How AI Can Boost Your Company Results
The hype around artificial intelligence (AI) is at an all-time high, with the AI technology market forecasted to reach $37 billion by 2025. Indeed, there has been a great deal of discussion around the opportunities and threats to business management and workforce in general.
When it comes to AI, there’s a reason for the hype – the potential payoff of embracing it is enormous. In this article, you will gain insight into how companies are already using AI, and find out what can be accomplished with AI in business management.
Hand in hand: fear and embrace
According to the PwC survey, 72% of business executives believe AI will be a business advantage of the future. 55% think that AI can boost productivity, support strategy, and generate growth. About the same margin also believe that using AI solutions outweighs the potential downside of employment concerns. In particular, 54% of businesses already implementing AI have experienced an increase in productivity.
There are also studies warning that a big slice of the workforce is about to lose their jobs because of artificial intelligence. In 2013, an Oxford University study predicted 47% of jobs could be automated by 2033. A more recent report by PwC has been more conservative in its prediction, stating that only 30% of jobs will be at risk of automation.
Undoubtedly, the future of work will be affected by automation and artificial intelligence, and it is easy to get caught up in the hype of “worker versus machine”. But that overlooks the fundamental role HR and business leaders will play in constructing work and workplaces best suited to the emerging future. The question isn’t which jobs are going to be replaced, but rather, what kind of work will be redefined, and how.
In reality, technology and job types have always evolved together. Solving the problems of work evolution requires deconstructing work to see the tasks within the jobs or occupations, but also “reconstructing work,” assembling those tasks into new jobs and occupations. This demands new HR and leadership capabilities, so vital new sets of emerging capabilities can be built into the broader organisation.
In a survey by BCG, nearly 70% said they are not fearful that AI will automate their own jobs. The same amount of respondents hope that AI will take over some of their presumably dull and unpleasant current tasks. However, 84% of respondents agree that AI will require employees to learn new skills within the next five years and augment their existing skills.
“Even with rapid advances, AI won’t be able to replace most jobs anytime soon. But in almost every industry, people using AI are starting to replace people who don’t use AI, and that trend will only accelerate.” – Erik Brynjolfsson, Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management
How companies are using AI
“Artificial intelligence is the future. Artificial intelligence is science fiction. Artificial intelligence is already a part of our everyday lives. All those statements are true; it just depends on what flavour of AI you are referring to,” said long-time tech journalist Michael Copeland in one of his articles.
Firstly, let’s look at how AI is being talked about today: AI is the big umbrella that encompasses terms like machine learning and deep learning.
Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2017 report describes AI as a subset of a larger, more important category of technologies (MI) that also includes machine learning, deep learning, cognitive analytics, robotics process automation (RPA), and bots, to name a few. “Collectively, these and other tools constitute machine intelligence: algorithmic capabilities that can augment employee performance, automate increasingly complex workloads, and develop ‘cognitive agents’ that simulate both human thinking and engagement.”
With the help of AI, companies can improve customer experience, augment employee performance, automate work processes, and develop intelligent agents to help with a lot of repetitive business processes.
A great example of automating the repetitive business process is the case of multinational banking and financial services JPMorgan, where learning machine software does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours. They are using AI to automate high finance and improve employee productivity.
Here is what else is happening in the world:
- Facebook revealed their plan for going all-in into AI, AR, and VR at the annual F8 conference.
- “The Era of Mobile Internet is Over” as Baidu is heavily investing in AI.
- Telecom is starting to benefit from AI to cut costs and improve customer experience, for example, Vodafone
- Deloitte calls AI (or MI as they refer to it in their article) to receive 64% of total investments according to the Global CIO Survey.
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Artificial intelligence in business management
Valuable business and market insights
Better analysis of insights can improve your business’ return on investment by 10 to 20%, and drive average profit growth of 14%, according to McKinsey & Company. However, in an age of information overload, the human brain is incapable of processing the vast amounts of data to translate that information into knowledge – to make better decisions in business processes optimisation.
