2017 saw business leaders taking an interest in the possibilities offered by cognitive computing
This year is shaping up to be transitional in IT, and experts are pointing to one technology in particular that’s expected to play a potentially revolutionary role: Artificial intelligence. Some areas where AI will have an impact are extensions of previous trends, but some new technologies stand to make previously unanticipated changes. Here are a few ways AI will shape 2018 for businesses.
Smarter Hardware and Software
As computer hardware and networking equipment become more complicated, software is catching up to ease the burden of managing it. Virtualization is the norm in many businesses, and AI is playing a valuable role in adopting new equipment in a seamless manner. Cloud-based operations often rely on provisioning virtual hardware in response to changing demand, and AI is at the core of making these decisions. IT employees in 2018 will spend even less time with discrete hardware and more time managing virtual environments due to AI.
Better Data Analysis
The Internet of Things is slated to continue tremendous levels of growth. However, data is only useful if it can be effectively analyzed, and the AI designed to make the most of the IoT is being developed and deployed at a rapid pace. Users will be able find suggestions hidden in the data that would otherwise be lost, and, when combined with automation, the IoT will cut back on labor costs. These advantages aren’t just for enterprise-level companies, and smaller businesses sometimes have even more to gain by combining the IoT with AI.
Also it might seem to be relatively minor for businesses, image recognition is a major source of human labor, as computers have previously been poor at analyzing images. However, advances throughout 2017 have shown the viability of machine learning for image recognition, and companies are poised to begin implementing this technology on a large scale. In addition to cutting back on labor costs, this technology can also help companies provide faster support for customers.
Virtual Customer Service
People are generally happy with online customer service interfaces, and some people prefer to avoid talking directly with human customer service representatives. However, automated customer service in the past has provided a cumbersome and limited experience. Bots designed to help customer with their problems have gained a bit of a presence already, and they’re expected to become significantly more powerful throughout 2018. As AI specific to companies’ needs becomes even more powerful, these bots will become even more prevalent.
Rise of Business Process Automation
Business process automation isn’t new, but 2018 looks to be a banner year for BPA. Automation, as always, remains a top goal for businesses as it cuts back on expenditures. BPA tools are becoming better at general tasks, making them applicable to a wider range of businesses. Furthermore, machine learning can enhance BPA significantly, leading to even wider adoption. Again, this technology can cut back on labor expenses by making individual employees more effective.
In business, having too much information is a luxury of a problem, but it can still be a bit of a problem. While AI will provide a wealth of useful and actionable data, it will also require decision-makers to make tough choices. As helpful as AI is, it can’t provide all answers, and humans will ultimate have to make decisions on where to invest. Perhaps the most challenging tasks will be deciding between two seemingly contradictory sets of data; learning about how specific AI works will be valuable for making an informed decision.
Generating Customer Information
Keeping customers happy is essential for maintaining a strong customer base, and creating customer profiles helps businesses offer the right products and services for specific customers. Artificial intelligence will enable companies to better define their customers and craft products, services, and payment plans that are more likely to succeed. AI is great for lead generation, and being able to cut down on lead generation-related costs can be a tremendous boon for businesses both large and small.
Humans have a limited ability to make sense of numerical data. However, AI is great at transforming numbers into charts and other visual tools that can inform decision-makers with or without technical knowledge. Although businesses are collecting far more data than ever before, visualization tools provide a compact and compelling overview that will help companies hone their operations more than possible in the past.
Projections of artificial intelligence taking over the world have been largely overstated, and computers still aren’t close to thinking as humans do. However, even incremental changes to AI can have dramatic effects, and many of these advances are expected to shine in 2018. For companies looking to gain on edge on competitors, or even just to keep up, AI will be a major consideration going forward.