More brands than ever are recognizing the importance of digital transformation in today’s market. Learn potential use cases for AI in business that you can leverage today.
Despite promises (and fears) of AI technologies taking over industries and delivering results that human teams could only dream of, the current reality of artificial intelligence in 2021 is a very different story. While AI in business continues to make great strides in some areas, in others it’s severely lacking. Still, today’s digital transformation needs necessitate utilizing these technologies—or at least familiarizing your teams with them. With such a wide range of uses and applications, getting your organizational teams ready and willing to work with AI is key to innovation, building organizational resilience, and ultimately achieving ROI.
The current state of AI in business
As of 2020, only around 10% of companies are actively using AI. And most of these ambitious companies are larger—with much more resources to invest in and explore these technologies than most. But as the pandemic demonstrated to businesses just how important it was to cultivate an active digital presence, so too did it underlie the importance of building up capabilities around artificial intelligence and machine learning. With AI expected to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, making the most of it will be key to businesses thriving in today’s digital-first landscape.
Along with investing more time and resources, bridging the AI gap will also require a willingness from business professionals to dispel common myths and help teams upskill.
Applications your business could adopt today
As of now, AI in business is largely relegated to one of three different spaces.
Customer engagement through tools like chatbots and voice-activated assistants
Automation of menial administrative and financial processes and tasks
Data analytics and organization
These umbrella areas make up the backbone of most AI in business applications today. Let’s zoom into a few more specific AI applications your business could adopt quickly and easily without much hassle.
Robotic process automation
One of the most commonly utilized types of artificial intelligence in business today, robotic process automation, or RPA, involves automating away tedious and low-value business tasks in order to free up more time for teams to focus on high-value projects. For example, keeping track of and updating important information like addresses and phone numbers has long been a key function of administrative workers in sectors like healthcare. But these tasks are also time consuming and don’t contribute much ROI. By automating small but time-consuming tasks like these, teams can focus on more high-value tasks—like communicating with customers directly.
Built on fairly simple code, RPA is one of the simplest and cost-effective ways to integrate AI into your business’s workflow. And thanks to its low cost and high value, RPA also lends itself to a big return on investment.
Today’s consumers want fast, reliable, and friendly customer service 24/7. While that’s an impossible task for human customer service workers, chatbots are an effective way to deliver great service whenever and wherever. The simplest of chatbots fall into the automation category of AI, deploying human-written copy to ask questions and get consumers the information they need. These are the cheapest to deploy, and can often be integrated into wherever your business has an active digital presence, like social media sites.
More advanced chatbots use artificial intelligence to mimic human speech and learn from customer queries in real-time, but this tech is still in its infancy. We’ll expand more on this emerging AI tech later.
Cognitive insight analytics
Being able to recognize and analyze patterns in vast data sets is becoming increasingly important for businesses. But as data sets become too large for humans to quickly organize and parse through, cognitive insight algorithms are lending a hand. A type of machine learning, these applications are broad in their use, and can be used to simply identify patterns, or actively offer recommendations and predictions based on the data present. For a small business, an application of this AI tech could be an algorithm that helps predict what a specific customer might buy next based on recent purchases. For a more complex example of cognitive insights in action, look to platforms like Netflix that provide watching recommendations based on a variety of different variables.
The road ahead
The future of AI in business is promising indeed. From enabling teams to do better work to helping drive digital transformation and job creation, there’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to AI in business.
Still, getting to that level of competency will require businesses to go toe-to-toe with AI hesitancy. While the widespread adoption of AI is forecasted to eliminate 85 million jobs and create 97 million new ones by 2025 (a net of 12 million brand new jobs), many are misinformed and suspicious of the role this technology will play in the future of their business. Proactively educating teams and engaging them in upskilling programs will be one of the best ways to combat those fears.
As for the potential roles artificial intelligence will play in business, there are many applications to look forward to, including the following:
Natural language processing
As we mentioned earlier, chatbots are becoming a widely-adopted customer service tool. But the future of chatbots lies in their ability to converse with users without the limitations of pre-written scripts. Natural language processing, or NLP, will help propel the future of chatbots forward by allowing customers to ask questions and get answers on virtually any topic related to the brand they’re interacting with. While current NLP applications are quite limited in scope and ability, they will inevitably grow in intelligence over the next decade, creating a new generation of customer-facing AI.
Voice-activated personal assistants like Siri and Alexa have already grown massively in the past decade, helping people do everything from schedule flights to previewing the upcoming week’s weather, all via simple voice commands. As these technologies grow, they’ll be able to offer more abilities, and brands will be able to leverage them to engage with consumers at home. For example, brands could issue coupon codes via TV commercials that people could then redeem via voice-activation.
One of the most exciting real-life examples of AI development in business is AR. One of the chief challenges of eCommerce is people’s inability to try products before they buy them. And while nothing but an in-store experience can remedy that completely, AI-driven augmented reality applications can help customers “see” what products would look like on them in real time on their smartphone cameras.
Moving forward, these applications could also recommend certain products based on a person’s style, age, hair color, and more to create a truly personalized shopping experience each time.
What you can do today
While the future of AI in business is exciting at a top-level, the reality many businesses will face is a total digital reconstruction. Facing advancing technologies is no easy task, and training your employees to do it is expensive.
Luckily, there are startups and companies quickly adapting to these technologies—and the business models that maximize your ROI the most. If you’re interested in getting started with AI in your business, reach out to us. We can connect you with any one of our 50+ affiliate AI companies, who partnered with us to meet people like you.