At its core, the concept behind artificial intelligence is a straightforward one. It's simply a term that describes the ability of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require a human being (like visual and speech recognition, translation between languages, and even decision-making) totally on their own.
When you think about it in this perspective, it's not all too different from the concept of automation. You're assigning a job that would have previously required your total attention to a computer so you can focus on bigger and better things.
The implications of artificial intelligence, however, are far-reaching in terms of what they mean for businesses like yours. Make no mistake about it: artificial intelligence is one of the most important technological advancements to come along in quite some time and it absolutely deserves to be a pillar of your technology strategy.
The Business Impact of Artificial Intelligence
One of the most important subsets of artificial intelligence in a business context is also one of the most fascinating: machine learning. Machine learning is the idea that not only can you teach a computer to do something that would have previously required human interaction, but these computers can also learn and get better at this task the more frequently they do it.
Maybe the most widespread example of this in the modern era takes the form of the "Photos" app that ships with every copy of the MacOS operating system.
Have you ever added a photo to your library where each person is tagged by name? Mac’s Photos app automatically recognises these same people the next time you add a similar photo a few weeks later. That, in essence, is machine learning in action.
The Rise of AI-Powered "Virtual" Assistants
This itself gives way to a host of innovative ideas, like AI-powered assistants that become more effective as they're given the ability to "think" contextually. Google Assistant and Apple's Siri are two applications that fall into this category, though admittedly they are aimed at consumers and not enterprise users. In a business environment, you could speak to your AI assistant and give it a command the same way you would talk with a friend or colleague. You could say "find me the best price for a rental car for my upcoming trip to Cleveland" and have the assistant itself take over from there.
AI-Powered Chatbots: The Next Step in the Evolution of Customer Service
But in an enterprise environment, this has significant implications in terms of customer service too. A related concept are chatbots, which are essentially AI-powered text messaging applications that enable customers with the ability to perform many routine functions on their account without the need to speak to a human representative at any point.
- For example, a user could log onto your website, engage in a session with the chatbot and say "I want to look up my account and pay my current balance.”
- The application, which understands what those words mean in that specific context, can accept payment and even apply it to the appropriate account — all without the need to for an actual employee to do this so they can focus on more urgent tasks.
In truth, these solutions are already so sophisticated that you probably wouldn't realise you were speaking to a chatbot at all, if you weren't expressly told so.
AI for Business Growth and Innovation
In the larger enterprise sense, this can also help tackle challenges associated with business growth. Remember that AI (and especially solutions powered by machine learning) become more effective as you feed more data into them. Not only can AI-powered solutions assist with forecasting in the short-term with an eye towards growth, but these projection models can become more effective and more accurate as time goes on.
All of this brings with it the most important benefit of all: you've never had more accurate and actionable information to work from when it comes to making the right decisions for your business.
Powernet: Empowering Your Business for the Future with AI
Artificial Intelligence as a concept has come a long way in a short amount of time. Sure, there is still a lot of progress to be made. But even if you limit the discussion to only the current state of AI and concepts like machine learning, AI assistants, forecasting, and automation, it's easy to see what direction we're headed in.
We're not too far off from a future where everything that can be handled by a computer is, all with results that equal or even eclipse those of your own employees. What you're left with is a situation where your attention and effort can be focused on tasks that explicitly require it, injecting a boost of adrenalin into your business at the most critical moments.
That is certainly an exciting position to be in, and one that we should all welcome with open arms.
If you'd like to find out more information about artificial intelligence and how it can help your business, or if you've got any questions about how a managed service provider (MSP) might be able to help your organisation prepare for the future, contact Powernet today.