Love it or hate it, Artificial Intelligence is definitely here to stay. It may not be the final piece in the digital jig saw – who knows what great new innovation will emerge next, that’s the nature of our agile new society – but it might be the latest and most liberating to date. In fact, in many ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the digital component that makes sense of all the others. So what are the benefits of Artificial Intelligence?

Better, faster, cheaper

While 70% of transformations fail, organisations that are delivering the digital promise are reaping rewards.  A digital business is far more efficient than a traditional concern could ever be. This enables them to score in three key areas – better solutions, faster service and lower prices. No traditional business can compete.

One of the ways technology contributes to this advantage is by enabling massively improved customer insight. With many transactions these days being totally disintermediated the ability for programmes to capture all manner of data is mind-boggling. However, there’s so much data sloshing around in most businesses these days that many find themselves drinking from a fire hose.

If you still doubt the benefits of artificial intelligence consider this. In a 2016 survey by Oracle 93% of business executives told us they believed their inability to act on the customer data they collected caused them to lose an average 14% revenue. Furthermore, last year IBM Watson revealed the management of digital platforms accounted for as much as 55% of employee time, which, kind of, defeats the digital objective. AI can handle all this and more.

The liberating powers of AI

The target for every on-line sales organisation is, of course, the Single Customer View (SCV) or “the segment of one”. This translates as individually customised service and/or products. Many businesses are getting there, but if you want to join them you need a thought-through digital data management strategy. That’s where many transformation projects go wrong. The collection, management and analysis of data needs to be viewed as a single, continuous process. With the volume of data on-line businesses generate it’s unrealistic to expect them to be sifting through it manually, which is where AI comes into play.

Planning AI in

Artificial Intelligence is able to manage ever more complex issues without manual intervention. However, it has to feature in the planning of your initial intelligence-gathering programme to deliver as it should. A thought-through digital strategy leverages the power of AI to analyse and act upon the data it collects. This liberatres the organisation from the burden of platform management and much of the data analysis.

Nothing is perfect … yet!

The up-scale digital infrastructure of on-line retailers, for example, already relies heavily on AI. They employ AI to manage maintenance, routine functions and even programme editing.

AI learns from experience. Observing repeating patterns and modifying processes in response, so it’s becoming ever-more useful, but on occasion, it can be over-zealous as Amazon discovered recently. Their AI detected their recruiters were declining applications that appeared sexists and started automatically de-selecting applications that included the word “women” as in “women’s football team”. It just goes to show that while we are making great advances in artificial intelligence it still requires a touch of old-fashioned real common sense!

Phil Darby
February 12, 2019

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