From machine learning (ML) to reinforcement learning (RL), deep learning (DL) to natural language processing (NLP) and transformer architecture. Artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on business (and life beyond it) is becoming more real, impactful, and wide-reaching than ever before.
In the most recent State of AI Report (the fourth annual review of AI and its impact on the world), authors Nathan Benaich - General Partner of Air Street Capital, and Ian Hogarth - an angel investor in 100+ start-ups, have explored the progression of artificial intelligence across the board, including research breakthroughs, the demand for talent, and the impact on industry and politics. We highly recommend reading it - although you may want to do so with a large cup of coffee.
So, what do businesses need to know about artificial intelligence and the future of business
Artificial Intelligence rules the world
Much like mobile phones once seemed to be the domain of James Bond alone, AI is no longer hypothetical or limited to the Elon Musks of the world. It permeates daily existence, whether we know it or not, influencing everything from social media to online travel agents and financial investment. From home care to disease mapping and international security, artificial intelligence is more wide-reaching and complex than ever.
For example, Forbes recently wrote:
"AI is advancing towards AGI or Artificial General Intelligence, where computers can learn and begin to think like humans, not unlike Alan Turing's famous ‘test'. Indeed, an AI program called GPT-3 can write half decent fiction."
"There is already plenty of evidence to suggest that AI is playing a military role. In Ukraine, drones have been programmed to recognise Russian military equipment and to attack it."
Meanwhile, in an experiment at the Swiss government's Spiez Laboratory last year, an artificial intelligence driven drug discovery platform called MegaSyn was deployed to investigate how it might perform if it were untethered from its usual parameters (to seek only good outcomes). Forbes said:
"MegaSyn was left unconstrained by the need to produce good outcomes, and having run overnight, produced nearly 40,000 designs of potentially lethal bioweapon standard combinations (some as deadly as VX). It is an excellent example of machines, unconstrained by morality (humans have willingly crossed this moral threshold), producing very negative outcomes."
All of this sounds simultaneously awe-inspiring and frightening. However, understand technology and its capabilities, and you hold the keys to the kingdom in many ways. Used with clarity and used well, technology, including AI, creates more opportunities for businesses to work smarter, reach target markets, support customer experience and ultimately lead to business growth and success.
Artificial Intelligence is no longer an option
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? In much the same way, one might ask glibly - if a business doesn't have an online presence, does it even exist?
Technology is no longer an option for businesses - it's essential. If you want to compete today and exist tomorrow, technology is definitely your friend.
Having a digital footprint is the bare minimum expected of any business in the modern age. Most companies use artificial intelligence, whether they think about it or not. It's built into platforms ranging from spam filters to email categorisation, dynamic price optimisation to fraud detection and prevention for online transactions.
However, making a success of that business is about what's behind the scenes far more than what's consumer-facing. What customers see is the result of a much more detailed approach to learning, understanding and decision making, influenced by data, analysis and the execution of those findings. The mastery occurs when customers merely have an easy and helpful experience with your business.
While many will have been using data on some level for a while, what's changing is the pace, accuracy and level of personalisation with which it can be used to improve and affect the customer experience, thereby enhancing sales/conversion rates/ achieving your preferred goals.
Benefits of AI for businesses
The benefits of artificial intelligence for business know no bounds. However, most business leaders will be looking to cut through the magnitude and understand how all of this technological advancement will help them grow - improving conversion rates and margins for sustainable business development.
The short answer is that AI does that by improving your knowledge of the marketplace, your understanding of your customers and customer behaviours, and tailoring your product or service to meet those needs and drive sales. As time goes on, the options and benefits will continue to evolve. As we stand, the business benefits of AI include:
- It drives down the time taken to perform a task.
- It drives down sales time and increases conversion rates.
- Allows you to automate specific tasks and reallocate human resources to high-priority areas.
- It operates 24x7 without interruption or breaks.
- It provides a more accurate and complete understanding of the market, your customers and their behaviour.
- Allows you to personalise customer experiences.
- Facilitates decision-making by making processes faster and smarter.
What business leaders need to know to benefit from artificial intelligence
Are you feeling overwhelmed? You're not alone. E , the options and the pace of evolution in AI can be overwhelming. Most governments haven't got to grips with the possibilities (good and bad) of AI, let alone found ways to marshal them for the benefit of economies and humankind.
Indeed, to some extent, the onus for using AI is actually on those developing it to make sure that it is usable for business owners at all levels. The business that is not a leader in the development of AI and technology but is a user is the customer.
In the same way that no customer using an app or a website wants to know how it works, they want the most straightforward process; a business utilising AI to boost their organisation simply wants it to work.
Even so, with the industry in its comparative infancy and (as infants do) growing at pace, business leaders need to know not necessarily how AI works but what options are available and why they're relevant to you. In short, you don't need to have all the answers, but you do need to know what questions to ask - something that's harder than it sounds when you aren't aware of what you don't know.
As the world becomes physical, an outside perspective from a customer driven, commercially aware business growth consultancy like gigCMO becomes even more valuable. Enabling you to focus on your objectives and determine the questions you need to ask to get the right solutions for you rather than feeling the need to have every solution at the outset. If your business is large enough to put that kind of investment into having every technological capability available, that's great. However, most organisations, even (or especially) the most successful ones, are discerning in their spending and targeted in their decision-making.
Business leaders must also be prepared to constantly review martech capabilities within their business - it supports your business in ways many CEOs do not understand well enough.. It is not a job that ends, and it requires ongoing attention and review, reflecting both the industry's progression and the tools available to you, as well as the wants and needs of the business as it grows.
The world of technology is here, whether we want it to be or not. The question is not whether you use it to grow your business but how you will use it and how smart your decision-making will be.
At gigCMO, we work with business leaders to offer support, guidance and external capabilities that help them make the best decisions for the growth and sustainability of their company. If you would like to find out more about how gigCMO can help support your business growth, contact our team for an initial consultation.