Remember the Steven Spielberg film A.I., about the adorable child robot with feelings? Back then, artificial intelligence, or AI for short, was an obscure term used only by sci-fi enthusiasts and computer programmers. Nowadays, it affects all our lives, and in many more ways than most of us realize. No, we may not have fully realistic, high-tech android children to play with (yet?), but we’re all familiar with Siri, the ever-helpful iPhone app with the charming voice and an answer for everything – the difference is not as big as you might think.
AI gives computers the ability to understand commands on a deeper level, allowing them to autonomously come up with solutions towards a specific goal. Increasingly, computers are designed to mimic the way the human mind works, for example by learning from experience in order to enhance their problem-solving abilities. Such technology can be used to improve our daily lives: rather than spend hours surfing the Internet in search for the perfect restaurant for a date, Siri can come up with a great suggestion in an instant. The same principle can be extended to businesses and the contributions that AI can make to a company’s success should not be underestimated. Some business experts have gone so far as describing the development of AI as the most significant watershed since the industrial revolution!
Preparing for the Future
The experts drawing the analogy between AI and the industrial revolution aren’t just spouting hyperboles: it is widely assumed that AI will have a more powerful impact on workforces and economies than all other digital technologies combined! Since AI has the potential of revolutionizing the way humans and computers interact in the business world, in order to keep abreast of the competition, it is imperative for all businesses to get acquainted with the possibilities of AI and train their workforces accordingly. This should happen as soon as possible. AI is the future of business and, as always, it’s the early birds that will catch the worm.
Improving Customer Service
An obvious example of where AI can greatly assist a business is in the realm of customer service. Think about it: computers have perfect memories and can work at far, far greater speeds than the human mind. When customers report a problem, computers can search through databases and suggest targeted solutions to the problem at lightning speed. Moreover, as is often the case, the problem may be related to other problems. Rather than the customer having to call customer service again if these potential problems were to come up, the computer could signal them right away based on previous experiences and thereby work not only as a problem-solver, but also as a problem-preventer.
Humans + AI = Success
The worry that inevitably comes up as computers become increasingly advanced is that they could eventually replace humans in the workforce entirely. Such a development, thankfully, still belongs exclusively to the realm of sci-fi. In fact, the opposite is true. Yes, computers can work much faster and more effectively than humans, but computers require human supervision and assistance in order to conduct their work efficiently. And we’re not just talking about a technician who can fix a faulty computer, but about experts who can use computers to facilitate their work by leading them in the right direction and getting them to do the heavy lifting. Moreover, by their very nature, computers can only respond to strict rules, whereas the human capacity for adaptation will always be much greater. AI should be introduced into the workforce in order to increase efficiency and this can only happen through the successful collaboration between human and artificial intelligence.
Maintaining a Human Touch
Again, customer service is an excellent example to illustrate why it’s important for humans and computers to collaborate rather than compete. Customers highly value a human touch when they’re looking to solve a problem. Not only does speaking or writing directly to a computer feel cold and distanced, but customers are also much less likely to trust a computer over a real person, especially if they can talk with the person directly. As more and more businesses adopt AI technology, those that still offer real human interaction in their customer service will inevitably stand out from the competition.