Scanning any of the business or tech headlines today, it won’t take long to find a headline about artificial intelligence (“AI”) and how it is going to change the world as we know it. Even though it is almost impossible to predict the future—especially in technology—it seems self-evident that AI will significantly transform the way that we do business.
We don’t have to wait for the next several decades to see this transformation, however. Even in 2019, artificial intelligence has already played a role in transforming the business landscape—regardless of the industry. Whether you work for or own a business, it is worth taking the time to examine how AI is transforming business today.
The bottom line? It is already changing our world. If you aren’t paying attention, you can bet that your competitors are.
While AI can trace its roots back to the mid-1950s, the technology has experienced explosive growth in the past number of years. There are several reasons for this, but some of the more prominent reasons center on increasing computer power and the rise of Big Data. All of these forces simultaneously converging have unlocked massive opportunities for both large and small organizations.
Because AI is an industry-agnostic tool, companies in virtually every industry have already started investing in this game-changing technology. These companies recognize that artificial intelligence—combined with Big Data—can unleash a significant number of hidden insights that can help them better accomplish their business goals. While many of the companies already leveraging AI are larger companies, small and medium-sized enterprises are also taking advantage of the technology revolution.
One of the most important implications of AI is that it can help companies better understand customer behavior. Coca-Cola has begun outfitting vending machines with AI algorithms to promote drinks and flavors in certain markets. These vending machines even display certain “moods” that change depending on their location. For instance, Coke vending machines in malls are more playful and colorful while they are more functional in locations like hospitals. The critical point, however, is that every time that a purchaser pushes a button on a Coke vending machine, the company is gathering even more data. From there, Coke can use it to further understand its customers’ buying habits and inform new product decisions. In other words, Coke data scientists can discover what customers really want and can give it to them.
Beyond using it to power product innovation, AI and social media can be an extremely powerful combination. As just one example, AI can be used to monitor social media sentiment. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses to connect with their customers. However, as a business gets larger, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor these interactions and references to the business. AI can make this process much easier.
Again, Coke—like many other companies—uses artificial intelligence in connection with its social media presence. Leveraging computer vision, natural language processing tools, and deep learning analysis of engagement metrics, the company was able to study social media posts referencing Coke and accordingly alter its marketing strategy. While Coke could hire an army of analysts to find and read each of its references on social media, AI can make this job much easier, faster, and cheaper.
Social media and AI can also be used to match up social media users with products that make their lives easier. For instance, The Home Depot has partnered with social media platforms like Pinterest to use artificial intelligence to tailor relevant content in visual searches. If a Home Depot customer needs a faucet, they don’t want to review all 1,000 faucets in Home Depot’s inventory. Instead, AI can help that customer find a relevant faucet at an attractive price point. While the rise of this new technology has forced companies like The Home Depot to undergo some internal restructuring, Home Depot’s data science and AI professionals can leverage social media, Big Data, and AI to generate more digital sales.
Moving on from social media, businesses have used AI to deliver better customer service. Some of the most obvious applications are in the form of chatbots, which are pieces of software that conducts conversations with customers. The conversations are human-like and can even give personalized recommendations to customers through website recommendation engines.
Chatbot technology is extremely effective and accessible. As just one example, some hospitals, have developed standalone mobile apps that can help cancer patients learn about their treatment options. Using AI engineering, these apps deliver a computer-animated conversational simulation tool with patients. Patients speak with animated chatbots and they help patients better understand things like their diagnosis, the advantages of chemotherapy, and what to expect from treatment. While chatbots continue to approve, they ultimately allow organizations to offer better, more personalized customer service at a larger scale.
Finally, businesses are leveraging the computer vision opportunities of AI in unique and interesting ways. Essentially, computer vision is a subset of AI that allows computers to gain a high-level understanding from digital images or videos. As discussed above, companies like The Home Depot have used computer vision to better recommend home improvement products to customers. Scientific Games International, — a leader in computer vision and AI and a large employer in Forsyth County — is even applying computer vision to the floors of casino operators. Scientific Games uses computer vision to help increase action on casino table games and create additional growth opportunities for casino operators.
Computer vision is a true game-changer that will not only change the way that we do business, but the way that we travel.
Regardless of the size or sector of your organization, AI is already a force to be reckoned with. Even more fascinating is that we are still in the early innings of AI technology. AI is only going to get more advanced and powerful from here, so it is best to stay attuned to its progress.
While we can’t be sure what is going to happen in the next few decades, it is hard to see a future without AI technology. Businesses must be cognizant of these changes. They must also recognize the power of AI today. Ultimately, if you don’t have AI specialists within your organization, consider speaking with a third-party vendor to see if AI can provide value today. There’s not much to lose. In fact, the potential gains can be huge.
Interested in the Forsyth County Technology Sector? Read about our Forsyth Tech Executives group and read our Economic Development Tech guide here.