Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are nothing new and are part of our everyday lives. Now, they can also be integrated into your company’s processes to save time and money and allow you and your workers to take on more interesting and innovative work.
An introduction to AI and machine learning
According to Microsoft, AI is “the capability of a computer system to mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving.” For tasks that require a lot of tedious repetition, you can simply program software that can do it for you.
The company defines machine learning as “an application of AI. It’s the process of using mathematical models of data to help a computer learn without direct instruction.” This is how artificial intelligence becomes smarter autonomously, although there are limitations to this, including requiring people to feed it information.
With smartphones, AI, and other technology now being part of our daily lives, more information about your customer-base is available than ever before and you will have access to masses of data that needs processing. Given that computers are the reason we generate so much data, it makes sense to use a computer to sift through it all and process it in a way that humans can digest and make better use of.
How is AI being used in business?
Regardless of the sector you’re in, anything that is repetitive and predictable can be automated. Here are a few practical applications of AI and machine learning in business:
You might have over a thousand subscribers to your service and need to send an email only to certain target audiences within your customer-base. Or, if you anticipate receiving a lot of the same messages, you can automate your responses or use chatbots to reply automatically – but someone will need to set it up, guide it and update it as needed.
Accountancy and finance - Rigorous and time-consuming processes such as invoicing can also be automated to produce more accurate and speedier results than a human could produce. It would be impossible for a person to analyse the masses of data produced by the ever-enhancing technology we use every day, but AI could do it in seconds.
And, within data analysis, through machine learning, AI can spot patterns and make predictions that people might either be unable to spot or find challenging.
Hospitality and leisure - In this industry, there is no substitute for human interaction. However, machine learning and artificial intelligence can enhance the visitor experience and help your employees work more efficiently and effectively.
Adding voice-activated services and robotic porters, for example, can make your guests feel more at home and relaxed. Many online services are made easier for the user through machine learning, including offering services according to their preferences. In certain places, the venue itself can give you real-time weather and traffic information.
Limitations and benefits of AI in business
Technological advancements have always caused widespread concerns around humans being replaced by machines – for instance, when the first industrial revolution began, and machines were introduced into factories. Now, workers use these machines to facilitate mass production and more innovative design that wouldn’t have been possible a hundred years ago. This parallels the concerns people have today, but AI is highly unlikely to replace people – at least not in the foreseeable future.
Any work that requires ethical decision-making, emotion, creativity, intuition and cultural knowledge and other soft skills will still require employees. AI can only mimic these with the data they are fed by people. Without tech professionals programming, guiding, updating, and feeding through data, the technology would be unreliable. And, without employees and customers in a particular industry ‘teaching’ the software, AI would be unable to learn anything useful.
Businesses that don’t have some form of AI technology will fall behind their competitors. It can help you scale your company through greater efficiency of your services and processes, making time for your workforce to come up with new ideas. That’s why, rather than replacing humans, AI is only capable of business support functions and making employees’ and business leaders’ work easier.
For more advice on how to implement AI in your business to improve productivity, contact your nearest Reed office.