Understanding the role and value of AI in enterprise

2019.10.24

Joshua Kwah

PERSPECTIVES

In 2019, 96.4% of top executives identified artificial intelligence (AI) as the top disruptive technology in which they are investing — up from 68.9% two years ago, Forbes reports. But while AI has become more tangible, measurable, and repeatable across industries, its value remains elusive to a wide range of business leaders. In a recent report, Gartner reported that 42% of businesses haven’t employed AI in their workforce due to a lack of understanding of its uses and benefits.

Now, organizations are establishing AI Centers of Excellence and other sandboxes to pilot AI capabilities. “Companies are ramping up their AI efforts in a way that appears to be mimicking cloud adoption — slow at first, but then quick, widespread implementation,” Entreprenuer observes. As we will find, business leaders who can identify applications for AI and implement it in a highly scalable way can get the most value from their structured data, unstructured data, and their employees.

 

Three Common Roles for AI Across Industries

Today, a majority of executives see AI driving a high degree of performance improvement in their overall business as well as their teams, value chains, and individuals. The following proven use cases highlight how companies are creating this success.

 

Role 1: Scalable Workflow Optimization

AI has the ability to step-change workflows, reducing cost and downtime while increasing speed and accuracy compared to traditional methods. AI is especially useful for processing unstructured data, which makes up 80% to 90% or more of all digital data today.

For example, hospitality and government employers provide their customer service personnel with transactional virtual assistants that can process multi-dimensional data, such as audio, video, images, and unstructured files. AI can help with the extraction of information from complex unstructured documents — including emails, legal files, and even handwritten notes — for validation in financial and legal sectors. “This augmentation of existing processes is a way to streamline or add value without asking much of the humans,” Forrester suggests.

In addition to boosting operational efficiency, these solutions are scalable and highly adaptable to other business areas. AI will increasingly take on tedious but mission-critical processes — even in highly regulated industries like healthcare — freeing up personnel to take on more high-level responsibilities.

 

Role 2: Purposeful and Personalized Customer Experience

AI can bring together structured and unstructured demographic, psychographic, and transactional data to provide business users with a unified view of customers. This allows brands to serve their customers in a personalized, timely, and proactive way with minimal friction.

For example, customers or customer service teams can access a predictive and personalized web interface that is powered by a semantic search engine. Users enjoy an individual experience that’s designed for their purposes, whether that is training, customer service, or eCommerce.

This may also include multi-function virtual assistants, which connect to mini-applications that use semantic search to inform, recommend, or transact on behalf of users. These solutions have applications in a variety of industries, from travel to maritime or logistics.

“We see virtual personal assistants in many employees’ futures, taking on predictable, rote tasks such as meeting scheduling, note-taking, and to-do nagging. Companies can gain enormous productive capacity for their most valuable human assets when they do this.” – Forrester, “Companies Must Start Creating Human-Machine Collaborations”

AI helps companies analyze customer behavior and anticipate product or service demand over time, which impacts the entire organization end-to-end — from manufacturing to inventory management to marketing. These tools are proven to drive customer retention and advocacy, and even facilitate more frequent transactions.

 

Role 3: Augment Workforces for Better Productivity

One of the most celebrated roles of AI is enabling individual knowledge workers to boost their performance and further business objectives — effectively partnering with the human workforce to increase productivity, efficiency, and decision-making. AI helps reduce the time it takes skilled staff to perform manual and repetitive tasks so they can focus on high-level initiatives.

For example, relationship mapping within semantic search engines helps accounting and legal professionals find connections by reviewing sensitive and complex documents. AI can even identify talent during the hiring process, improving upon traditional recruiting tactics. These applications often come with a payoff in the form of better morale and fulfillment, where employees can enjoy more meaningful, satisfying work.

 

Embracing AI Is About Empowering Your People

In all industries, success in AI is not about optimizing a single use case but about transforming business culture, starting with enhancing the work of employees. Today, 80% of organizations recognized their need to begin mastering the “art of human-machine collaboration.” As the adoption rate of AI in the corporate world grows to 80% – and even to 90% in the next 18 to 24 months, it is companies that align AI with the success of their personnel that will lead their industries.

 

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