The role and impact of AI made headlines last year, and this was most notable during major shopping dates. The Far East’s 24-hour shopping extravaganza saw Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba clock up a record US$31 billion in sales.1
It’s estimated around US$10 billion in sales were recorded within the first hour alone, putting the online superstore well on track to achieve a 27% year-on-year increase on the previous year’s one-day event.
Meanwhile, early estimates from the UK’s Black Friday bonanza put this year’s sales at around £10 billion.2 In South Africa, a total of 5.2 million online and card transactional sales took place during Black Friday.3
As with Alibaba, a significant portion of successful online transactions in the UK, were attributed to the adoption of AI. Even now, analysts across the globe are attempting to put a size on the AI prize amid predictions it could directly contribute around US$16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Notable gains are spread across all sectors with the big winners set to be in financial services, automotive, retail and healthcare.4
But regardless of whether or not you believe estimates to be accurate, there’s no doubting the huge impact AI, big data and machine learning are having on industry and commerce.
We’ve already carried out in-depth research into their impact. In 2018, Forrester Consulting, working on our behalf, conducted a survey of more than 700 senior decision makers from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It’s now universally acknowledged by more than four out of five (82%) CEOs, just how important data, analytics and AI are to business. There’s also a high degree of self-awareness among the vast majority, with many senior decision-makers readily acknowledging the increasingly competitive pressures they now face.
But organisations are struggling to meet customer expectations, make the most of the data they have, or plug into AI and machine learning techniques.
It emerged more than one in four (28%) admit they are still not sure they’re offering a friction-free experience for new customers. A similar number, (26%) also don’t believe they’re making the most of advanced analytics. Many admit they’re under pressure as cost-of-acquisition and cost to serve continue to rise (+57%), while at the same time, nearly half (45%) say customer retention, fraud and bad debt are also proving challenging.
Success from here on hinges on the ability to innovate, scale up offerings and, of course, the speed to get them to market.
It’s an area where, as a strategic partner, Experian is assisting clients across the globe solve their biggest challenges by continually offering innovation, speed and scale. New-to-market platform Ascend, which launched in South Africa in November last year, does just that. It brings the very latest in agile, analytical innovation, vital to helping quickly convert vast quantities of data into smart, actionable insights by leveraging the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence.
It’s ease of use cannot be over-stated. It enables clients to quickly call up the solution, query a file and make fast and accurate strategic decisions right there and then.
But this is just a brief snapshot of what AI can do. Our research showed just about every business today needs a plan to help drive growth and future-proof themselves from disruptors.
It’s clear many don’t, while others may be weighed down by legacy systems, they have been slow to move and now have some catching up to do. It’s never too late but those companies that wait much longer will find the playing field tilted even more steeply against them.
In all likelihood, while the past months have been something of a tipping point for AI, it is just the tip of the iceberg, because by the end of 2019, the AI-related sales numbers making the headlines will be far, far greater.