The business world is no longer a stranger to the disruptive potential of artificial intelligence, or AI. Once something confined to the realm of tech business and experts, AI has stepped into the limelight and is now recognised for its ability to address complex and challenging business problems.
In testament to this, Gartner’s 2019 CIO Survey of more than 3,000 executives across 89 countries found that AI implementation has grown by a whopping 270% over the past four years, and 37% in the last year alone. In saying this, however, there are still a significant number of businesses – particularly small to medium-sized organisations – who have not yet considered or integrated AI into their organisation.
In my opinion, the greatest barrier to AI adoption is a lack of knowledge and awareness on the part of the business leaders who are ultimately responsible for creatively applying AI within their daily operations. People not well-versed in tech can think that AI is either not relevant or simply not cost-effective. In reality, executives hoping to drive their business ahead of its competition must look to the advantages on offer from this fascinating and advanced form of technology.
With over 20 years of experience in the field of AI, I explore some of the common and simple applications of this powerful technology that all business leaders should familiarise themselves with.
Don’t overlook AI’s data processing abilities
Whatever industry or business we look at, there is one common strand that makes AI applicable to them – data.
Researching, analysing and assessing volumes of data from different sources is a task that professionals face across almost all industries today. Fortunately, this is a task that AI excels at. Through its ability to gather and scan swathes of complicated data, AI can automate repetitive, time-consuming and labour-intensive tasks.
For some businesses, this might mean using AI toolsets to digitise their libraries and data stores to make locating information a much easier process, while for others it might even mean delegating the task of document-drafting to AI. For example, professionals can now specify what points they want to be included in a document, and the AI algorithms can automatically generate paragraphs or entire documents by adhering to a set template.
Ultimately, this unparalleled ability to process data at lightening speeds means that professionals that were previously burdened by time-consuming and labour-intensive tasks can now divert their attention to more value-adding and creative activities such as project management.
While it might come as a surprise to some, AI tools in fact possess a demonstrated ability to predict the outcomes of different scenarios before they even take place. This works because of AI’s ability to recognise patterns within huge amounts of historical data. Importantly, this means there is huge time and cost-saving potential within industries ranging from finance through to the legal sector.
Let’s home in on the legal sector to see how this might work in practice. By sifting through cases, identifying common factors and using these to form a variety of causal inferences, AI algorithms can produce a risk analysis for potential future cases. In essence, it offers legal workers an understanding of how likely a case is to be successful, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of any accompanying arguments.
Not only could this help firms decide which cases to take on; it could also actively change the way a case unfolds by giving the legal team a degree of foresight about how similar cases usually play out.
Driving business growth
Of course, no discussion about the role of AI in business can take place without exploring how it can drive growth and increase sales. Indeed, all businesses in the private sector understand the importance of sales and marketing (SaM) in promoting their products or services to potential customers: it is effectively the lifeblood of any company.
AI-powered toolsets help SaM teams maintain a comprehensive view of market trends so that they can understand their current and potential customers’ various needs, and adapt accordingly. Again, this is done by assessing huge swathes of customer data at granular levels, uncovering hidden patterns in their behaviour, and thereafter building a comprehensive digital profile of the consumer. This allows businesses to cater for them much more effectively through hyper-personalised content which could ultimately convert to sales further down the line.
In a similar vein, AI also excels at lead generation. Rather than having to trawl through online profiles and go through the motions of reaching out to prospective clients – that may or may not ultimately result in a successful sale – sales reps can enlist the help of innovative toolsets. The role of machine learning (ML) is key to this function, giving AI tools the ability to continuously learn and improve in order to produce only the most hyper-relevant leads. Put simply, the more professionals interact with such tools in accepting or declining the leads it provides, the better it will be able to learn what the business’ ideal client looks like and refine its search.
Perhaps the most important point to end with is this: despite concerns shared by many in the workplace who are worried that they might be replaced by machines, this reality is far from this. Rather, AI can and should be leveraged to augment the work of professionals, helping them not only work faster – but smarter, too.
Developed in partnership with LOMi and Fountech, a leading AI development company, Prospex applies sophisticated AI technology to provide qualified, hyper-personalized and cost-effective leads for small businesses through to large corporates.