How Artificial Intelligence Is Used in Business Right Now  

A review recently studied more than 150 artificial intelligence (AI) projects undertaken by companies in recent years — from small projects to the grandiose. What it found is that many of the big projects have made improvements, but many have not reached their end goal yet. For example, medical research into a cure for cancer has not come up with the cure but has netted other important discoveries. Three areas, in particular, are being effectively implemented and showing significant results:

  1. Automation of business processes

  2. Data analysis and insights

  3. Customer and employee engagement

Robotic Process Automation

The most common use of AI found in the analysis was the automation of tasks. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) uses software algorithms to mimic human behavior and automate manual tasks for speed and efficiency.

Some examples include:

●      Scanning legal documents to extract important information using natural language processing

●      Extracting data from email and call center software and inputting information into CRMs

●      Processing healthcare and insurance claims

●      Handling customer communications

RPA is often addressing a company’s low-hanging fruit. You might call it “AI-light” since most of the tasks don’t require deep learning although the sophistication of algorithms is growing rapidly.

Cognitive Insight

The second area HBR pointed to is the use of cognitive insights where algorithms are used to detect patterns in data. AI can see even minute changes in patterns where anomalies exist. With large data sets, it becomes difficult for humans to see these small changes. They are easy to miss. AI not only sees the patterns but can track the results to see how it influences future behavior. As such, it becomes smarter over time. AI can also be used to flag anomalies faster and take remedial action, if necessary.

Some examples include:

●      Identifying security threats to computer networks

●      Detection of insurance claim fraud or credit fraud in real-time

●      Predicting consumer behavior and buying intent

●      Nurturing customers at various stages of the buying journey

Cognitive insights using AI and machine learning are typically focused on large data sets.

Cognitive Engagement

Cognitive engagement involves using practices such as chatbots or intelligent agents that can employ natural language processing and complex decision trees.

Some examples include:

●      Product recommendation engines for retailers

●      Personalized delivery of website content based on customer history

●      Chatbots for customer service and support

●      Answering employee questions about policies or benefits

The Business Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

When surveyed by Deloitte, business leaders familiar with AI said their primary goal was to make existing products better. Here is how executives ranked the benefits:

●      51% - Enhance features, functions, and performance of products

●      36% - Optimize internal business operations

●      36% - Free up employees to work on higher-level tasks by using automation

●      35% - Make better business decisions

●      32% - Create new products

●      30% - Optimize processes, including sales and marketing

●      25% - Pursue new markets

Less than a quarter (22%) said they wanted to reduce personnel using automation.

Implementing AI In Business

As business leaders consider integrating AI solutions into their business, experts recommend a four-step process to achieve business goals.

  1. Understand the technology to make sure you are investing in the right capabilities. Executives should have realistic goals and understand the costs.

  2. Evaluate the organizational need and work with stakeholders to develop projects that benefit the organisation the most.

  3. Create pilot projects to test outcomes before launching throughout the company.

  4. Scale up when outcomes are successful.

Learning About AI In Business

Executives looking to learn more about AI and acquire the knowledge they need to maximize the benefits of AI in their organization can take an AI course

The ROI of AI

Another study showed mixed results for AI when it comes to the bottom line. 70% of companies surveyed reported no impact or minimal impact from AI in their organizations. Of the 90% of businesses that have invested in AI, only 40% report business gain within the past few years.

The study concludes that while some organizations have been able to successfully integrate AI into their business models, most businesses struggle to generate value with AI.

Yet, more than 90% of firms say they have at least some ongoing investment in AI development.

Business leaders need to understand the opportunities, challenges, and risks associated with artificial intelligence deployment before making investments.