Operating systems came into wide usage in the 1970’s, allowing computers to switch from running one application to another.
It wasn't long before personal computing made it possible for someone to switch from data entry to shooting alien spaceships in a video game.
Times have changed.
These days, computers are managing other computers, inanimate objects, and digital information. As far as managing human interactions, there's still a ways to go.
But it's safe to say that through artificial intelligence projects, we are entering an era in which machines are doing more than performing tasks. They're helping us understand the world and make better decisions.
Artificial intelligence projects benefit every business.
We're not talking about the frightening kind of artificial intelligence from science-fiction movies.
We're also not talking about artificial intelligence projects that take jobs away. Yes, there are robots on the factory floor and cars are driving themselves.
These are the artificial intelligence projects that seem to make the headlines. But there's a wealth of artificial intelligence being used in tandem with humans.
And companies would be smart to use artificial intelligence projects in situations where their computers are already interacting with one another.
The real potential of artificial intelligence lies in its ability to pull out insights.
The Internet gave us access to on-demand data. We've got so much data we don't even know what to do with it all.
Artificial intelligence is working toward a world of on-demand insight instead.
Even so, a lot of companies aren't fully embracing artificial intelligence projects. For most people, it seems nothing more than a curiosity.
But it's something to start watching more seriously. Artificial intelligence is expected to be a pivotal part of the business world - and beyond.
Here are some of the ways artificial intelligence projects are changing the face of business.
1. Automation of Manual Processes
As technology has advanced over the years, one of the constants has been the automation of work.
It started with labor saving machines such as tractors for farmers and appliances for running the home. Later, industrial robots and basic systems were incorporated. They were used to automate things like hotel reservations.
Today, we're seeing advanced robots working right alongside humans in factories.
Many have viewed artificial intelligence projects as the elimination of blue collar jobs. But it's not really blue collar vs. white collar. It's more a matter of routine vs. non-routine work.
In other words, as industrial era machines once automated physical work, artificial intelligence is now automating routine cognitive processes.
This isn't just some trend. It's already happening.
Smart algorithms are stepping in as junior lawyers for legal discovery. Or they take care of routine journalistic work like summarizing box scores or financial reports. Not only do they do it well, they can do it 24 hours per day.
And without getting bored by the drudgery.
But this is a good thing. A company could use artificial intelligence to automate the compiling of data from various reports. This includes industry reports not found in standard databases.
This is usually labor intensive and very time-consuming.
From there, artificial intelligence can then perform an analysis to determine a particular company's profitability. Artificial intelligence now covers these routine cognitive processes. That allows more time for humans to do their jobs without being bogged down by the routine stuff.
2. Virtual Assistance
This is probably the most obvious way people have incorporated artificial intelligence projects.
When you or someone near you talks into their phone to find directions to a restaurant, that is artificial intelligence.
This is common now. But if you're old enough to remember a time when this wasn't the way, it seemed like something out in the far away future.
Companies are also using chatbots for different purposes. Customer service is the biggest of these. It may seem rather impersonal to have a chatbot deal with an unhappy customer. But, the potential exists for blending machine driven assistance with human customer service.
Chatbots can be helpful at times when there is a spike in demand for customer service. For example, when the internet goes out or a plane is delayed. Artificial intelligence can be deployed to handle the simple questions like when your internet will be up again or what other flights are available.
Then more difficult and specific questions can be handled by humans in a more enhanced way.
Chatbots are also proving to have value in marketing efforts. Chatbot apps have been used to help market various products and events. Plus, they're creating a shift in how people interact with technology.
Actual virtual assistants may soon be as commonplace as Siri and Alexa.
3. Generating Insights
Data is essentially the raw material of the digital economy.
Gone are the days of data being trapped in a crazy funhouse of incompatible database and protocols. Or worse yet, buried in those old metal filing cabinets.
But data is relatively useless if there's no effective machinery to transform it into something of value. Enter machine learning.
Yes, modern systems can take in billions of data points and analyze them in minutes. And that's pretty amazing. But they also learn from these data points and get better at it over time.
And the ability of artificial intelligence to learn is what makes its systems so powerful. Their ability to adapt when market behavior changes while improving performance as more data comes in makes them priceless to any business.
4. Unlocking Unstructured Data
Well, in the past, nearly all of the data we analyzed was structured data. That meant it got captured and immediately stored in some sort of database.
This could be in the form of cash receipts or answers to customer surveys, for example. Most of the rest of the data got lost.
That used to work until the digital world came along.
It's been estimated that 80% of digital data is unstructured. And while analyzing unstructured data is new, the importance of its impact is expected to increase dramatically over the next ten years.
This is where artificial intelligence projects will really start making sense.
For example, imagine an energy company discovers it needs to lay a gas pipeline. They will need to know information from the past. Such as, what was built in the area before, how the area was used and what sorts of problems were encountered in the past.
It isn't helpful if most of this information is in paper reports that have been on a shelf for years.
Applying artificial intelligence projects to analyze unstructured data could also be used to understand consumer conversations. By being able to learn and identify customers’ personality types, they could then be served by someone with a compatible service style.
That's an extra touch that doesn't really exist... just yet.
There are a few main objectives to keep in mind as you begin to put in place artificial intelligence projects into your business strategies.
They are as follows:
Pay attention to which activities have an immediate impact on revenue and cost.
Many companies, like Amazon, have seen the value of artificial intelligence projects to reduce fraud and bad debt. They've also decreased the number of customers who didn’t get their goods, as well as suppliers who didn’t get paid.
Artificial intelligence has made Amazon more operationally efficient and effective. And all of that equals an increase in revenue.
Focus on artificial intelligence projects that help you produce more without losing personnel.
Again, artificial intelligence doesn't equate to huge job loss. Or any job loss, for that matter.
For example, the staff of the Associated Press was once struggling to produce the massive numbers of earnings stories. The number of people on their writing staff versus the number of publicly held companies was just too extreme.
So they began working with an artificial intelligence firm to train the software to automatically write those short earnings news stories. They were able to greatly increase the number written.
That might sound like bad news for the staff writers, but the artificial intelligence software was just one machine. The other was the digital data feed that AP gets from a financial information provider.
In the end, none of the journalists lost a job. In fact, because of these artificial intelligence projects, they were freed up to write more in-depth stories on business trends.
It was a win-win.
Move it from the front office to the back office.
It might seem like companies would get the greatest returns when their artificial intelligence projects interact with customers more directly. In areas like marketing, sales, and service, for example.
But the experts are saying to keep the focus on artificial intelligence projects more behind the scenes. Areas, where there is a lot of computer-to-computer interaction, is ideal. Think IT and financing.
If you haven't yet hooked onto the idea of using artificial intelligence projects as part of your business strategy, now is the time to get on board.
On the other hand, if you HAVE had any experiences with artificial intelligence projects, feel free to comment below.