Artificial Intelligence and Business

According to a Forbes article, titled ‘How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing Business In 2017’, 84 percent of those who participated in a study believe artificial intelligence will give them a competitive advantage in their business, while three-quarters of the respondents believe artificial intelligence will introduce new, innovative business ventures for them. These statistics came from a study done by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review in which more than 3,000 business executives from 21 industries and 112 countries were interviewed.

Despite the overall positive feelings regarding artificial intelligence, there were substantial gaps between those business leaders who had already adopted AI—and understood the technology—and those who had not. In fact, the researchers took the final results of the study and divided the respondents into four groups: Pioneers, Investigators, Experimenters and Passives (about 20 percent were considered Passives, meaning they had made no move to integrate AI into their business, and had no plans to do so). Further results of the study included:

– 72 percent of the telecommunications, media and technology respondents expect artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on product offerings within the next five years.
– The public business sector expects to see the least effect from artificial intelligence over the next five years.
– Although all the respondents expressed high expectations for artificial intelligence in the future, less than a quarter of those respondents currently incorporate AI into their product and service offerings today.
– More than half of the respondents currently have no plans to adopt artificial intelligence technologies into their business—even though they believe the technology will have a serious impact on product offerings.
– Nearly two-thirds of all the organizations interviewed believe developing an AI strategy is necessary, yet only about half actually have such a strategy.

Understanding Artificial Intelligence and How it Relates to Business

Although many of us equate artificial intelligence primarily with robots, the technology is much farther-reaching than that. Artificial intelligence essentially refers to using machines to do things we, as human beings, consider to be “intelligent”—i.e., doing things humans generally do by using their brains. Physical artificial intelligence encompasses robotics and self-driving vehicles, while artificial intelligence associated with computers, includes video processing and image processing—along with many more processes. Sophia the Robot is a prime example of physical artificial intelligence; Sophia is a machine which can impersonate human facial expressions and engage in “normal” conversations. The longer Sophia talks to people, the better she is at picking up speech and body language cues and patterns. Sophia even has her own Facebook page – Sophia the Robot.

There is also artificial intelligence associated with natural language processing—both spoken and written—as well as conversational interfacing and virtual agents. In actuality, your smartphone incorporates certain types of artificial intelligence such as spell-checking your emails and text messages, performing a type of machine “learning.” Siri and Alexa also “learn” the more you use them, and the new iPhone X learns facial recognition as a method to unlock your phone.

Which Business Processes are Intertwined with Artificial Intelligence?

When applied to business, AI technologies underpin a lot of the processes used in e-commerce, media, suggestions for things consumers might be interested in purchasing, and using statistical methods to bring consumers more of the things they are interested in. In the healthcare industry, there are experiments being done with long and short-term memory networks, and artificial intelligence machines are becoming better at detecting cancer from MRIs and X-rays than even the most experienced medical doctor.

Machines which learn have the capacity to hold huge amounts of data, whether voice data, physical world data or transactional data—or a combination of all three. This level of data can vastly extend analytical work such as forecasting a huge problem, in any number of fields. These problems could deal with the manufacturing process, the supply chain, or any number of other business processes. Although it will likely take decades for the full impact of artificial intelligence technologies to really blossom, if you are a business whose success really depends on competing against your business competitors, this time period may actually go by pretty quickly.

Are you using your data in a constructive way to build competitive advantage in your industry?

Audrey Nesbitt

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