Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking centre stage in just about every industry.
Attend a conference or take part in a webinar about innovations in your sector (whether that’s tech, retail, manufacturing…) and it’s highly likely that a large portion of it will concern AI. New products are springing up everywhere and it seems that if you’re not ahead of the curve then you’re lagging behind.
But, we’re not talking the AI of science fiction, don’t expect to see a robot crop up and massage your shoulders when you’re feeling especially tense. No, we’re not talking sentient beings, we’re talking an undercurrent of super-smart tech that is unlocking the power of your existing IT infrastructure. Machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning and computer vision have made it easier than ever to advance your tech. Not sure how? Okay, we’ll start at the beginning.
- What is AI?
- Types of AI
- How to implement AI in your business
- How can AI improve your business?
- Ways that AI is improving business right now
What is AI?
Put simply, AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experience. AI can adapt and improve processes and even carry out certain tasks that were previously performed by humans. It works by combining swathes of data with intelligent algorithms to allow the software to spot patterns and react accordingly. It’s already widely in use, even in your own home, think Alexa, Google Home and Rumba to name a few.
Types of AI
- Machine Learning – uses algorithms and statistical data to allow a computer system to perform tasks without explicit programming or instructions. In essence, it continuously collects data and uses this to “learn” practices as it goes along.
- Deep Learning – is a form of machine learning. It imitates the function of the human brain to analyse and process large amounts of complex data in order to “make decisions”.
- Natural Language Processing – is the ability of computers to analyse, understand and generate human language including speech.
How to implement AI in your business
How you use AI applications will all depend on your organisational needs and the business insights that you gain from the data you collect. The benefits are just as varied and include driving customer engagement, fraud detection and data security (more on this later) but how do you implement an AI system into your business? There are a number of steps you can take.
Familiarise yourself with AI
Before you go any further, get used to AI and become familiar with what it could do for you. Go online (always a great place to start) and take advantage of the wealth of information and resources available to help you get to grips with AI. There are a whole host of remote workshops and online seminars that you give an in-depth insight into the various strains of AI that could be useful for your business.
Identify the issues that AI could solve…
When you have a bit of background info and know what AI can do for you, the next step is to think about what it should do. Consider how AI can build upon and improve your existing products and services. Begin with your tech programmes and look at how NLP, Machine Learning etc. could boost those services.
…But be realistic
There’s probably a major difference between what you’d like to achieve and what you have the business capabilities to achieve. Work out what you can do from a tech and business perspective. A detailed Business Impact Assessment will allow you to identify your needs and see if AI could help.
Start simple and make use of AI with a small sample of your data. Avoid jumping in with both feet until you’ve proven the potential value. Start small, collect feedback and then expand in a way that works for you. Be selective in how you’ll use your AI. Pick a problem you want to solve, give AI a specific task and avoid overloading the system with extraneous data.
Include staff from the get-go
The dated idea that AI is coming for our jobs still holds strong with a number of workers. If people will be using new AI systems, then include them from day one and introduce the system as a solution to existing problems. Let them see how tech can augment their role and ensure that they’re using it for smaller tasks initially.
How can AI improve your business?
There are numerous potential benefits from a micro to a macro level. We can see incremental changes that will make individual lives easier and top-down improvements that can boost a business’s performance. Here are some of the major changes you can hope to see when you implement a successful AI strategy.
Improve sales and marketing
You no doubt have a CRM system in place to gather customer data. This will usually work across all your channels from email to phone to social and, thanks to AI, it’s easier than ever to analyse this data to benefit your business. Commonly-used CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Hubspot are allowing business owners to analyse customer feedback and automatically adjust marketing and lead generation activates according to the data.
With AI, you have the option of maximising lead generation, acquiring sales insights and optimising the customer experience.
Modernise and simplify HR processes
AI tools can dramatically streamline HR tasks such as hiring and onboarding. It can be used to automatically sift through hundreds of applications to find the candidates that match the job specifications. This could drastically improve the hiring process and see to it that the most qualified candidates are seen for an interview (rather than just the ones who are lucky enough to get their application in early). It will also save valuable time for HR managers.
And then, once a new employee is onboard, AI software can serve as an invaluable knowledge bank for new employees who would otherwise be firing questions at the HR department.
Automate customer communications
Chatbots are becoming increasingly common on websites to initiate communication and answer questions. You’ve probably come across one before (whether you realised it or not) when interacting with a brand. Those pop-ups in the bottom corner of the screen are invariably bots but have the same information as a customer service employee and can usually access it more readily.
Think of a bot as an employee that works for you day and night. If you don’t have a dedicated customer service team right now, this could be a huge boost for you and your customers.
Size up the competition
AI has the capabilities to analyse your competitor’s digital presence. Ever wondered how often they tweet or how successful their customer interactions are? There are tools out there that gather all of the online data on your competitors and then deliver it to you in an easy-to-read format. They enable you to gather large volumes of data and make sense of it in order to compare and contrast your own digital strategy and allow you to respond with more speed and more efficiency to any relevant changes in your industry.
Ways that AI is improving business right now
Of course, the previously-mentioned options have the potential to be hugely beneficial at a strategic level, but AI can also help at a more specific and immediate level. Check out just a handful of the common ways AI is helping businesses right now:
- Automatic transcribing: do away with endless dreary transactions, many software platforms will now do this for you.
- Preventing cyberattacks: malware attacks and security threats can be spotted in advance by AI platforms, who will alert the team long before they might otherwise be discovered.
- Fraud detection: comparing millions of transactions and distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent activity is simpler than ever.
- User optimisation: Comparing millions of data points to provide personalised content could do wonders for businesses that rely on good customer experience.
For business leaders, the key focus has to be assessing and implementing AI into your business. AI has the potential to save you time and money and improve almost every single aspect of business life. The downfall? If you fail to keep up with the everchanging software, your business could suffer.
CDL is one of the UK’s leading IT disposal companies, working alongside big-name businesses in a range of industries. To find out how we could help your business, or for more of the latest tech news and advice, visit our homepage or call our team today on 0333 060 2846.