Most digital transformations do not realise nearly as much value as predicted....
Artificial Intelligence is conversation currently invading every board room. Budget meetings and strategy sessions are having their agendas dominated by AI. People at every level, from business leaders to front line team members are thinking about how AI will impact them. And for those who aren’t talking about it? Well, there’s a pretty good chance you’re missing a trick.
But part of the problem with the AI conversation is that it’s plagued by hype, half-truths, and myths. Push past that, and you’ll find a technical revolution in the waiting, ready to reshape industries, inspire new forms of business, and explode customer expectations right across the globe. If we can deal with elements of fear and the untruths following AI around, there are more opportunities than we could ever imagine.
AI has already landed in our lives in a way that is more pervasive than you possibly realise. From the last thing you listened to on Spotify, to your conversation with Alexa, to your neatly filtered email inbox, to the sandwich you just bought for your lunch, AI has already impacted your life. It analyses your music preferences to add new songs to your playlist. It recognises and responds to your voice. It identifies language that is and isn’t associated with spam. It tracks stock levels to ensure the right things are on the shelves at the right time.
But what does all this mean to you? What impact is it having on you and your bottom line? Let’s get into it – the definitions, the jargon, the applications, the implications, and the key skills.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think, learn and perform tasks. Things like problem solving, decision making, understanding, analysing and translating language. It’s different from traditional computer programmes because AI isn’t static. It adapts and improves its performance over time, without needing to be explicitly programmed for every task. It learns. It becomes more accurate with practice. Which is why we refer to it as “intelligence”.
Types of AI
There are a myriad of ways we can talk about AI and group the different aspects of it, but AI can broadly be organised into three main types:
- Narrow AI (Weak AI):
which is designed for specific tasks and operates under a limited, pre-defined set of circumstances. AI virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, chatbots, and facial recognition systems are examples of Narrow AI (sometimes known as Weak AI).
- General AI (Strong AI):
which possesses human-like cognitive abilities and can understand, learn, and adapt across a wide range of tasks, even if it’s never encountered them before. AGI hasn’t been fully realised yet, and it remains a goal for the future, but there are growing capabilities within narrow AI that look promising.
- Artificial Superintelligence:
a hypothetical form of AI that would surpass human intelligence in all aspects, potentially leading to unprecedented advances or challenges. There’s considerable dispute over the possibility of this ever coming to fruition, and, as yet, is mostly a theory explored in science fiction.
Explaining AI Terms and Jargon
There is so much jargon swirling around the topic of AI that it’s easy to get confused. Here are some of the main terms you might hear in relation to AI:
AI Applications for Businesses
Now we’ve given you an overview of the most common types of AI, we’ll look the ways AI can impact businesses. There’s far more to its ability that just automating routine tasks. Used properly, AI is a strategic asset with far reaching benefits for almost every area of your business.
- Revenue Growth
There are new revenue opportunities to be found through AI’s ability to analyse massive amounts of customer data and current market trends. Personalising marketing strategies and jumping on trends (or even predicting trends), enhances customer engagement and drives sales.
Obvious examples of this include AI powered recommendation systems – like those used by Amazon or Netflix – that analyse preference via historical choices and use it to increase cross selling and upselling.
- Cost and Production Efficiency
AI streamlines operations by automating repetitive tasks and optimising resource allocation. For example, predictive maintenance identifies when equipment will need to be serviced before an issue becomes critical. This reduces downtime and saves substantial maintenance costs by pre-empting problems and solving them before they arise.
- Improving Customer Satisfaction
Customer expectation has shifted and as a result, the expected levels of customer service are higher than ever. AI driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide real time support that eliminate waiting times and remove the routine queries from the queue, freeing up human customer service agents to focus on more complex issues.
- Connecting Disparate Systems and Knowledge
Businesses often have data scattered across different systems and departments, in different formats, with nothing connecting them. To give meaningful insights data needs to be organised, formatted, and accessible. AI can unify your disparate data points, extract useful insights, and provide a comprehensive view of operations, leading to better decision making and strategic planning.
