Making AI work for youBlog
By Wayne Speechly: Principal Director Digital Advisory, Dimension Data and Richard Sutherland: Global Technical Account Manager, Intel
Artificial intelligence may be in its infancy, but it offers real benefits today
The rapid acceleration of the value businesses are achieving from Artificial intelligence (AI) is already providing clear-cut benefits.
Admittedly, there has been a lot of talk about AI and its possibilities, but very little tangible value as the concept and various applications continue to mature. With the relevant use of AI, companies now have a better understanding of their customers and employees, and are able to optimise existing processes, and improve the work environment. This is, however, just the beginning.
AI requires taking into account many complex considerations. At its core, the value from AI comes from its ability to take data from a number of sources, interact with humans via direct technology interfaces to understand problems and solutions, and deliver meaningful insights which aid in customer experience, or better organisational management. This leveraging of AI delivers better experiences for both customers and employees.
Today, AI can take on many simple tasks that are mundane and structured. These tasks are ones that have traditionally been performed by people, and by processing them in real time, it’s possible to free up valuable resources, increase the accuracy of answers and save time. This is often the case in the area of self-service, where it’s possible to eliminate the need for customers to interact with other humans to access basic information, such as checking the status of a delivery. New digital channels with automated processes are being enhanced by AI, have the potential to provide many benefits, including what information is accessible, solving complex computational problems, and most importantly, delivering experiences that suit customers and employees through a multitude of channels, including social platforms, websites, applications, and even contract centres.
In the business world, AI is able to deliver the insights needed to make a business decision, like, what impact marketing has on sales. These insights are derived from the system’s ability to collate and process diverse sets of information, that would otherwise be difficult for people to complete. For example, AI can monitor video footage of a specific section of a retail store, analyse how many people view a specific in-store display and how long they linger in that area, correlate this data with the sales of that item and subsequently identify what impact the display has on sales. In addition, AI can analyse social media feeds, and link the marketing activation to consumer sentiment around the brand. This helps companies generate higher quality insights that enable quicker and more relevant decisions to be made. While AI not only changes how organisations are able to make decisions, there is also the opportunity to be able to react to customer or employee experience based on sentiment analysis incorporated with data insights.
Moving forward, it will be possible to use AI to process information that has traditionally required human consideration. Through deep learning algorithms, systems are able to find and incorporate additional sources of information, expanding the ability of AI well beyond what the human brain is capable of.
Voice-enabled chat bots is one area where AI is making significant inroads, and one of the most visible areas as well. Anyone who has used a voice assistant on their smartphone or smart speaker to tell them a sports score, what the weather is going to do, or even to turn lights on or off is tapping into a cloud-based AI system. These systems take the millions of interactions they have on a daily basis and use it to learn to understand human speech, phonetic patterns, and how to increasingly process simple and complex problems better.
Being able to process natural language queries is vital in helping companies build a customer experience that allows them to interact with their customers in a natural manner. Customer loyalty is maintained and grown by ensuring that customers are able to access what they want, when they want it, and in the manner they prefer – within reason. AI has the ability to deliver against this customer mandate, while also letting employees have a richer experience in delivering service too.
Proceed with caution
Modern cybersecurity is heavily reliant on AI. Because of the evolving nature of cyberthreats, with criminals using sophisticated mechanisms to breach systems, it’s essential that those systems tasked with defending technology infrastructure and applications are adaptable and agile as well. This requires that AI-powered security systems can monitor the evolution of threats and identify new patterns and trends. This allows security systems to provide a defence against emerging and rapidly changing threats as they develop. Something that humans would find difficult to match.
We’re also seeing that it’s impossible to get the full value from AI in isolation. Organisations need to leverage an ecosystem of software and service providers, as well as data providers, to get maximum value from it. Technology alone doesn’t create great AI capability, organisations need to recognise that AI’s primary interface is with humans and therefore needs to continue to deliver the intersection between technology and people.
While we’re already benefitting from AI in business today, the maturity of individual organisations plays a large part in determining the value they’re receiving.
The key areas that you should be looking at to leverage the benefits of AI are:
- Have a customer-led understanding of how they want to interact with your organisation.
- Ensure that employees, processes, and technology are orchestrated collectively to deliver against the customer mandate.
- Experimenting and deploying AI capabilities that meet defined customer expectations and desired organisational objectives. Every technology opportunity may not be a relevant technology opportunity for your organisation.
- Leverage data in ways that allow better decisions to be made faster, be that to enable customer self-service or leadership decisions making.
- Recognise that AI is a journey and requires considerable iterative and agile progression. This can’t be done in isolation of changing the behaviour of people, both customers and employees.
- Considering ways in which core business processes can be reimagined as a result of the opportunity that AI provides – for example, assessing employee happiness by interpreting the tone of their emails.