What does artificial intelligence (AI) mean to you? More than likely it’s that one day robots will take your job; and that of your colleagues, and eventually everyone. But that’s in the future, isn’t it? Well no, because the future is already here, and you’re more than likely already using AI through such things as smart assistant apps or devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.
At this point it’s also worth pointing out that AI is merely a broad term for any type of computer software that engages in humanlike activities such as learning, planning and problem-solving. Not robots.
In the business world AI is already happening across almost all industries, from finances to engineering, education and marketing; but the days of fully self-sufficient, human-level artificial intelligence is but a distant dream; it’s the stuff of science fiction.
Having said that, Microsoft president Brad Smith does reckon that AI will transform society over the next three decades, just as the internal combustion engine did during the first half of the 20th century; while the tech giant’s UK COO Clare Barclay has stated that “based on the progress we’re seeing, we believe that every company will be an AI company in five years”.
What AI is helping to do is to propel machine learning (that’s the science of algorithms) as well as cloud computing and Big Data. You won’t lose your career to robots any time soon, what will happen is that your job will adapt and change.
As an example, if you work in sales and marketing you’ll spend less time figuring out the ideal price for your product, because an algorithm will be able to make sense of Big Data to determine the optimal price to maximize profits; so instead you might spend more time managing customers or designing attractive marketing materials or websites.
The AI behind this Big Data crunching has the ability to “learn” over time; it’ll get better at it the more that it does it – practice makes perfect etc – and this machine learning is useful for putting vast troves of data captured by connected devices and the internet of things, into a digestible context for humans.
Marketers will be able to compare sophisticated inbound communications side-by-side against traditional metrics to help answer difficult strategy questions; with the upshot being that AI will let them know whether or not a prospect is ready to be targeted.
Staying with marketing, AI will be able to tap into the abundance of consumer data hidden in keyword searches, social profiles and other online data, for smarter and more effective digital adverts.
Another area of marketing where AI is very current is that of natural language processing (NLP) which is a method that teaches computers to use language like people, and is built into a variety of business technologies such as chatbots, CRM platforms and social media monitoring tools.
NLP-powered tech is able to drive better business decisions through market intelligence and media buying, as well as improving customer service and analysing consumers’ intent and sentiment. And then there’s the automated writing correction app Grammarly which only last month secured $90 million in funding to help take the business even further. NLP-powered tech at its best!
AI is rapidly evolving, and in the coming years we are likely to see many advances in this area. Getting to grips with AI at this early stage can set your company up for a better future, providing you identify the business cases where AI can bring maximum value.