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3 purposeful and profitable ways to think about AI

A decade ago, artificial intelligence was little more than a Hollywood idea popularised (and demonised) only in movies, but the concept of using machines to solve business problems is fast becoming a reality. As such, it came as no surprise that discussions around AI littered around most conferences today.

With the dizzying hype, it’s difficult to make sense of AI and truly understand the difference it can make to business. Many still view AI as a Pandora’s Box.

Drew Perez, managing director of Adatos, a company at the frontier of using AI for enterprise applications said during a recent conference that the fear plaguing some western tech thinkers is: “What if a machine consumed the fruit of knowledge, discerned the difference between good and evil and made decisions from it, irreversibly replacing humans?”

The reality is AI, is constantly evolving, and instead of holding onto perceptions of us (humans) vs them (machines) dichotomy, adopting a view that man and machine having a symbiotic relationship can make the benefits more tangible and the consequences a little less biblical. Here are three more purposeful and profitable ways to think about AI.

AI can solve problems, so businesses can focus on determining the problems worth solving:

AI is as good or better than humans at making simple decisions – like the latest AI update to Google Assistant that makes calls and restaurant reservations. But finding customer pain-points or business opportunities remains the realm of flesh-and-blood decision makers.

Take Nvidia’s example. The global hardware company saw the opportunity to pivot the AI technology within its gaming chip to serve enterprises, enhancing its deep learning capabilities to self-learn and reduce enterprise’s overall cost in the process.

“Today we have more software engineers than hardware engineers,” said Ettikan Kandasamy Karuppiah, director of developers’ ecosystem, SEA Region. Nvidia is now powering thousands of AI start-ups worldwide, all building on the company’s chips in service critical applications like trading apps, retail apps and drone navigation interfaces.

AI can improve productivity, so businesses can focus on people and purpose:

SalesForce realised its human resources department was engaged in repetitive processes in customer service data processing, wasting hours, demotivating talent and impacting staff retention. Today they’re building a smart algorithm that can process the complexity and context of natural language, as well as self-learning so it doesn’t need to be re-programmed.

This leaves decision-makers free to focus on SalesForce’s core business, helping enterprises make strategic decisions that are more long term and complex.

AI can build customer trust, so businesses can scale sustainably

Having the right response today in customer service is as important as one that is timely, predictable and actionable – the key elements in building trust with customers over time. Using a chatbot, for example, to make these responses is then not seen as a fad but a crucial business imperative to enhance consumer trust, which is the universal equity for any business to scale anywhere in the world.

For The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury Las Vegas strip hotel & resort, R/GA created Rose – a chatbot concierge handling everything from guest queries to booking experiences such as restaurant reservations, spa treatments, event tickets, and self-guided art tours. Not only was there consistent usage, it led to a 39% increase in revenue directly from the bot during the month of launch.

AI needn’t conjure your darkest fears. Its potential in decreasing cost and/or increasing profits while building a motivated workforce is a reality for SMBs through to global brands, and this holistic impact is a call for all decision makers to be involved in using it to build more fulfilling, purpose-driven organisations.

The writer is Josh Kwah, group strategy director, R/GA Singapore.

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