With applications across industries, from medicine to marketing to transportation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have progressed from tech buzzwords to key considerations for businesses as they make moves to secure their sustainability and position themselves as industry leaders. In fact, Forbes conducted a survey of more than 300 executives, and “95% believe that AI will play an important role in their responsibilities in the near-future.”
Consumers and end users have come to expect customized and personalized experiences everywhere in personal and professional spaces, from smart home devices and online shopping to workstations. Increased acceptance and positive response to such tailored experiences have driven innovators to rapidly advance the technology.
Latest in Emerging Technologies
In his recent article “AI Temperature Check: Where AI Is Winning and Losing” for Forbes.com, CEO of Lexalytics and member of the Forbes Technology Council Jeff Catlin explored The Bad and The Good of recent advancements in AI technology. Media has focused a lot on major leaps in technology that wouldn’t be widely implemented until far into the future, but incremental advances that have more immediate potential. For example, a hospital in London used deep learning by Google’s Deep Mind to assist in identifying more than 50 eye diseases and recommending treatment plans.
The same Google technology was also able predict the 3-D shapes of proteins, which has the potential to impact treatment for problems, disorders, and illnesses that arise from “misfolds.” The machinery of biology is built from proteins and it a protein’s shape defines its function. Understand[ing] how proteins fold up and researchers could usher in a new era of scientific and medical progress,” according Ian Sample in a Guardian article.
AI Is Transforming Operations
Businesses across industries are using the data that AI technology and machine learning use to create these custom experiences to a different end. By gaining insight into behavior trends and automating administrative processes that traditionally required manpower and time, companies can reallocate resources to more impactful and revenue-generating areas.
In Forbes’ survey to executives, the most-cited potential benefits of AI respondents listed were the following:
- Increased productivity (40%)
- Reduced operating costs (28%)
- Improved speed to market (21%)
- Transformed business and operating models (20%)
Traditionally, figuring out where to spend time and money to advance business was based on gut, intuition. With data behind these decisions, reallocation is now driven by what’s actually happening and therefore it’s become possible to accomplish more without overloading existing staff or recruiting new staff.
Customization Means Happier Customers
They are also using the data to learn more about their customers and use that new awareness to improve customer satisfaction. ““Companies are looking for ways to adopt technology to keep up with that level of increasing customer expectations,” says Mikhail Naumov, author of AI Is My Friend, in a Zendesk blog post called “Why AI Will Transform How Customer Service Teams Work.”
In the Amazon age, customers are accustomed to being able to track an order from processing through delivery, and these expectations bleed over into experiences with other industries as well. With automation and data insights, customers can get improved communication and faster, more effective responses, especially when things go wrong.
These kinds of changes mean companies will be able to focus on providing customers with more satisfying and deeper relationships with a brand rather than spending time on simply putting out fires. “AI won’t replace humans entirely; rather, it will enhance agents’ skills by taking over routine tasks like collecting and reporting information, letting agents handle customer interactions requiring deeper insight and analysis,” says Kate Leggett in the report from Forrester, How AI Will Transform Customer Service.
The Security Challenge
The cogs at work behind emerging technologies like AI and machine learning are millions of data points. With the collection and storage of data, however, comes the rising challenge of data and network security.
In Radware’s report The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum, respondents to a survey reported just how much ensuring security was a priority. “Eighty-six percent of businesses explored machine-learning and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in the past 12 months. Almost half said that quicker response times to cyberattacks were the motivation.”
Some nefarious ways to use AI technology against business include the following, according to Ensighten, a global leader in data privacy:
- Automate attacks and improve evasion capabilities against detection systems
- Increase the scale and reach of the threats
- Improve current digital attack tools to make them more harmful and difficult to detect
- Automatically breach defences and generate more sophisticated phishing attacks from information scraped from websites
With attacks launching at an astounding rate of roughly four per second, AI can actually play a significant role in optimizing the resources to stop these attacks, much like how it is improving efficiency in other business operations. “Instead, artificial intelligence — and especially deep learning — seems capable of preventing attacks with a speed and predictive quality that is faster than the rate at which attacks are being launched,” says Saumitra Das of the Forbes Councils in his post “Demystifying AI’s Role In Our Future.”
The Opportunity in ICT and Emerging Tech
With so much of business operations happening in the Cloud, the demand for infrastructure improvements to the performance of communications and e-commerce, for example, mean extensive opportunity for professionals in ICT and emerging technologies.
“Emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, and blockchain will continue to influence the IT industry into 2022. While growth in expenditures on traditional technologies (hardware, software, services, and telecom) is expected to largely mimic the single-digit GDP growth over this period, growth in advanced technologies is anticipated to be much more prolific, stretching into the double digits and commanding an increasingly greater share of total IT spending,” according to the Brookings Institution report Trends in the Information Technology Sector.
There is also opportunity in security with AI. Ensigthen explains, “AI is increasingly present in devices, applications and services throughout any organization with a digital offering. But nowhere has AI’s potential for disruption been more evident than in cybersecurity, with the technology quickly gaining traction within enterprise businesses – particularly around automated threat prevention, detection and response.”
Innovations are developing at a rapid pace, and professionals who can help businesses understand, plan, implement, and manage the changes these innovations bring offer immeasurable value.