To be effective, business and consumer data gathered from various resources need to be analyzed and turned into clear and meaningful insights. This can be done at a faster pace using AI through data mining and analysis. These insights can then be fed back to the business to better its processes.
In 2017, Pfizer Australia adopted an AI-based data analyst to achieve better business decision-making. Using Complexica’s What-if Simulator, Pfizer tests scenarios based on internal and external data sets. Pfizer brand manager, Andrew Endicott, commented:
“We have found that answering complex ‘what-if’ questions is a challenging and time-consuming endeavour. We believe that Complexica’s What-if Simulator can provide Pfizer Australia with a platform for scenario analysis that will improve our decision making in the future.”
Empowering sales & marketing
Olin Hyde, CEO and founder of LeadCrunch, suggests that AI creates superhuman salespeople. They cannot be replaced by a machine, but a machine can undoubtedly make them smarter and stronger.
On average, sales reps spend 80% of their time qualifying leads and only 20% closing,” Alex Terry writes at CRM Magazine. “Qualifying leads requires advance research and many phone and email hours trying to hone in on a lead that can be turned into a sale. What if this vetting process could be done by a machine that engaged all inbound leads in an amiable, human-like way?”
AI performs mundane tasks, so sales professionals can focus on more important work, such as relationship-building. In other words, while the machines identify leads, salespeople will be responsible for applying the human touch.’
The case of Epson America
One company that has seen significant benefits from AI is Epson America. In 2016, the company was receiving around 60,000 leads per year from trade shows, direct mail, email marketing, social media, print and online advertising, and a successful brand awareness campaign. Whether they were good, bad, qualified or not, they would all be turned over to salespeople whose availability to follow up was inconsistent – there were not enough resources to manage all these leads.
The company then implemented an AI-powered sales assistant made by Conversica. It’s a virtual assistant named Angie that sends about 30,000 emails a month and interprets the responses to determine who is a hot lead. She sets the appointment for the appropriate salesperson and seamlessly hands off the conversation to the human.
After implementing this technology, Epson’s leads are now followed up promptly and persistently until their AI assistant gets a response. Chris Nickel, Epson’s senior manager of commercial marketing, says
“Because the outreach to leads takes 6-8 times, Conversica is a true force multiplier for our sales team.”
After a lead is passed to one of Epson’s partners, the AI assistant follows up to make sure the customer was satisfied. Sometimes, the response to that follow-up identifies a new sales opportunity, such as “everything went great, and actually we are looking to buy another 60 projectors,” giving Epson the opportunity to quickly capitalize on a new sales opportunity before the competition.
A topic closely related to AI assistants is predictive analytics. This technology can help companies better prioritize the use of their sales and marketing resources, and keep the business growing without hiring new sales reps or increasing the marketing budget. It also increases agility by giving companies feedback quickly, instead of waiting to analyse results months later. Predictive analytics can also help sales and marketing by:
- identifying ideal customer profiles and segments;
- scoring leads based on behaviour and fit to prioritise sales efforts;
- keeping your team lean by automating manual activity;
- bolstering account-based strategies;
- Moving upmarket and expanding into new territories with promising leads;
- adopting a standard, data-driven framework for decision-making.
In business management, the trend is becoming more customer-centric, personalized, and data-driven. As technology continues to progress, current practices will continue to evolve. In the end, it’s about creating real customer value. No matter how businesses achieve that, being open and adaptive to change is one step closer to staying competitive and relevant in the face of new challenges, whether brought by humans or technology.
Most business leaders expect significant changes from AI in the next five years. But according to AI industry experts, the more dramatic effects of AI may occur within 10 to 20 years. That means that just about any company today needs a plan with respect to AI – it’s up to you to decide which technology will keep you competitive. Keep yourself informed, choose a strong platform and watch your business reap the benefits.