Artificial intelligence is delivering real results to innovative businesses. Today, companies are leveraging AI-enabled automation tools to complete complex processes faster than humanly possible. What’s more, AI platforms can personalize marketing campaigns to build stronger relationships with customers. These benefits of artificial intelligence explain why 270% more organizations used AI in 2019 than in 2015, according to Gartner.
The rise of AI in business impacts all companies, not just those in the tech sector. As a result, businesses across industries are blending artificial intelligence into their operations to boost efficiencies and profitability. But success requires firms to develop a strong understanding of the technologies driving the AI revolution.
A Quick Tutorial of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence brings human traits like creativity, problem-solving and reasoning to applications and machines, according to ZDNet. This adaptive programming enables devices to complete tasks usually performed by people, such as driving cars and processing data. A subset of AI — machine learning — pertains to applications that can learn new things on their own. To gain cognitive abilities, machine-learning systems are designed to analyze data and then update their programming independently. This autonomous improvement differs from applications that can perform new tasks only after a person reprograms them.
What makes machine learning possible? Neural networks. These complex systems feature mammoth layers of digital connections that Tech Crunch compared to the intricate structure of the human mind. Through these connections, AI systems can intake large data sets and find patterns within them. From there, they analyze patterns to make conclusions about them. Those conclusions serve as the basis for expanding their intelligence.
To see machine learning in action, look no further than Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant. Alexa “lives in” the Echo and other Amazon devices, playing music and performing other tasks when users speak to it. According to Forbes, each interaction with users makes Alexa a little bit smarter. Alexa documents each mistake and analyzes that data to improve its performance.
Much like when people attempt to learn something new, Alexa refines its abilities through experience. In other words, practice makes perfect for devices with machine learning capabilities.
Organizations in All Industries Are Becoming AI Companies
Alexa makes Amazon more than one of the world’s largest online retailers. It’s also one of the most influential AI companies, as AI impacts Amazon’s company-wide operations. For instance, Amazon relies on AI to strengthen the transport and storage of products, as well as project product demand, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Amazon uses AI to improve the customer experience, as well. Wired reported how Amazon harnesses an advanced form of machine learning — called deep learning — to tailor product recommendations for each shopper. But Amazon isn’t the only company furthering the impact of artificial intelligence in everyday life. Other companies using AI to reshape the customer experience include:
- Facebook: The social media giant uses facial recognition tools to suggest members to tag in photos.
- Netflix: The streaming service uses subscriber data to personalize movie and show suggestions.
- Microsoft: The tech company developed an AI tool that translates documents from one language to another in seconds.
When companies invest in AI, it doesn’t merely impact consumers. Workforces experience impacts, too — and often to their benefit.
AI Tools That Change How People Work
The acceleration of artificial intelligence in business has fueled concerns that these technologies could replace some positions. So far, that hasn’t been the case overall. In fact, Fast Company reported that AI produced more jobs than it eliminated in 2018.
Many workers are embracing the support provided by AI systems. A recent study by Oracle and Future Workplace found nearly two-thirds of workers would trust AI-driven robots more than their boss. Additionally, half of workers leverage AI applications to do their jobs. In truth, most AI companies aren’t motivated to replace workers with machines. The real goal of artificial intelligence companies is to develop tools that empower workers to do more in less time. Harvard Business Review outlined the emerging effects of these tools, which include:
- Mining data to identify business opportunities.
AI-supported data platforms can use a mix of internal and external data to find the best markets for a company’s products and services. One tool that makes this possible is Cognos from IBM, which delivers intuitive reports and customizable dashboards that point businesses toward new opportunities.
- Predicting behavior and anticipating consumer needs.
AI makes it possible to forecast online activity with greater accuracy. For instance, Deloitte offers a tool called Blab that taps into data on news websites and social platforms to predict upcoming trends. These insights help companies do more than foresee consumer conversations. They can also develop campaigns in advance to take part in trends in ways that generate revenue.
- Customizing promotions for individual consumers.
Advertising agencies now consider AI essential to personalizing the marketing experience. But many of these firms aren’t relying on third-party AI companies to build these capabilities. According to Adweek, agencies like Epsilon, Heat and R/GA now have in-house departments dedicated to rolling AI tools into campaigns. These technologies offer the ability to analyze past behavior and deploy promotions tailored to individual needs.
- Protecting people from fraud.
Online shopping may offer convenience, but its reliance on credit cards increases the risk of fraud. To fight back, the consumer protection firm FICO created a machine learning tool that spots irregularities in consumer behavior. When transactions seem suspicious, automated processes can alert investigators who can address those risks.
- Automating interactions with customers.
Companies are using automated chatbots to answer customer questions 24 hours a day, and the most advanced chatbots can communicate with customers in lifelike ways. Note that bots aren’t replacing customer service reps — Levi’s and Bank of America rely on chatbots to fill in when human workers are unavailable. This approach lets humans and chatbots work as a team to provide superior customer service.
Emerging Players in the Artificial Intelligence Business
Tech giants like IBM and Microsoft will contribute to shaping the role of AI in business, but they won’t be alone. Startups will also drive innovation in this sector. In 2019, Forbes ranked the top AI companies with machine learning or AI at the heart of their operations. According to the list, these emerging AI companies are positioned to help define the future of AI:
Founded by two Google veterans, Nuro develops technologies that power automated vehicles. However, the company focuses on delivering products, not transporting people. In a recent win, Nuro signed a contract with Walmart to deliver groceries to customers in Texas. That partnership follows agreements with Domino’s and Kroger.
2. Aurora Innovation
Like Nuro, Aurora creates automated driving technologies. But instead of making deliveries, Aurora’s goal is to develop driverless car technologies that transport people safely. As reported by Automotive News, the company will work with established automakers, not manufacture a new fleet of vehicles. In 2019, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles provided funding with the option of integrating Aurora’s technologies into their cars, trucks and SUVs.
Automation streamlines the manufacturing process, but malfunctions are common. To correct process issues, Uptake uses AI to mine complex data about why failures occur. This analysis allows its partners to enhance their systems and prevent future performance issues. While Uptake’s services benefit private-sector clients, the company works with organizations in the public sector, too. For instance, the Department of Defense contracted with Uptake in 2018 to oversee the efficiency of vehicles used by the U.S. Army.
Lemonade offers an AI-infused app designed to improve how people get and use home insurance. The app includes a digital assistant named Maya that can provide insurance quotes to prospective customers in less than 90 seconds. Plus, the app can intake and resolve claims without a human broker. The company’s automated approach to insurance appears to have merit, as Money named Lemonade one of the best home insurance companies in 2020.
This data analysis company monitors online activity to identify newsworthy content for its clients. For example, the United Nations relies on Dataminr alerts to spot warning signs of strife throughout the world. And reporters for The New York Times use this service to learn about potential news stories first reported on social media.
While these AI companies rely on technology to serve customers, people remain the backbone of every successful business. To develop the skills and knowledge for a successful career, consider earning your online bachelor’s degree in business management. This credential can boost your salary potential while opening the door to careers in a range of industries.
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