WASHINGTON, March 23, 2017 — A recent Wakefield Research and Demandbase survey showed that 80 percent of polled executives predicted and believed that artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionize marketing as early as 2020. Even today, we’ve already seen certain industries swiftly introduce new technologies and systems like AI into their business processes, the healthcare sector being the forerunner of leading adopters.
We have also seen an increase in the adoption of augmented, assisted and autonomous intelligence among automotive companies, financial services and so many more. Businesses that are adopting AI systems hope that artificial intelligence will help improve effectiveness and efficiency and enhance their innovative capabilities.
One of the most common ways that AI is currently being used is in the area of virtual assistance. Think about when you call the bank and get “the machine” that provides you with specific answers to commonly asked questions. That’s virtual assistance. When the computerized voice asks for your account number or a speech access code, or requests that you press a button to reach a certain department, you’re using virtual assistance. In terms of home devices, think Siri, or Ask Google. These are virtual assistants as well.
We are also seeing increased businesses use of “chatbots” to provide customer service during high-demand periods to manage large numbers of queries from confused or disgruntled customers. Examples include providing information to customer queries when a flight is delayed, or when a home cable or internet service goes offline unexpectedly. Chatbots can answer simple questions, providing information on when the next flight is available, or when the cable or network outage is likely to be restored, rather than making everyone with questions wait in line or be put on perpetual hold.
AI has also become a significant actor in the automotive industry of late, figuring prominently in the expanding R&D devoted to creating viable autonomous and semi-autonomous cars. Even in some current models, driver tasks as elementary as parallel parking, obstacle avoidance and even navigation make use of cameras, sensors and AI to analyze, predict and even execute maneuvers geared toward better driver efficiency and safety.
Big data is another area where AI technologies are proving useful, given that AI can help winnow oceans of data, distilling the correct bits into useful insights. Many of today’s systems are now capable of storing and analyzing billions of data points within minutes. They can also learn from the data and provide better analysis over time.
At Publicis.Sapient, machine learning tech is being employed to build a system to predict consumer requirements for mortgage loans based on their specific life events as well as standard, market-based factors.
AI-enabled commercial surveillance systems can analyze countless hours of video surveillance footage, using facial recognition algorithms to identify potential criminals or volume analysis algorithms to understand or project traffic patterns.
Tools have been developed enabling businesses and clients to harness the capabilities of AI. Strategy&—PwC’s Global Strategy Consulting Team—uses a tool called DeNovo that allows its clients and the company’s internal analysts to evaluate the disruptive potential of certain financial technologies and then assess how to harness those technologies for more efficient use and greater productivity.
On a more basic level, businesses have begun to rely on AI to process administrative tasks, allowing managers to free up valuable time that can be put to more productive use.
AI can also be employed to quickly automate scheduling tasks or report writing. Administrative coordination and control alone have been shown to take up as much as 54 percent of a manager’s time during an average work day. The productivity advantages of handing such tasks off to AI systems can be considerable. For example, the Associated Press was able to expand its quarterly earnings coverage from an average of about 300 stories per reporting period to 4,400 with the help of AI-powered software robots. AP’s use of this new technology enabled their team of journalists to conduct more investigative and interpretive reporting.
Beyond these few examples discussed here, practical AI applications will continue to be created and deployed in an ever-increasing number of companies, products and situations. Depending upon organizational needs and insights gleaned from collected data, individuals as well as companies of all sizes will be able to deploy AI for almost anything, ranging from driving engagement in customer relationship management to mining social data to optimizing efficiency and logistics in the tracking and management of assets.
It’s a brave new world out there today, and AI promises to make even mundane tasks easier, simpler, safer and more transparent.