integrate, and analyze both structured and unstructured data; providing actionable insights that improve enterprise decision-making. Better decisions mean less anxiety for decision-makers. There are other organizational benefits of implementing AI as well.

Some benefits of AI implementation

Because AI platforms can integrate all types of data, it can help all members of an organization work from a single version of the truth. It can capture subject matter expertise and ensure it’s not lost when employees depart. Mark van Rijmenam (@VanRijmenam), founder of Datafloq, identifies 30 ways AI can benefit organizations.[5] Those ways are:

1. Accelerating administrative processes.
2. Driving innovation.
3. Augmenting your employees to make them more effective and efficient.
4. Automating your customer service department.
5. Changing your company culture.
6. Communicating with your customers and employees.
7. Controlling your financial activities.
8. Creating new jobs.
9. Eliminating language barriers across your business units.
10. Empowering your employees at all levels.
11. Enhancing your (digital) security.
12. Ensuring data privacy for your customers and employees.
13. Expanding your marketing activities.
14. Fighting cyber-attacks and malware.
15. Forecasting your maintenance requirements.
16. Improving the customer experience across channels.
17. Increasing productivity.
18. Matching the perfect candidate for the right job.
19. Offloading routine work from employees and automate routine processes.
20. Optimizing your company’s investment activities.
21. Personalizing the marketing message.
22. Predicting consumer buying behavior.
23. Recommending better/new/other/additional products and services for your customers or employees.
24. Reducing risks across business units.
25. Scanning your physical inventory.
26. Shaping your sales activities.
27. Streamlining your decision-making processes.
28. Supervising your blue-collar workers.
29. Training your other algorithms.
30. Transforming corporate governance practices.

For a fuller discussion of each of these activities, read van Rijmenam’s full article.

Summary

Coggine concludes, “AI can be developed to do anything you want and can improve the lives of its users. For those reasons alone it is enough to get involved with the technology, but its real selling point is that it can be used with anything and make it better. Development in AI is not just a good idea, it’s the future. Getting started in AI will ensure that your business will be a part of a grand tech revolution that will not be missed.” Van Rijmenam adds, “Artificial Intelligence has the potential to completely change how we organize activities and run our businesses. AI will affect every part of your business and prevent it from lagging behind. It is important for organizations to start experimenting with AI as soon as possible.” Journalists from i-Scoop note, “The best artificial intelligence business projects address historical challenges that organizations always had but have never been able to address because they couldn’t possibly have enough workers to do so. AI augments the capabilities of the workers you have or will have.”[6] Kishore Durg (@kishore_durg), a senior managing director at Accenture, asserts studies have shown the “impact of AI technologies on business is projected to increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent and enable people to make more efficient use of their time. Soon, AI applications will be far-reaching, affecting every aspect of our lives.”[7]

Footnotes
[1] Jason Bloomberg, “Think You Know How Disruptive Artificial Intelligence Is? Think Again,” Forbes, 7 July 2018.
[2] Anthony Coggine, “The full benefits of artificial intelligence are still to be realized,” Information Management, 9 August 2018.
[3] Staff, “Artificial intelligence in business: CIO challenges and recommendations,” i-Scoop, 2018.
[4] Sam Ransbotham, “Get the Most Out of AI Today,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 25 July 2018.
[5] Mark van Rijmenam, “30 Ways How AI Will Change Your Business,” Algorithms Blog, 15 August 2018.
[6] Op. cit., i-Scoop staff
[7] Kishore Durg, “Putting the promises of artificial intelligence to the test,” Information Management, 20 July 2018.