Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has for decades been the subject of science fiction and fantasy films. But we’ve come a long way since ‘Skynet’. Only a few months ago, Facebook deactivated a chatbot project, as the bots had developed their own language to communicate with each other, making them redundant to the human employees ‘in charge’.
This is an extreme example though. There are many practical A.I. applications that can support the day-to-day running of a business, and you don’t need to be a Robotics Engineer to learn how to use them.
With all this in mind Sage, accounting and payroll platform providers, have identified 5 types of A.I., and have highlighted which areas of business they can be applied.
How can A.I. be used in business?
A.I. technology uses algorithms to analyse data, sometimes from many different sources and then uses this data to spot trends and irregularities. It can analyse vast amounts of data much faster than any data analyst, proving an effective tool for businesses. As highlighted by Facebook’s recent hiccup though, the key to success is ensuring that your human employees can work effectively together with your A.I. applications.
In 2016, a Narrative Science survey found that 38% of enterprises were already using A.I. to automate manual, repetitive tasks, with this, predicted to rise to 62% by 2018. However, a Forrester survey conducted that same year, found that 39% of businesses are still unclear about what A.I. can be used for in a practical business context.
This shows a real gap in knowledge. The science is moving fast, but us business owners need it packaged up for us in an easy-to-implement way, (we’re not all experts in robotic science!).
Here are 5 ways that A.I. applications can be applied in multiple areas of your business today:
1) Facebook for Business
It seems perhaps a little obvious to mention Facebook, but it is a great example of how machine-learning algorithms can track user behaviour and improve your ad targeting. Most of us are familiar with Facebook for personal use, however, there is a suite of enhanced tools available ‘behind the scenes’ for businesses, that gives you access to the goldmine of data held within Facebook’s platform. It’s intuitive, user-friendly and immediately accessible.
All you need to do to gain access is to create a ‘Page’ for your business.
Facebook ‘Insights’ provides you with a detailed analysis of your Page performance, including ‘views’, ‘likes’ and what demographic the posts are reaching. It provides specific information, such as the times during which each group of people are most active, and the types of post they respond to most – helping you to create new Facebook content that you know your audience is going to like.
For videos that you post, it tells you how long individuals watched for, and even if they had the volume turned on! This level of detail is invaluable for a small-to-medium business, helping you to understand the audience you are reaching. Perhaps you want to target a new audience for your business, Facebook is a great platform to test new products and content with this new demographic, helping you to find out what they do, and don’t like.
‘Insights’ allows you to export data to Excel, it will draft posts for you based on posting history, that you can choose to publish (or not!), and provides a detailed analysis of how the performance of your page, posts and events compared to similar pages, (your competitors) on Facebook.
2) Intelligent Candidate Matching for Recruitment
From interview assistant Bots that can answer the same question over and over again, to video interviewing and passive candidate identification, the applications for A.I. in recruitment are vast, and can remove much of the ‘donkey work’ from a recruiter’s day.
Creating job listings and posting them in the right places, using the right language to generate engagement from the right calibre of candidate; all can all be enhanced by the use of A.I. applications.
Technology such as Arya uses big data alongside behavioural pattern recognition to provide you with the best candidates for your roles, matching candidate applications and specific criteria outlined in the job listing to create a long list for a more personal interaction.
Having sufficient staff to deal with telephone calls, emails and social media interactions, around the clock in a world that never sleeps, is one of the greatest challenges for any business.
Making use of a ‘Chatbot’ might be the answer. Think: ‘Siri’ for the iPhone users out there.
Gartner predicts that by 2019 requests for customer support through mobile messaging apps will exceed customer support by traditional social media and that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be with A.I. ING Bank, The Hyatt, Vodaphone and FedEx are all now using Chatbots to support their customer service requirements.
Chatbots are created for a specific business purpose. For example, an online shop might create a chatbot that will help you purchase something; instead of customers taking time to browse a website, they could have a ‘conversation’ with a Bot to explain what they are looking for, and the Chatbot then provides links to the products that fit the description.
Another great application for Chatbots is to create your own personalised virtual assistant.
Sage has this year launched the world’s first accounting chatbot, ‘Pegg’, an A.I. virtual assistant designed specifically to help you manage your finances. Pegg can keep a real-time account of your expenses, track incoming payments, and automatically balance your books. The more you interact with Pegg, the more intelligent the Chatbot will become, adapting to how you work and providing you with recommendations tailored to your business.
For customer service support, there are many ‘bot builders’ available online. Try MEOKAY, an easy to use tool that both skilled-developers and non-developers can take part in creating a conversational Messenger Bot.
4) Cognitive Technology for Asset Management
A.I. can be used within organisations that use heavy machinery, to detect immediate faults and make real-time decisions, invaluable to businesses where mechanical failure would be catastrophic. They gather critical information from every sensor, every moving part. The insight this information provides includes assessment of functionality and efficiency, but also the prediction of mechanical failure, the automated creation of maintenance schedules and, with machine-learning, intelligent guidance to help you maximise your yield.
As an example, DataRPM’s Cognitive Predictive Maintenance Platform, integrates information from multiple sources to analyse and provide insights on a single platform.
5) A.I. Writers
A.I. writers can be used to generate data reports, for example: quarterly earnings, market data and regulatory reporting. Rather than employees spending hours manually analysing and compiling data, you can use A.I applications to automatically create these reports. They work by collating data from multiple sources within your business, using predetermined ‘intent’, or a set of inputted objectives, to ensure that the focus is on building strategy from the statistics.
Companies like PWC, Deloitte and MasterCard, are using technology such as Quill to do exactly that, the language technology is reportedly so smart, that it’s impossible to distinguish it from a human.
Artificial Intelligence based applications are not things that can be just ‘bolted on’ to your business. For them to truly provide you with accurate information, and efficiently perform the tasks they are designed to do, they need to be integrated with your existing technology, and the data sources need to be clean and accurate. I.e. the data you get out will only be as good as the data you put in. A.I. is not something to be feared either! It is not about replacing people but helping support people with the mundane and repetitive processes, allowing you to spend time on more proactive and productive tasks.