News, Culture & Society

Artificial Intelligence And Its Impact On Business

A 1957 advertisement for the US’ Electric Light and Power Companies featuring the driverless car of the future says it all.

A family of four are travelling in a car. The mother and daughter are playing a board game while the son is busy making paper aeroplanes. The father is content watching his family, and all this while the car zips away on a highway, all by itself!

The image is a resonance of the human ambition to live life the smart way.

Take for example a smart home. Do you forget to carry the keys to your flat? Do you suddenly panic in office trying to remember whether the induction cooker is off? A smart home will take care of all this and more.

It can also sense when you arrive and turn on the lights and switch it off when not required. A smart home will even alert you when you are running out of toilet paper.

All this is possible thanks to artificial intelligence. Simply put, artificial intelligence is a technology which helps machines mimic humans, by understanding what we can and perform actions by taking the appropriate decision. This makes learning essential.

There are two main categories of AI systems – weak and strong.

  • A Weak or Narrow AI system is trained for a particular task. The best example is Siri.
  • A Strong AI system is one which is built to find a solution to a problem on its own without human aid.

Types of AI systems

There are four types of AI systems which are classified based on their functionalities.

  • Type-1 or Reactive machines: These systems have no memory. A famous example would be the IBM chess program that beat Gary Kasparov.
  • Type-2 or Limited memory: These systems have past information to make future decisions. A good example would be self-driving cars.
  • Type-3 or Theory of Mind: These systems understand a human being’s emotions which helps them in social interactions. This type of AI system does not exist yet.
  • Type-4 or Self-awareness: We can call this a perfect mimic of the human being. But arriving at this would take many more years of research and would be a dream come true.

Ethical and security concerns

If the autopilot system of a self-driving car is hacked, it could lead to a disaster. Such cases raise serious security concerns.

Ethically, too, videos generated by AI tools could be used for cheating and in extreme cases, at the more significant geopolitical level, could trigger disputes if world leaders jump to conclusions. A word of caution over the use of AI is mandatory.

AI in business

But how can this technology be used constructively in your business enterprise?

As AI adds more tools under its kitty, organisations that fail to embrace advancements will fall behind the competition. And no sector is immune to this as experts feel there won’t be a sphere of human activity that AI will fail to have an impact.

From healthcare to agriculture, advancements in AI technology is already changing the business landscape, and your enterprise cannot be left far behind.

Let us see what AI can do to your organisation.

  • Intuition and insights:

UK mathematician Clive Humby famously said: “Data is the new oil, but if unrefined it cannot be used…” And rightfully so.

Today, we are generating tonnes of data but what use is it if it remains merely lost in the cloud and an organisation is unable to decipher it to throw meaningful insights?

AI can help enterprises mine data, extract and process it to find patterns and trends. AI can help process billions of data points quickly and efficiently, and the system also adopts and learns every time it is put to use.

The insights will help the management make impactful decisions and provides shareholders projections for the future.

  • Ushering in automation:

Most of the interactions with customers are done today through emails, telephone calls, online chat and social media. AI helps automate these modes of communication.

Digital assistants are set to take over the duty of handling a survey, while AI-powered chatbots can assist a customer at any time of the day. Coupled with Machine Learning Algorithms, interactive platforms can become more efficient.

  • Automation at the operational level:

AI systems can be used to automate tasks in many businesses. E.g. Dubai already has robot police, the first of its kind in the world. The Robocop can recognise gestures and facial expressions to interact suitably.

  • Personalised experience: One of the best ways to increase customer engagement and brand loyalty to boost sales is by providing a customised experience.

AI systems can identify patterns in customer behaviour, both browsing and purchasing. Out of the millions of transactions stored in the cloud, AI systems can offer individual customers the offer they are most likely to choose.

  • Better recruitment:

Once the specifications are determined, the AI systems will run a thorough check of all applications, without bias, and shortlist candidates who suit the company profile. This reduces the additional cost of outsourcing the recruitment process to an external agency.

  • Better utilisation of staff:

Do all your employees spend 100% of their time executing their primary duties? Studies have revealed that in the US alone, employees spent just 45% of the time on their primary responsibilities – the tasks they were hired to execute. AI systems can help plug this loophole and reallocate responsibilities.

  • Virtual assistance:

If you are in the airline industry, then there is a need to interact with thousands of customers real-time to send them necessary updates like estimated time of arrival etc. In such cases, AI-powered systems do a fantastic job of keeping the communication going with the customer.

And the scope of AI will only increase as it keeps evolving, upgrading and expanding into more sectors. The biggest takeaway is that experts are already making the systems more efficient and the goal is not to match human intelligence, but to surpass it.

So, if you are yet to embrace this fascinating technology, the time is now!