How Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Changing the Business World
Artificial intelligence, once a fixture of science fiction, is here. Over 50 million people have a smart speaker in their home. AI, paired with the IoT, creates limitless potential for changing the way we manage everyday tasks.
AI isn’t just a cool gadget, either. Businesses are leveraging the evolving technology to gain a competitive edge. Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing how we collect, evaluate, and leverage data and has changed the way we manage the day to day operations. The applications for AI are endless, but business trends show most organizations are benefiting from smart data-mining and operational automation.
Artificial Intelligence systems are highly effective in inspecting large volumes of data to uncover patterns and draw insightful conclusions. AI’s ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of information quickly has allowed it to influence almost every industry and every department in an organization. From human resources, to information technology and marketing, AI is changing how organizations operate.
Human resource departments are using AI to gain efficiencies in the recruitment process. Not only can AI handle the time-consuming process sorting through candidates and evaluating their experience or qualifications, but it can also analyze data far beyond a resume. Artificial intelligence can help reduce the impact of bias (and discrimination) in the hiring process by analyzing vast amounts of data objectively. This unbiased data evaluation can generate a list of top candidates, create relevant interview questions and help predict how likely an individual is to fit into an organization's unique culture.
IT departments are leveraging the data-mining capabilities of AI to collect massive amounts of computational information. The AI systems use real-time data analysis to identify outliers and isolate unexpected events. This information can be used to determine potential technical problems sooner and can help identify security events before they become full-blown breaches.
Perhaps the most widely known use of AI is in marketing Online retailer’s use of personal information have started national conversations on how much data a business can and should collect from consumers. Data collection allows retailers to identify individuals based on their search patterns, demographics, social media activity, and more. These data points are used to create highly-specific profiles for marketing purposes, allowing retailers to deliver customized marketing messages to a highly targeted audience.
Online retailers aren’t alone in the way they use AI. Brick and mortar retailers are also collecting data on their shoppers. Cameras and cell phone geolocation targeting allow them to examine how consumers behave. Which way do shoppers travel through a store? What marketing signs do they look at, and for how long? Which demographic type looks at the in-store marketing displays? What products do consumers purchase? This information can help a retailer make smart, targeted business decisions related to inventory management, marketing displays, and store set up that maximize their sales per square foot.
Smart manufacturing is utilizing industrial IoT and AI to install sensors that identify manufacturing bottlenecks, monitor equipment, and factory conditions, and optimize equipment productivity. These sensors gather data from every stage of the manufacturing process and help identify both systems issues and process issues that might have a negative impact on productivity or quality. In its white paper on “Tomorrow’s Information Factories” (see resources), Siemens describes ways they can use “inexhaustible streams of information” to optimize the design process and the flow of materials and energy. Siemens goes on to describe how they are creating digital copies of real-world manufacturing setups. These digital copies allow the measuring and testing of tens of thousands of alternative designs and processes to find manufacturing efficiencies. The combination of the digital simulation and the input of real-world data creates a never-ending knowledge loop that accelerates the rate of innovation.
Companies and cities are also leveraging AI and the IoT to create ‘smart infrastructure.’ Sensors placed on water delivery system pipes, for example, can identify impurities or leaks in the system before they become an issue. They also help geolocate the exact position of a leak or failure, allowing for faster and less expensive remediation.
While artificial intelligence is accelerating the pace of innovation, it still cannot think and reason the way humans can. In most cases, it will not act as a replacement for people, but as a supplemental tool. As machines improve in their ability to learn and adapt, the pace of innovation will continue to increase. What was once the dreams of science fiction writers will now be a required component to stay competitive in the fast-moving world of business.