In the second part of our guide to emerging technologies, we’re going to move on from virtual reality and take a look at artificial intelligence.
How will it impact the world of business in future? And how is it already changing the way we work?
Let’s take a look:
It will slowly change customer service roles
One of the primary duties of AI is to eventually take the most menial work away. To take care of the basic jobs so more resources can be put towards work that matters.
AI can automate a wide number of processes, from customer service calls to processing insurance claims.
The principle is much the same as the way technology has been used to build automatic checkouts at supermarkets, except with AI, computers will eventually be able to hire a higher level of customer query: to ask questions and respond accordingly to the answers.
For bigger companies customer service departments represent a big expense – often requiring whole buildings full of people – and AI will likely reduce those costs, allowing people to take on more fulfilling roles.
Any other general administration roles – such as receptionists, administration assistants and even office managers – could be affected too.
It will continue to affect construction and manual labor work
Just as technology has already altered the world of white collar customer service, it will continue to change how manual labor work is performed.
In some cases, robotics have already affected a lot of industries, with a great deal of manufacturing now carried out through automation.
The more advanced AI becomes, the more complex the tasks it will be able to handle and the less need there will be for a human presence.
Robots have been working in the automotive industry for years, for example, but how long before they’re capable of building houses?
Increased human roles in the robotics industry
By reading the above two points, the future can seem bleak for human employees. However, one industry will begin to take on thousands more employees: the AI market!
The more robotics and AI become commonplace, the more job roles will open up in that particular market. People will be required to supervise, maintain and operate the machines, and to help create and monitor the software that controls them.
Businesses will become more mobile
In recent years, technology has led to an upheaval in how businesses function.
The idea of hot-desking and remote working has become more and more common, with businesses now a lot more flexible about how their employees work and from where.
AI will likely cause continued evolution in this area. The more technology improves, the more flexibility businesses will be able to offer. Indeed, it may be possible for AI platforms to be developed that are capable of managing the admin of employees working in multiple different locations.
For CEOs and other more senior staff members, managing the workforce as a whole will become less time consuming, and will allow more time for businesses to focus on deeper work: work that actually helps the business thrive.
Essentially, AI should drastically cut down the level of required busy work in any office.
Increased efficiency and accuracy
It’s an unfortunate fact that any business will suffer from human error: we all make mistakes.
In that sense, it’s almost certain that as AI develops, accuracy and efficiency will increase substantially in every industry where the technology is used.
This has already been seen in the automotive industry (as we mentioned earlier) but in future will likely also benefit office work.
For instance, AI will naturally be able to process and calculate data far faster than even the most skilled human, so any industry that relies on data – marketing, for instance – will be able to automate a lot of their research and data functions.
(There’s a reason that ‘big data’ has become more prevalent as an idea in recent years.)
More data staff will be required
It’s worth noting that, as in construction, the presence of AI will increase some job markets. In recent years, for instance, there has been a big increase in demand for ‘data mining’ – programmers capable of generating valuable insight for the company through analyzing the larger databases.
If you’re skilled enough to make sense of ‘big data’, and can use that information to help a business, the likelihood is you’ll be able to name your salary.
(Indeed, data mining and analysts were recently named as the most in-demand employees by a number of recruitment companies. It’s likely the trend will continue upwards.)
The security industry will evolve
As technology advances, so does the need for digital security.
Unfortunately, there will always be people that seek to make use of available tech for nefarious purposes.
As a result, cybersecurity will likely evolve, too, with AI playing a key part in helping to keep modern systems safe
Why? Because AI can be scripted to learn and see patterns within networks, devices and systems, and to detect any anomalies. As a result, AI could learn to forsee or detect attacks faster than people can.
Indeed, there are a number of start-ups out there already using AI software as part of their security protection services.
AI can help to consolidate business operations
When it comes to large-scale businesses especially, consolidating and integrating different departments can be tough. It can be hard to spot which changes could make a company more efficient.
AI technology, however, can be the difference. By integrating AI into modern enterprise resource planning solutions (ERP), businesses will be able to process data from different departments and analyze it to look for areas of potential improvement.
In short, AI could act in a similar role to management consultants: taking a birds-eye view of the business and helping to improve operations, cut costs and improve general efficiency.
Even if the upfront investment in this area of AI might be high, businesses will be happy to make the investment due to the potential for saving money in the long run.
Like virtual reality, the idea of AI in businesses isn’t something that ‘might’ happen. It already IS happening.
