The digital revolution has produced a radical shift in the way we go about our daily lives—from how to communicate with one another to how we access information and everything in between. But it’s also having a significant impact on the workplace. It’s shifting how organizations operate, what roles they fill, and how they deliver their products.
The mainstream adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace is inevitable. AI and machine learning can carry out specific functions better than humans, with greater accuracy and in a fraction of the time that it takes us. And while some people fear AI will replace humans across all job functions, employing AI capabilities into your business doesn’t need to spell doom for your employees.
There are much greater opportunities for a human-AI relationship that will undoubtedly contribute to a more productive, efficient, and valuable company.
“AI presents the opportunity for businesses to automate routine tasks so that humans can better use their time to provide higher value contributions.” — Ellie Mirman, CMO of Crayon
AI is already proving its capabilities for increasing productivity through automation, lowering operational costs and analyzing data. With a predicted market value of $70 billion by 2020, it’s time to start looking into applications for your business if you haven’t already.
Four Areas of Your Business that AI Could Improve:
1. Business Management and Strategy
Once upon a time, it might have been a reasonable undertaking to process most of your businesses data and turn those analyses into strategies. But in today’s age of seemingly infinite information, we’re collecting troves of data and doing so at a rate we can barely match with analysis. As a result, an estimated 60-73% of this data is sitting unused, even though that data could contain information integral to the optimization of a business’ operations and the products it delivers to its customers.
Utilizing machine learning in the collection and processing of data will help you better extract value from these large datasets, which in turn will allow you to identify new opportunities to “grow revenues, product lines and offer differentiated customer experiences,” says Barry Matthews, head of UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands at ISG.
2. IT & Security
Hand in hand with data collection is data protection. There’s an increasing amount of sensitive and personal data collected and stored on the web and online servers. This access to data means companies and people are becoming more vulnerable to threats such as identity theft, fraud, phishing, and other attack vectors. These threats are becoming smarter and increasingly more difficult to prevent, detect and resolve when security is breached.
“Those who work in security operation centers have a host of functions to perform when there’s a security breach. They must determine intent, identify the intruder, gauge the impact and neutralize the attack before real impact occurs.” — Peter George, CEO of cybersecurity firm Empow
Humans alone no longer have the capabilities necessary to prevent these attacks themselves and must engage with AI and ML to help combat these threats. Credit card companies can benefit largely from using ML in their systems. This would help not only to identify anomalies in user behavior (i.e. fraud identification) but also to identify false positives that may result in blocking a legitimate user’s account, as suggested by University of Toronto professor, Joshua Gans.
3. Marketing & Customer Experience
While your customers might be grouped into a general market segment, it’s important to understand these consumers are individuals with differing reasons behind why they buy, and how they use, a product or service. AI can allow marketers to create personalized consumer experiences targeted at each individual. By processing data captured through every consumer interaction, AI can help to create unique consumer profiles. Marketers can use this data to deliver relevant advertising to each customer at the right times.
Chatbots are also increasingly being deployed to deliver online customer support 24 hours a day, eliminating painful long customer service queues. Despite some poor chatbot experiences in the past, bot technology is becoming increasingly smarter. Some have even passed the Turing test.
Paperwork, scheduling, reporting, filing, accounting, communication, and email management are all repetitive administrative tasks that take up a substantial amount of a company’s time and resources. In a study by Accenture of over 1,700 front-line, mid, and senior-level managers, administrative tasks took up a whopping 54% of their time. This was followed by 30% spent on problem-solving and collaborating, 10% on strategy and innovation, and 7% on people and community.
Managers provide no additional value to repetitive administrative tasks that, while necessary, could be automated. By handing over at least half of the administrative workload to an AI function, managers would have significantly more time to contribute human-added value to engaging and developing employees, improving operations, or developing strategies that can create more value for their customers.
There are a number of ways in which AI can help to increase productivity within the workplace. Business leaders will do well to understand how AI and machine learning can be applied to automate the repetitive, time-consuming and often dull tasks, leaving your employees to focus on more meaningful work. However, in order to apply AI effectively across your organizations, you first need to understand how and why you are using it, what it is you want to get out of AI, and you must understand its limitations.
An AI’s output is only as good as its input. Therefore, AI is subject to bias if the input data is biased. Since many of our social processes are biased, so too is the resulting data. Amazon recently discovered that their recruiting tool has biases against women, so they had to scrap the program.
Used correctly, AI can help to streamline processes and enable businesses and humans to be more effective and efficient, while bringing value to areas of business that require human analysis, strategy, and creativity. Use it wisely.