There’s no doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to radically transform the way we live and work. AI has already become a pervasive technology that is being used by consumers all over the world. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assist are but a few examples that make our lives easier, by reminding you of your anniversary, giving accurate suggestions for your spouse’s favorite restaurant and even go so far as to book a table.
While some may worry we are inching towards a dystopian future as depicted in Terminator, the reality is AI is not a threat and instead is providing businesses with a competitive edge. IDC predicts that global AI spending will increase from $8 billion in 2016 to $47 billion in 2020. And in the South East Asian market alone, AI is predicted to unlock economic value of up to $3 trillion a year by 2030 (IDC).
The increasing adoption of AI also spells good news for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It’s no longer, as Rupert Murdoch once put it, about big beating small. It’s about the fast beating the slow. In the guises of machine learning, bots and other intelligent forms of automation, AI provides a spectrum of services such as easing data processing, presenting users with decisions, and educating a ‘machine’ to act on those decisions.
Many of those advanced technologies used to be exclusive to larger companies, but AI is leveling the playing field. In fact, SMEs are often in a better position than large corporations when it comes to taking advantage of some of the ways AI will reshape the business as they are not constrained by sunken infrastructure costs. This provides them with completely new ways to grow, scale and adapt their business to the ever-changing market needs.
The following are five significant ways that AI can help companies enhance their operations to better compete in the intelligent world:
1. Intelligent Analysis. Instead of the rear-view perspective that business intelligence historically provides, AI analyzes large amounts of data to recommend decisions, or, in the case of machine learning, actually act on the data. With AI, anomalies and trends that affect business can be identified in real time.
SMEs are often in a better position than large corporations when it comes to taking advantage of some of the ways AI will reshape the business as they are not constrained by sunken infrastructure costs
For example, a projected delay in a purchase order for a cheap raw material will affect the on-time delivery of high-value orders in a months’ time and have a ripple effect. It will cause customer satisfaction issues, which in turn cause payment delays, credits, increased discounts, lower repeat orders, and impact revenue six months later. Knowing about the issue immediately will allow the buyer to find a replacement rather than accept a short delay in delivery, avoiding the revenue impact in the future.
2. Intelligent Interaction. Applications can have hundreds of rigid, role-based dashboards that are delivered out of the box. These are based on years of experience from multiple industries. In the future, the intelligent interaction will dynamically construct dashboards based on what it thinks the user needs to see based on current activities and the behavior of thousands of similar roles. We are also now seeing the emergence of intelligent voice-activated solutions. The intelligence here is taking unstructured instructions and determining what the user means, then ensuring the right information is delivered back.
3. Intelligent Automation: Enterprise solutions can have very powerful workflow engines that allow companies to change and automate business processes without writing code. New intelligent systems will learn, suggest and automate processes based on learning business patterns and behaviors. For example, the machine can automatically place holds on customers based on payment and ordering behaviors.
Even though AI is a powerful enabling technology, its value can only be realized if it has the right foundation. Companies with unified applications in the cloud are better positioned to reap the benefits of AI as opposed to those with data sets sprawled across different data marts and hidden in spreadsheets.
Ultimately, the success of AI depends on the quality of the data, which has become the lifeblood of the enterprise in today’s increasingly digital world. Organizations that leverage intelligent technologies to harness data will, therefore, be well placed to outmaneuver their competition, reduce waste, and grow revenue and profits.