While many people assume that artificial intelligence is something we’ll be seeing well into the future, the truth is, many businesses are already using AI, and are successfully implementing business transformation strategies, connecting with their customers, and scaling faster than ever before. The problem? Most of these businesses are located overseas.

A recent survey by Vanson Vourne, (commissioned by Infosys) polled business leaders across Australia, the United States, France, Germany, China, the UK, and India with at least US$500m in annual revenue and more than 1,000 staff. Of the 1,600 business leaders surveyed, Australian businesses only invested an average of $7.9m in artificial intelligence last year, and placed last in plans for AI integration and the skills required to implement AI.

Andrew Growth, Infosys regional head, says that the results of the survey show that Australia is risking becoming uncompetitive. “…All companies adopting AI are seeing advantages,” Mr Groth said, and pointed out that the challenge is with the skills situation, as the survey found almost a quarter (23%) of business leaders in Australia believe that their company is completely lacking in the skills needed in order to capitalise on AI.

That’s good news for Australian businesses planning to use AI to its full potential, and a great way for business owners to differentiate their business from their competitors.

Here are 3 ways businesses are using artificial intelligence:

1. Virtual Assistance
If you’ve ever used Siri, you’ve already played with AI. Speaking into your phone and being supplied with directions, information, and advice is something that seemed like science fiction just ten years ago, and now it’s commonplace. Many companies are using chatbots, which (when deployed correctly), can help during a spike in demand for a response from customer service, such as when flights are delayed. The AI service can then be used for simple questions, such as which flights are available, when the plane is scheduled to arrive, and more.

The Hello Barbie chatbot is allowing girls to talk to their favourite doll, while Lionsgate used a chatbot app for marketing Now You See Me 2. Virtual assistants and chatbots are fundamentally shifting the way people are interacting with technology, and it’s estimated that by 2020, AI bots will be powering 85% of all customer service interactions. In fact, by 2018 many of the digital assistants in use will be able to effectively mimic human conversations, making it feel like you’re talking to a real person.

2. Insight Generation
The same data that used to be trapped in databases or filing cabinets is now becoming a commodity that can be transformed into valuable insights. Machine learning allows systems to take in billions of data points, analyse them, learn from them, and improve over time.

A great example is the team at Publicis.Sapient, which has built a system predicting customer’s demands for mortgages based on some specific life events and market-related factors. One of the things that makes AI so powerful, is that unlike typical, statistical approaches, bots can learn and adapt when customer and market behaviour changes, continually improving performance when more data comes in.

3. Manual Process Automation
One of the constants we’ve seen as technology continues to rise is the automation of work. First, we saw home appliances and tractors debut as labour saving machines, and next we had basic systems and industrial machines. Now, we have advanced robots working alongside people in factories.

AI is beginning to automate routine cognitive processes, dividing routine and non-routine work. Junior lawyers are now being replaced by algorithms, and routine journalistic tasks like summarising financial reports and box scores are being completed by companies such as Narrative Science, with these technologies able to work 24 hours a day.

While jobs are getting replaced by AI, this doesn’t necessarily mean that humans are being made redundant. Instead, people are usually distributed throughout their companies in new positions and used for more important tasks.
Perth’s Fiona Stanly hospital is an excellent example of this. Last year the hospital purchased an automated pharmaceutical ordering system. The system uses robots which store, move, and scan $200,000 worth of hospital drugs each day, and the nurses previously responsible for these time-consuming tasks were freed up for patient care instead of looking after stock.

We’re living in an exciting time, and there’s little doubt that AI will be a huge benefit to humankind and a big change to how we do business. If you’re unsure how to implement an AI strategy, get in touch today and learn how we can help.