The phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or AI typically brings to mind images of intelligent humanoid robots performing tasks instead of people. However, while robotics is an important branch of AI, it is by no means the only aspect of this science.
AI has far wider-spread applications, which are already being experienced in our everyday lives. Take for example the ‘auto-correct’ function on a smartphone – this is, in fact, an example of an artificial intelligence function that we encounter on a day-to-day basis. By identifying patterns, understanding trends and learning from past input, autocorrect is able to predict or suggest words and ‘correct’ spelling errors. While this sometimes ends up with amusing consequences, the fact of the matter is that the autocorrect function is constant evolving and improving, which is a cornerstone of AI.
Taking this ability to leverage historical data to identify patterns and predict future behaviours, a step further, AI has many applications in the business space. More specifically, AI is able to improve the decision-making quality, by automating processes and removing the human element, which often introduces errors. This is becoming increasingly important given the sheer volumes of data that many organisations have to deal with. Another benefit that AI brings to the business is the ability to use intelligent analytics to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, enhance productivity and increase profitability.
One example of the business side of AI lies within the sphere of financial management and stock trading. By using AI capabilities, systems can be created to leverage historical data to reduce errors in investment decisions. Machine Learning, an important component of AI, can use historical data in areas such as stock performance to forecast performance indicators. AI systems even have the ability to search through a variety of unstructured data sources, including news and press statements as well as social media content. This information can then be analysed for potential impact on stock prices, and the insight derived can be harnessed to predict changes and help investors to bid more intelligently.
Besides data and trend prediction capabilities in the financial sector, AI has many applications in diverse industry sectors. Using sophisticated algorithms, AI can identify patterns that influence human behaviour. Decision-makers can then leverage this insight to for their business requirements accordingly. For example, an artificial intelligent system using natural language processing, ontologies and reasoning can be effective in gathering and extracting information from large data sources and has the ability to identify the cause and effect within data. These knowledge processing systems through the process of learning, identify relationships and connections between data bases, help fulfil the role of marketing companies through effectively aiding in market segmentation and measurement of performance while reducing costs and improving accuracy.
AI also has many applications in the healthcare space that could revolutionise patient care scenario and save thousands of lives. By analysing patient data and using AI models to simulate treatment alternatives that can be planned and re-planned as more information becomes available, both the cost and quality of healthcare can be improved. Doctors can only rely on their learning and their memory of past diagnosis. But automating this process and drawing useful insights from huge volumes of data from patients in the past and the patient history can enable AI to supplement the doctor’s diagnosis using a wealth of additional information. Treatment can then be designed, again based on the effectiveness of historical treatments across a wider range of patients for improved accuracy.
The power of AI lies in its ability to understand associations between various streams of information, and constantly learning from the past and current behaviours in order to improve the insights delivered. This can deliver a number of business benefits. However, AI is also not applicable in every business or industry sector, and the pros and cons need to be weighed up to ensure that this technology is implemented for the right reasons and will contribute to the growth of the business.
By Shailendra Singh, Business Director, Africa Region, Wipro