The power and promise of AI in the coming year and beyond

In 2018, I posited that artificial intelligence (AI) would become widespread, seeping into our everyday lives. Now, in 2019, we’re starting to see this become reality.

Until recently, AI was the domain of large tech companies that employed machine learning to increase efficiency and scale at the back-end. Now, we see more and more business leaders joining the conversation around AI, even if they aren’t yet using it within their own businesses. Companies now realise the benefits of using AI and are seeking to incorporate AI technologies into their mainstream industries.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a company that isn’t at least working on one AI project. As the ability of AI becomes ever closer to that of human employees, it’s interesting to consider what might come next. So far, we’ve seen significant growth in AI around customer support, and that’s likely to intensify this year. In fact, Forbes says that by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will take place without a human agent—and most of us are already using these services without realising it. Whether you’re tracking a package, making a reservation for an upcoming holiday, or refilling your prescription, chances are that you have spoken to a robot within the last year.

AI and the Customer

Customers generally will seek to use their preferred channels, be it mobile messaging, Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail to engage with brands. This means that companies must use these channels as part of their customer service.

AI advancements are also happening rapidly in the area of sales productivity. Over the past year, the level at which businesses are utilising AI to grow their business has skyrocketed. It’s become standard for companies to use AI to improve predictive business software and to make more effective decisions. Using heavy duty machine learning analytics as a standard business practice is now widely accepted.

Looking even farther down the road, there are those who believe that computers will be just as smart as humans in about two decades. I personally love reading about the subject of singularity and quantum computing. It’s fascinating to hear about its potential. Naturally, one could argue that humans might not want computing to become as smart as us.  We’ve all watched movies centered-around apocalyptic devastation! But, in my opinion, AI stands to improve our lives in ways that we have yet to consider, especially at home.

While AI is becoming commonplace in customer service and sales, we are a long way from having a robot cooking us dinner or cleaning our apartments. Nevertheless, if we buy into the idea that robots will do this for us one day, what else can we anticipate? gardening robots? machines delivering food to isolated parts of the world? The possibilities are endless!

However, before we see a world in which robots are making our beds, AI must become even more embedded into businesses. The technology is capable of some incredible things. For example, AI has predicted pneumonia better than radiologists at Stanford. Yet, we have been reluctant to trust AI and slow to adapt it. AI companies must invest in stronger algorithms, both to prove their own worth and to become widespread to everyday consumers. Businesses need to start investing in this technology now in order to be part of the AI generation. The technology is not only here to stay but is set to drastically transform both business and consumer landscapes in the immediate future.

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