AI Will Improve Your Business and the Lives of Your Team Members
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Adoption of AI technology is rising and changing the way organizations operate and serve customers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting, if not challenging technologies to enter the remit of CXOs in recent years. Although there are some ethical challenges for organizations and society; CXOs are discovering that AI can create a better business with a more personal service to customers and that is more interesting for its employees.
IDC analyst Neil Ward-Dutton noted that, “AI is a collection of tools and technologies that can be harnessed for use within the organization. Most European CXOs expect a return on investment within 24 months,” and his research finds that “on the whole these expectations are being met.”
Author and advisor on AI Andrew Burgess agrees, “the reality is somewhere in the middle, it is some clever mathematics that can benefit your business.” As with any technological development, Burgess says all organizations need to forget the hype and ask themselves, “what are the business objectives, and can AI help solve them?” Burgess disagrees with Ward-Dutton on the meeting of expectations, he thinks “the hype can lead to misunderstanding and excessive expectations and unnecessary fears.”
Driving AI adoption in organizations starts with embracing cloud computing from cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azureand the AI tools that are associated with them.
“Cloud providers will dominate as they can reduce cost and waste across the business,” Ward-Dutton says, he adds that the simple configuration of the AI tools from cloud providers will give them a distinct advantage. “Some can be configured once, but others need lots of learning,” he says of the need for organizations to be aware of the different levels of AI.
"Driving AI adoption in organizations starts with embracing cloud computing from cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure and the AI tools that are associated with them."
“By understanding the customer better, we will be able to develop a new set of services that will help retain them and attract more,” says Yves Le Gelard, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with ENGIE an energy and utilities company with 21 million customers throughout Europe. The CDO, like many of his peersin retail, financial services, tourism and the media plans to use AI tools to understand the mass of data the organization has about its customers and to create unique, “personalized” services for each and every customer. The energy and utility sector is undergoing significant deregulation in many national markets, so there is rising competition for energy customers. This competition is empowering CXOs in the energy and utilities sector to adopt AI to ensure that organizations can retain customers and grow revenue sources.
“A lot can be done to provide a better and more personalized experience, in particular to improve the conversion of a potential purchase," says Marion Mesnage, Head of Research, Innovation and Ventures at Amadeus IT Group, a technology provider to the travel industry. The travel sector has seen a cruiseliner worth of new entrants come into the market. This has led to a major change in the behavior of the customer. As a result, travel and tourism businesses are working closely with technology providers to adopt the cloud and AI. Using these technologies enables the travel operators to understand the customer and offer a personalized service, which can be enough to convert a lead into a sale.
Not only is Mesnage helping the travel sector increase sales using AI, the innovation leader is seeing that sector adopt AI for the improvement of its business models and to reduce the risk to the travelers they serve in these fraught political times.
“Organizations are using AI to reduce risk for their travelers, so risk data from a variety of sources can be added to the risk modelling data the traveler operates,” she says. Adding that this can have an impact on insurance and a range of other travel related services.
Improving the customer experience for travelers, or home-owners heating a home will have major benefits for the staff of organizations. CXOs tasked with driving up the margin of a business or responding to online challengers can fail to realize that AI has the potential to improve the livelihoods of those that work for an organization. Improved working conditions is highly likely to improve the margin of a business.
“Robotic Process Automation, chatbots and recommendation engines are not cutting edge and that’s okay, they are good for business,” adds Ward-Dutton. In his research, Ward-Dutton finds that across Europe organizations are using AI to “counter skills and resource issues” in their organizations. A number of leading economies are experiencing record low levels of productivity and some industry observers have put this down to existing teams being overstretched, leading to lower moral and therefore poorer productivity. Global recruitment organization Alexander Mann Solutions and UK based bakery Hovis use AI to streamline administrative processes and free up team members’ time.
IDC’s research also indicates that 50% of its respondents are using AI for compliance. Organizations with low productivity or over extended workforces can quickly find themselves failing to meet the regulatory obligations a vertical market or geography demands.
Positive as these AI opportunities are for organizations, Alistair Maughan, a technology lawyer with the global law firm Morrison Foerster advises the CXO community to be very clear about what the moral guidelines of the organization is in terms of its usage of customer and employee data. The London based Legal Eagle also reminds CXOs to be very careful of the implications and relationships their organization has with major AI providers such as Google. The approach to data by technology pioneering companies can differ greatly to the view of data from a business traveler, electricity consumer or patient.
Author Ian McEwan sums up the predicament of the CXO team and society when it comes to AI, “We’re a long, long way from making an artificial human that is just as complicated and faulty and wonderful as we are, but we’re already on the edge of that vast ocean,” he says in an interview about his latest novel.