Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used as a business tool, but many companies are struggling to keep up with the evolving technology. Just 41 percent of the businesses surveyed for Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report confirm that they have either made progress with or implemented AI into their workflow, and a mere 15 percent of business leaders feel ready to lead a team made up of both humans and AI workers.
Machines’ ability to process and store millions of data points all at once is appealing (and can certainly affect the bottom line in a positive way), even though humans are much better suited to deal with out-of-the-box situations and exceptions to rules. But some businesses have already started to overcome this hurdle.
Humana, for one, has developed AI customer service representatives that rely on metrics like emotional score. Seventy percent of human decisions are made based on emotion, and Humana has put that to good use — the company found that when its emotional metrics get better, so do other key performance indicators. A good example of this is Amelia, developed by IPsoft. This humanlike AI platform understands everyday language. She learns quickly and gets smarter. She adapts and uses unique cognitive and emotional intelligence to present personalized interactions with customers.
The hard work of implementing AI deters many companies from reaping those rewards. Most are still limiting AI usage to the easiest possible areas; computer security and other “machine-to-machine” functions remain its top area of integration for 44 percent of companies. Keeping AI an IT-centric tool can still be profitable, however. Just ask Microsoft, which doubled Bing’s search engine market share in 2015 by boosting the platform’s search abilities with AI features.
Putting in the hours with AI can benefit not just IT, but also the entire business. Use initial efforts to incorporate AI as an opportunity to discuss the company’s overall strategic direction, and develop a road map. Getting everyone from customer service representatives to the CEO and board of directors on the same page with AI can have benefits both for the company’s bottom line and for business leaders spearheading the change. Here are just a few of the rich rewards that await anyone willing to embrace AI’s possibilities companywide:
1. More thorough data sets: Gartner research shows that companies that use machine learning for measuring value are better able to consolidate and report where inefficiencies exist and where business is thriving. AI also helps business leaders unearth undiscovered insights in previously collected information, whether that be old annual reports, employee surveys, or consumer feedback on social media.
Incorporating AI into the value discovery process makes it much simpler, easier, and cost-effective to gather valuable insights and share them with all relevant parties. The increase in type and quality of data collected also allows for new KPIs to emerge. These KPIs can help leaders see how and why parts of the business work as well as where redundancies can be eliminated. Additionally, AI can complement human expertise, automating repetitive tasks and allowing skilled workers to flex their talents.
2. Better mentoring opportunities: There’s no question that politics can infiltrate any workplace — promotions, pay, and even mentorship opportunities can often be infused with political overtones. Bias is known to affect women and minority employees, but AI can help mitigate the unfortunate systemic imbalances that affect these individuals and ultimately hurt the organizations missing out on their talents.
Although AI can only operate on the information it’s given (i.e., if the data presented to machine learning capabilities is overly biased, the output is likely to show that bias as well), imagine what kind of impartiality this technology could bring to in-house mentoring programs or promotions season. It could also do consistent scans to identify whether any particular employee subset is being compensated or treated differently.
3. Improved user experience: Given that Forrester estimates a better user experience can increase a company’s revenue by $1 billion, leaders should pay close attention to how AI can improve the way consumers interact with their businesses. AI is constantly improving, and one of its easiest business applications is giving customers better interfaces through which to access the company. This includes all sorts of capabilities: voice recognition, automation, and apps that make the experience seamless no matter the platform.
AI can help automate website improvements, reducing the workload of data scientists; it can also help improve recommendation and personalization features. ContentSquare, for example, offers an AI-powered tool that automatically provides user experience advice. One of the features of this tool enables it to identify website areas with especially high or low performance levels and alerts the web team to check on them.
Human expertise and nuance is irreplaceable, but AI can fill knowledge gaps and eliminate tedious administrative and data entry tasks. As more and more companies hop on the AI train, don’t miss out on the many benefits AI can bring your business. Your competition won’t.
Mark Minevich — two-time author and B20 member — founded Going Global Ventures to guide leaders through the global economy. Mark is a senior fellow of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a vice chair at Comtrade Group, and a UNOPS advisor. He is also an expert in digitization, autonomy, and AI.