From news outlets to social media, the topic of AI seems to come up time and again.

From news outlets to social media, the topic of AI seems to come up time and again. With so much focus on the topic, it’s easy to dismiss it as nothing more than the latest buzzword. But this would be a mistake. AI is a broad area that encompasses a number of cutting-edge tools that can add real value to almost any company’s business strategy and operations. Taking a deeper look at this technology can help explain its ongoing popularity, as well as provide key information that can help you realize the power of AI with respect to your own business intelligence goals.

What Is AI?

AI or artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that focuses on intelligence in computerized systems. Today, this intelligence is achieved mainly with the help of machine learning (ML) algorithms and large datasets fed to these algorithms. Discovering patterns in data, machines learn different tasks, from natural language processing and computer vision to complex decision-making. AI consultants from Iflexion list a range of feasible real-world applications of this ability of ML models to learn.

The Value of AI for SMEs and Enterprise Companies

The applications for AI are widespread, whether you’re an SME or an enterprise business. A study by Gartner analysts predicts that 80 percent of customer interactions will be managed by AI-powered chatbots and intelligent assistants by the year 2020. Improved customer experience and a reduction in operational costs are just a few of the benefits that companies, both big and small can expect when adopting an AI solution. Of course, businesses can also expect more comprehensive customer data and greater ease when it comes to translating that data into meaningful actions via machine learning.

Enterprise organizations that choose to use an intelligent automation system can reduce costly redundancies and complexities in their operations; significantly improving company-wide efficiency and even reducing the amount of time that it takes to get products and services to market. According to PwC, robotic process automation (RPA), a form of AI that uses software robots to automate processes, can even help businesses meet industry compliance regulations and improve internal auditing capabilities.

Many companies have more data than they know what to do with. For data-intensive companies, AI is an essential tool for smarter extraction and analysis of Big Data. Likewise, RPA can simplify the data process from beginning to end, covering everything from retrieving data, to aggregating it and even transferring it into documents. When coupled with machine learning for data analysis, the entire data process becomes more streamlined and less error-prone, ensuring a more accurate assessment of data and any derived insights.

How Real Companies Are Using AI

The power and profitability of AI hasn’t been lost on investors. A 2016 Technology Vision report by Accenture found that investments in artificial intelligence startups had increased 20x in the previous four years. Technology Industry leaders have also taken notice, investing billions of dollars in AI. Google alone has acquired more than 14 AI-based startups and has an entire division solely dedicated to advancements in this sector, complete with product lines ranging from cloud apps to smartphones and intelligent personal assistants.

The transportation industry, specifically ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft, also use AI. Machine learning is applied to help minimize ride wait times and match passengers with those going in the same direction, optimizing the customer experience while reducing driver mileage and traffic delays.

Banking is an industry that heavily utilizes AI, applying it to everything from fraud detection and check depositing (which uses image recognition) to personal and business credit approval or rejection decisions. All of which, are based on data and the business intelligence that it provides.

If you’ve ever used a streaming on-demand service like Netflix or Amazon, the movies and television program suggestions that you received were provided by a recommender system. This specialized machine learning algorithm is a form of AI.

But major businesses aren’t the only ones using AI. SMEs and enterprise organizations are also using it to automate payroll and HR, effectively manage data and eliminating tedious and repetitive tasks that can be better performed by automation. The last of which can dramatically improve company efficiency. In fact, companies like Salesforce have entire AI product lines that are designed to help almost any business save time and money.

The Future of Business Intelligence and AI

The business landscape has become increasingly competitive. As a result, only those companies that actively seek out the most innovative technologies and processes can truly gain a competitive advantage. Right now, AI may seem like a nice-to-have tool but it is quickly becoming the standard for everything from data management to intelligent automation.

Today, about 15 percent of all businesses use AI. However, a survey conducted by Adobe found that more than 30 percent of companies surveyed plan to add it to their agenda this year. Likewise, according to the MIT Sloan Management Review, half of all of the largest companies (or those with more than 100K employees) already have a defined AI-based strategy. The message is clear: AI is here to stay.

Businesses that aren’t in the tech space may feel like AI just isn’t for them. But marketing, which impacts nearly every company, regardless of industry, is one area that is already being strongly influenced by AI. Bespoke, or one-to-one, marketing has the potential to change the way that brands connect with consumers in a profound way via highly personalized messages, applications and even customer services experiences. In fact, a study by BrightEdge found that 29 percent of respondents believe that consumer personalization will be the next big marketing trend.

Conclusion

AI is one of the hottest topics of the day. But it’s more than just a buzzword. This powerful technology is already revolutionizing the way that companies do business and interact with their customers. Understanding what AI is, how it can be of value and its future in the world of business intelligence is essential for any company that wants to gain a meaningful advantage in the increasingly tech-driven business world.

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