AI isn’t just for chatbots and movie recommendations — according to recent survey data, 64% of companies believe that artificial intelligence will increase their overall productivity. From streamlining current processes to creating new operational approaches, AI tools are on track to reshape the future of business.
But intelligence isn’t fire-and-forget. To make the most of artificial intelligence tools, organizations need to understand the relationship of AI to current processes, recognize its impact on operations, and ensure they’re effectively embracing AI-driven frameworks.
AI, ML, and the New Business Landscape
Often used interchangeably, artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) are similar, but not identical, facets of AI function.
Put simply, ML algorithms are designed to learn. This learning may be supervised or unsupervised. In a supervised approach, staff specify what datasets the algorithms use and provide rulesets for them to follow. Unsupervised learning, meanwhile, allows more freedom for ML modes to discover connections on their own.
AI tools combine multiple ML algorithms to provide a specific function. Consider a website chatbot designed to answer user questions. The chatbot itself is an AI application with a specific purpose: Helping visitors. Powering this tool are ML algorithms. Some are built to recognize and interpret user queries, others are designed to seek out specific data, and still others provide human-like responses to user questions.
Not surprisingly, the changing business landscape has led to concerns around function replacement and job loss. Research notes, however, that while AI may replace more than 80 million jobs by 2025, it will also create over 95 million new positions, making it a net gain for staff.
The Impact of AI on Operations
AI’s impact on operations is primarily seen in two areas: scale and scope.
Artificial intelligence tools are designed to ingest and interpret massive data volumes across multiple data sets. Given the exponential growth of data, AI makes it possible for companies to keep pace with the increasing scale of actionable insights.
AI can also help businesses handle the growing scope of data by automating essential tasks and processes. For example, AI tools excel at error-free data collection and correlation, something that even highly skilled teams struggle with given the diversity of data now available.
Three Ways to Embrace AI
AI offers a way to future-proof business operations. Yet, this advantage isn’t automatic — businesses must effectively implement AI applications to see significant benefits. In practice, three approaches to AI adoption can help streamline the process:
- Make a plan:
The rapid growth of AI has led to a sudden influx of tools and technologies that offer broad and specific benefits. The sheer number and type of these tools, however, can lead businesses to overspend on features they don’t need or underspend as they wait for a clearer indication of what applications best fit their needs.
In both cases, a plan helps solve the problem. By defining a specific use case for AI, such as measuring consumer sentiment or analyzing market trends, businesses can connect the dots between impact and outcome.
- Ask for feedback
In many cases, AI implementation can lead to process and policy changes, which in turn impacts the way staff members do their jobs. By getting employee feedback about the potential impact of AI before implementation takes place, companies can reduce the risk of staff pushback when new tools are deployed.
- Get a second opinion
As noted above, AI will likely create more jobs than it eliminates. Why? Because no matter how smart these tools get, it’s critical to keep a human in the loop. A human employee serves as a second opinion on AI output, which can help companies avoid embarrassing, unintentional errors that stem from the fact that while AI tools offer insight, they’re not replacements for human intelligence.
Shape Up or Ship Out
Emerging AI tools offer a competitive advantage, especially when integrated with as part of a comprehensive IT infrastructure solution. Evolving use cases, meanwhile, suggest that artificial intelligence will soon underpin business operations at scale.
In other words, AI is shaping the future of business — a future that automates data-intensive tasks and handles massive data volumes, while still keeping humans in the loop.
AUTHOR BIO: Jody Jankovsky is the founder and CEO of Black Line IT, serving over 500 clients in 30 years and earning spots on Inc. 5,000’s Fastest Growing Companies list twice. Recognized in the Chicago Tribune, renowned brands rely on his tech expertise. Jankovsky is also a key speaker on technology, cybersecurity and business software.