AI is not here to change the world for the worse: Smarter tools simply represent the next stage in evolution, both for humans and the companies for which they work. Here’s what business leaders need to know.
As the co-founder of an artificial intelligence (AI) company, I’ve seen a lot of misconceptions about what AI can and can’t do. Some people think AI-powered flying cars will arrive any minute, while others suspect that AI will never escape the bounds of limited “if-then” programming. The truth, as usual, lies between the extremes, yet this technology is already more capable than most people realize.
Where is AI today?
Several prominent business leaders, including Bill Gates and Elon Musk, have warned society about the dangers of AI. They claim AI will take jobs from humans, lead to major accidents, or pose significant harm to humanity.
While I understand their concerns, these fears are often overblown. AI is not here to change the world for the worse: Smarter tools simply represent the next stage in evolution, both for humans and the companies for which they work.
During the Industrial Revolution, naysayers predicted that new machines would eliminate the need for manual labor. More than 100 years later, people still work in factories. The difference is not in their employment status, but in the work they perform. Factory workers in the 1800s spent their time turning screws, while modern workers perform more nuanced tasks. The work did not disappear, it evolved.
Today’s AI tools empower humans to pass off repetitive, manual tasks to machines, freeing them to better utilize their reasoning skills and human logic. With AI in our hands, we should be excited for – not afraid of – the possibilities that lie ahead.
What businesses should know about AI
Just as machinists in the Industrial Revolution took decades to fine-tune their machines, modern users of AI are only scratching the surface of the technology’s potential. Software companies typically use AI as a marketing buzzword, yet the more they understand how this technology works, the more they will utilize its unique benefits.
For example, while some companies use recorded phone trees to guide customer service calls, modern AI allows companies to identify and solve common customer complaints without any human intervention. That frees call center representatives to spend more time working on complex cases, increasing customer satisfaction while saving the company money.
This is only one facet of a global transformation. Cities and municipalities use machine learning to optimize routes and prevent accidents. Email providers depend on AI to spot spam and suggest one-click responses for busy professionals. Banks use it to prevent fraud, social media sites use it to engage users – wherever there is business, there is also AI.
Unfortunately, modern companies cannot simply pick up the phone and ask for an AI installation to fulfill their needs. Though AI remains an emerging field, it is already a vast one, full of intricacies that can make or break a company’s investment. To navigate this new market, business leaders need to know what to expect.
Over the course of this series, we will cover each of these six crucial areas of AI investment in more detail:
1. How to identify true AI solutions
Nearly every software company today claims to offer AI-powered products. Who is genuine, and who is packaging limited code as truly intelligent software? Companies must learn to spot the differences between the innovators and the pretenders.
2. How to negotiate with an AI vendor
Companies that sell true AI technology offer immense value to their clients, but most businesses don’t know what to buy. Too little investment could kill the effectiveness of the solution, but too much could leave the company hurting for cash. By learning more about what’s on offer, decision-makers can enter AI negotiations with confidence.
3. How to implement AI
A tool that sits in the shed doesn’t help anyone. To get the most from AI investments, businesses should learn where, when, and how to implement their new purchases – and which people within the organization should oversee their usage.
4. How to measure AI performance
Proper data management goes hand-in-hand with optimal AI implementation. With the right benchmarks and measurement tools in place, organizations can track the effectiveness of their AI investments and ensure they get the maximum value from their tools.
5. How to drive adoption of AI software
Strategic adoption strategies are vital to the success of AI implementations. Some workers will always be averse to change (especially technological change), so it’s up to company leadership to bridge the gap and ensure a smooth adoption process.
6. How to use AI to train new employees
Bad hires cost their employers millions of dollars in wasted productivity every year. AI can dramatically reduce those costs by helping new workers learn the ropes quickly. With effective training, someone who might have otherwise quit can become a vital part of the organization.
More companies implement AI-powered technology every day. The ones that learn the capabilities this technology offers, why they need it and how they can use it will enjoy a major competitive advantage while their hesitant competitors will struggle to keep pace. In the next part of this series, we explain how one differentiates true AI from solutions marketed as AI so business leaders can put their business on the right path.
Mikhail Naumov is the Co-founder, President & CSO of DigitalGenius, a venture-backed artificial intelligence company based in San Francisco & London. At DigitalGenius, Mikhail is responsible for bringing practical applications of deep learning to the customer service operations of growing companies. Mikhail is a frequent speaker on topics of emerging technology, AI & entrepreneurship, and has been recognized on the “Forbes 30 Under 30” list for Enterprise Technology.