- Computer vision in retail
Computer vision is enabling retail to remove all friction from its in-person shopping experiences. Cashier-less stores are already being trialled successfully, where customers pick their items and leave as AI tracks their selections. AI also makes inventory management easier and more efficient, tracking stock levels and detecting shelf gaps. Its insights can ensure that orders are placed at the right time and for the right amount, and shelves are kept continuously stocked.
- Fraud detection and prevention
Banking has already benefitted a huge amount from AI fraud detection systems that analyse transactions and patterns of spend to identify potentially fraudulent activity. This type of AI is now widely used across financial institutions and e-commerce to protect both assets and data.
AI is making waves in the healthcare space, analysing patient data, test results and medical imaging to assist in early detection of disease, and personalised medication plans. It’s also being used to speed up and enhance the discovery of treatment methods and pharmaceuticals.
Key Skills for Implementing AI
Implementing AI into a business requires high performing team members with the key skills that support a digital and AI driven organisation. There are particular skills that are highly advantageous to develop and cultivate within your organisation.
Why AI is a Hot Topic
AI has undeniably become a hot topic in 2023, gaining widespread attention and creating a buzz across various industries. Why? Well, between rapid technological advancements, the pandemic, and the shift in consumer expectation, it has been the perfect storm for AI to develop.
Firstly, the rapid advancements in AI technology have played a significant role in raising its prominence. Over the past few years, there have been considerable breakthroughs in the field of AI, including natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning algorithms. These advancements have made AI more accessible, reliable, and efficient, leading to its integration into various aspects of our daily lives. From virtual assistants and autonomous vehicles to personalised recommendations and medical diagnosis, AI has shown its potential to impact industries and improve human experiences.
Another factor contributing to the sudden surge in AI development is the global pandemic. The COVID crisis highlighted the urgent need for advanced technologies to address healthcare challenges, economic disruptions, and social distancing measures. AI proved its value throughout the pandemic, analysing vast amounts of data to track the virus's spread, predicting infection rates, and even assisting in the development of vaccines. The pandemic also accelerated the adoption and acceptance of AI solutions, making it a crucial tool for mitigating future crises and improving preparedness, as well as helping organisations to continue to operate remotely.
Moreover, the overflow of consumer expectation has made AI a necessity for business. The expectation overflow is the term used to describe the shift that has taken place in customers’ value judgements, or the hoops you need to jump through to please your customers. Advancements in technology have enabled larger players to offer a greater level of service and/or experience to their customers. As customers become used to this, they no longer place value in it. Instead, they come to expect it as normal practice. Think, for example, of Amazon Prime’s next day delivery. Rather than this being seen as a valuable addition by consumers a positive value judgement, the lack of it is seen as a shortcoming – a negative value judgement.
Overall, the combination of technological advancements, the impact of the pandemic, and the expectation overflow has catapulted AI to the forefront of public consciousness in 2023. As AI continues to evolve and integrate into our lives, it will be crucial to ensure responsible development, address ethical concerns, and leverage this transformative technology to address the challenges we face and create a better future.
AI is more than just a technological trend – it’s a strategic imperative for businesses looking to thrive in the digital age. Understanding the types of AI, its applications, the key skills needed for success and the reasons for its sudden prominence will help business leaders to unlock its potential to drive new streams of revenue and faster growth. Jumping on it now will give leaders the chance to shape the conversation and be ahead of the curve. But make no mistake, embracing AI is no longer an option – it will increasingly become a necessity for remaining competitive and resilient in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.
If you’re looking to continue your AI journey with clarity and purpose, get in touch to find out how Northell can help.
Highly motivated senior marketing and production executive with broad experience. Partnering with various sized companies including several of the animation industry’s most critically acclaimed film studios, to understand and set strategic goals and then find effective and innovative ways to achieve those goals.
With work experience ranging from social media content production to consumer product development; from feature film deliveries to tv spots, trailers and featurettes; from understanding new technologies, how they work and developing new systems with in house with technology teams to developing tie-in partnerships and mobile and online game development; live and virtual event planning to joint company/partner presentations; and from CRM creation, setting strategic goals and strategies, to data and insights analysis. Ensuring all deliveries are creatively on point with company brands or style guides. Simultaneously working to develop the in house talent to grow and offer more options and solutions for the company and be a leader in creative solutions.