AI Means Business — But What Does It Mean for Yours?

May 24, 2018 - 7 minutes read

It’s not exactly a secret that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change the world. In fact, current developments in AI are already doing that every day. But just what exactly does the future of AI hold in store for business?

Mazdak Rezvani, the CEO of Chatkit, an AI conversation marketing platform, dives into this complex topic in a new VentureBeat piece. And while one can only guess as to what will actually happen, Rezvani makes one thing clear — regardless of your field, staying in business will require staying up-to-date with AI innovations.

Plenty of Progress Still to Be Made

Rezvani is no stranger to cutting-edge AI. Chatkit lets companies and brands automate customer conversations with AI. Indeed, it’s one of many products that tap into recent advances in technology and algorithms to make AI more usable for both enterprises and small businesses.

But the Toronto-based developer will be the first to admit that AI has a long way to go before it meets the great expectations set up from science fiction stories. AI is still extremely restricted in its applications that it’s essentially a “prediction technology” as Rezvani puts it.

In fact, it’s so limited that if you were to build AI to handle one specific task, that same AI often can’t be easily adapted to handle slightly different tasks. Rezvani chalks this up to a lack of “general intelligence” that humans naturally possess, like the ability to refine our learning process, deductive reasoning, and natural logic.

Automation’s Inevitable Impact on Jobs

That doesn’t mean that AI won’t fuel extreme disruption to our society and global economy, however. It will just be more gradual than the media paints it to be. A prime example of this is the slow but inevitable introduction of automation and robotics into supply chains. Robots haven’t just marched onto factory floors overnight and started taking over every single task available. Giving automation more responsibility has been a piecemeal process.

But make no doubt about it, the hype around AI does stem from some reality; it wasn’t so long ago that most people scoffed at the idea of computers taking over many of the tasks that they have today. AI is causing an irreversible impact on many markets while also creating new ones.

With this in mind, Rezvani encourages business owners to approach AI in a piecemeal process just like it’s occurring — by breaking down aspects of labor into the bite-sized tasks that compose them. He elaborates: “…it becomes clear that the process of automation happens in parallel to augmentation.”

Essentially, machines and automation are usually incorporated to assist humans in certain tasks. From there, the AI’s abilities improve and evolve to where it can usually perform most aspects of a task with some minimal human supervision.

Move Forward or Get Left Behind

Just as employees in various job markets are scrambling to ensure they have job security by adapting and gaining new skills, so should employers. Machine intelligence is a commodity that is getting cheaper with every advancement. Rezvani expects two main results from this.

First, prediction technologies will become more versatile and continue to expand to other tasks that they couldn’t accomplish before. Second, products or methods that streamline or augment predictions will rise in value while the labor originally used to accomplish this will fall in value.

So, how do you choose where to implement automation? Where will it be most cost-effective and provide optimal value? Rezvani answers this succinctly: “In situations where the only information required to make the decision is what is immediately available (i.e., the signal itself), machine intelligence can potentially take over.”

Enterprising Opportunities

Rezvani follows this up with a few common scenarios worth considering for your own operations. Does your sales department analyze which leads are qualified to go after based on a set of discrete factors? How about a customer service representative attending to a common problem? Both would be ample opportunities for automation to augment your results.

The list of opportunities to integrate AI into business operations is practically infinite. Whether you’re thinking of streamlining customer service or getting a leg up on how your sales team does lead scoring, it’s important to approach each possibility with an open mind. And of course, it’s worth mentioning that AI’s current capabilities aren’t only limited to enhancing your marketing strategies.

If you’re in MedTech, you’re probably well aware of the impact that AI is having on identifying visual cues in x-rays. If you work in an infrastructure market, like servers, AI offers the ability to optimize system administration by decreasing downtime. And AI has already proven itself to be invaluable for product-based businesses; the ability to test out different designs and theories has already saved businesses billions of dollars.

Humans Remain an Indispensable Resource

Machine intelligence offers a myriad number of ways to improve your enterprise. So it’s important that you start examining how it can help yours. The sooner you start, the sooner you can stay ahead of the curve. Rezvani also emphasizes that, while embracing AI is imperative to stay successful, human employees will forever be indispensable to any organization.

Whether it comes to closing a deal with a potential customer or connecting the dots to understand your patient’s plight with clarity, there are still many activities that will remain outside of AI’s reach. For complete optimization, focus not only on how AI can help your organization, but how it can help your employees. By viewing AI’s impact holistically, you can make your business work smarter instead of harder.

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