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From smart homes to intelligent gaming, automated banking to self-driven cars, artificial intelligence (AI) is definitely here to stay and advancing at a rapid rate. With all of these technological advancements attempting to make both our work and home lives easier, where do humans and the businesses they own and operate fit into it all?
I’ve been involved and interested in the intersection of AI and business for over 10 years, being first introduced to these concepts when I worked in management consulting. As we continue to see advances in this space, many have begun to wonder: How do these advances specifically affect business leaders and how will this technology shape the way they do business?
Many are concerned that advances like these could result in their business or their workers becoming obsolete, especially in response to the pandemic, but it only takes a quick look at a few disastrous results to see that a move to machine learning (ML) and AI still requires human knowledge and skill. Take Uber’s self-driving cars, which tragically killed a pedestrian, or IBM’s Watson supercomputer, which recommended unsafe cancer treatments that made doctors gasp. You really only need to look as far as a dating site matching up potential mates based solely on an algorithm to understand how AI can fall short in an emotionally driven human world.
No matter how advanced AI and ML become, skilled and knowledgeable humans will remain irreplaceable across many sectors as well as an integral part of managing the flow and assuring the quality of the data and information being fed into these systems.
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How Businesses Can Utilize AI And ML
As we can clearly see, AI and ML will likely not force you or your business out of work anytime soon. In fact, your business can likely use these advances to your advantage in several ways.
1. Reduce mundane tasks. One of the best uses for AI/ML is to significantly reduce mindless and repetitive tasks traditionally done by humans. This shift often has the added bonus of boosting productivity. It is also extremely helpful in improving standard business processes, streamlining strategic output and removing the guesswork from the decision-making process. When used in leadership or managerial roles, AI/ML helps speed up the processes that can save you time and money.
2. Improve customer service. Business leaders can leverage AI/ML in their individual businesses by implementing a chatbox on the company’s website to answer common questions, improving customer service interactions. Customers are able to quickly receive the answers to their questions without distracting your team from more important tasks. Additionally, AI is very useful in collecting data on every customer interaction and turning that data into actionable steps that can prove profitable.
3. Increase substantial leads. One way to use the data collected from AI includes screening all customer interactions in order to pursue solid leads. Not only does your team have more time for these tasks with AI handling the mindless and repetitive tasks, such as answering FAQs on the website, but this process also leads to closing more deals since you are now only dealing with serious customers.
Challenges Of Implementing AI And ML
Of course, as with anything, there are challenges, and as you begin using these technologies, the way you run your business will change. One of the biggest challenges that business leaders face when implementing AI/ML is bad data. Anything done by the use of AI is based on data. If the data is wrong or insufficient in some way, the results will be only as good as the data the AI is running on. Also, training staff to efficiently work with AI may present a learning curve as well as navigating the fears that their jobs are being phased out.
The human brain’s ability to use logic, reasoning, understanding, learning and experience is what makes human intelligence different from AI. Machines may be able to mimic human behavior to a limited extent, but their knowledge often falls short, especially when it comes to things such as common sense, understanding cause and effect or making ethical decisions. The more AI becomes integrated into businesses and everyday life, the more humans will be needed to oversee the data, what is being fed into the programs and to add knowledgeable insights into the process.
You can overcome these challenges by making sure you have plenty of human input from the start to ensure any AI you choose to use is running off of the best data sets. Keep in mind that even the best AI tends to struggle with attaining the level of people skills needed to be a good leader in business. So, while programmed machine processes will definitely boost business when they have the right data, there will still be the need for a human business leader to remain in charge.
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