“Artificial intelligence is . . . the most profound technology humanity will ever work on . . . If you think about fire or electricity or the internet, it is like that but I think even more profound . . . It can make humans more productive than we have ever imagined.”
These are the words of someone who knows what they’re talking about – Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc and its subsidiary, Google. So, if AI is going to transform humanity, it can revolutionise your business right now in powerful ways that will drive growth.
What exactly is AI?
Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term used to describe the means by which intelligent machines are able to simulate the way humans think, behave and solve problems. Machine learning is a subset or application of AI, along with neural networks, computer vision and natural language processing.
AI is already a big part of daily life in the developed world. It manifests as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the helpful GPS navigation assistant. Banks use chatbots to answer customer FAQs and eCommerce companies suggest products you might like to buy. Your phone unlocks when it recognises your face. Self-driving cars have already arrived. More and more businesses – of all sizes – are using AI to stay ahead of the competition, even your accounting software uses AI to speed up the processing of transactions.
Recent acceleration in business AI
In September 2021, the Harvard Business Review reported on the skyrocketing adoption of artificial intelligence by business in the preceding 18 months. Here are some of the findings they unearthed from a variety of surveys:
- The COVID crisis accelerated the adoption of AI for 52%-55% of businesses (depending on which survey was used) as they scrambled to find new or better ways to connect with customers and cope with skills shortages during the lockdown.
- 86% of companies say that AI is becoming a mainstream technology.
- 72% of business leaders feel positive about the future role of AI.
- The majority of executives anticipate that AI will deliver more efficient business processes, create new business models and enable the cessation of new products and services.
- Artificial intelligence is fuelling startups, enabling them to use data-driven technologies to enter new markets with new products, but is also helping established companies compete with startups.
Five AI-driven business growth opportunities
You don’t need to be a global behemoth to take advantage of AI. Here are some ways that organisations of all sizes can benefit.
1. Enhanced customer service
Customer service is at the heart of most businesses, and the ones that deliver the best service have a competitive advantage. AI conversational chatbots – text-only, voice only or fully visual – can interact with customers to direct enquiries and provide answers to FAQs much faster (and at a lower cost) than human service providers. Data analysis of customer behaviour, browsing and preferences can be used to suggest appealing products and special deals, or design targeting marketing campaigns.
2. Improved operational efficiency
There’s almost no limit to the ways in which artificial intelligence can improve your operational procedures. AI was used to handle the enormous amounts of data and predict outcomes in the development of COVID vaccines. Manufacturing robots increase productivity, lower costs, improve quality and shorten production times. Warehouse robots can shelve, pick and dispatch. AI-powered search engines can process large volumes of data and produce actionable reports in a fraction of the time that humans can, and with greater accuracy, eliminating errors and bottlenecks.
3. Upgraded employee performance
Despite all the gloomy predictions, intelligent machines are not about to make all human beings redundant. On the contrary, artificial intelligence frees employees from mundane and repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on personal skill improvement, creativity, social abilities and empathy. It does mean that team members will increasingly need to acquire AI literacy, but collaboration between humans and AI will allow employees to become more engaged and have an improved overall experience, leading to increased productivity.
4. Reduced workforce expenses
It follows that a more productive human workforce will be less costly than an unproductive one. At the same time, intelligent machines will inevitably replace some labour-intensive roles, at a lower cost than employing humans. Machines require maintenance and upgrading, but they don’t need holiday and sick leave, a 38-hour week and meal breaks, staff welfare expenses and superannuation.
5. Better strategic decision-making
Good decisions are the lifeblood of a successful business, and good decisions are informed by accurate data. The problem is, there is a huge amount of data now available, and always the potential for more insights that you may be missing. AI machine learning extends the processing capabilities of predictive data analytics by learning from patterns in past data, making assumptions, testing them and delivering recommendations for future actions, all at scale and speed.
Discover AI’s competitive edge
Would you like to know more about how AI can be implemented or accelerated in your business, to ensure that you maintain a competitive edge over your peers? Call us to find out how Bentleys’ business advisors can help you to get where you want to be.
Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.