Here are some examples of how artificial intelligence is already being used by companies around the world:
Verv is billed as a smart home energy assistant: in real terms, it uses AI to provide real-time information to customers about their household appliances.
How does this benefit them? By providing more data at a faster rate than even the best smart meter, consumers are able to get insight into both their carbon footprints and their appliance use, meaning they can both reduce bills and do their bit for the environment.
What’s more, Verv’s AI is also able to provide recommendations to users looking to become more ‘green’.
If you’re a beer drinker, this is the company for you. IntelligentX boast a first-ever: the first beer ever brewed by AI!
Firstly, customers are given a sample of four different brews which they then provide feedback on via a Facebook messenger bot.
Once they’ve provided this information, AI algorithms process the data and make recommendations for changes to each brew, which is passed onto the brewers. As such, customers are able to have a quick, genuine impact on how their beer tastes!
We mentioned the importance of security early on, and Darktrace are at the forefront of the technology.
Based in the UK, Darktrace use AI algorithms to try and spot patterns of behavior in cyber criminal activity, so that any potential attacks can be stopped before they start.
Darktrace’s AI is capable of learning ‘normal’ network behavior, and as a result can spot anomalies quickly – far more quickly than human security specialists.
Essentially, Darktrace’s whole approach relies on AI.
Onfido are focused on security, but a slightly different area: identity and background checks.
Background checks for employees and other security purposes has always been tough, and susceptible to human error. Onfido’s aim is to make the whole process faster and more efficient.
By tapping into a number of publicly available databases, their AI algorithms can quickly present employers with a speedy confirmation of identity, as well as things like driving and criminal records.
Given the strong link between development and AI, it was inevitable that a company like Diffblue would come along.
Essentially, their role is to try and use AI to automate many of the minor tasks that developers and coders simply don’t like doing: running software tests, checking for bugs and rewriting bad or out of date code.
By building software capable of improving OTHER software, Diffblue are working towards streamlining the whole area of development.
A good example of the customer service evolution we mentioned earlier, Digital Genius are essentially a traditional contact center, but with a difference.
They make use of learning technology in order to assist their staff by sorting queries and answering the most basic and standard responses automatically, with the rarer, more complex problems being sent to a person to review.
By using AI, Digital Genius can cut handling times by 20 per cent or more, without the quality of customer service being affected.
In the world of online publishing, Echobox are leading the way. Indeed, they claim to have developed AI that ‘understands the meaning of content’.
With millions of new pages being published online every day, the idea of AI being able to ‘optimize post performance’ is huge.
Essentially, the AI optimizes content for social media without the content producers having to carry out the base work such as A/B testing, looking at analytics or curating content themselves
And it’s not just small bloggers using the technology: The Telegraph and Vice, both big names in the UK media, are already using Echobox’s AI.
Phrasee work in a similar area to Echobox, though their focus is more on specific word choice across different marketing channels rather than just the area of web content.
By using AI, Phrasee is able to simulate millions of potential permutations of copy in order to predict which particular phrase will work best judging by previous performance. The more information the AI receives from the writers, the more it learns and the better the predictions become.
In the cutthroat world of online marketing, it’s no surprise that Phrasee have received a lot of funding over the last couple of years.
It’s not just the web-based businesses benefitting from AI: Grip, based in London, are focusing on the benefits of AI in the world of real-life networking.
By using data from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and combining it with user registration data, the AI is able to create effective professional matchups for anyone visiting corporate events.
Users can then offer feedback on how successful the event was, and the AI can learn and improve based on this feedback.
Out of all the businesses we’ve covered here, Tractable may well be at the cutting edge of a cutting edge market!
Their mission is simple, in a sense: to try and automate tasks that many people simply don’t consider AI to be capable of performing.
They provide deep learning solutions in order to provide businesses with in depth visual analysis and language understanding designed to help interpret specialist data.
Essentially, their AI works almost as a data mining specialist, on automatic. Tractable certainly push the boundaries.
In the world of finance, Cleo is definitely at the forefront in terms of AI.
The idea is simple but brilliant: by using a messaging platform, Cleo is able to answer questions about your finances, and can provide real insight into your habits and preferences.
In a world where money is tight, the idea of having a personal advisor at the end of a phone, without having to pay consultancy rates, is a brilliant one.
If you’re interested in learning more about the world of AI, and how it could benefit YOUR business, please do get in touch today. We’d love to help you.