Understanding Artificial Intelligence in Business

Business executives are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence as a means to improve business functions and remain agile in a constantly changing market. Onlookers may want to follow suit, but the question emerges: How can my company use artificial intelligence in business to improve our operations, and how will we begin to implement it?

Before incorporating artificial intelligence into your business model, it's helpful to explore the benefits of AI, how other companies use it, and what challenges they face in incorporating AI into their business strategies. Once you have an understanding of this, you can see what gaps AI can help close in your operations and start to use artificial intelligence for your organization.

Business benefits and uses of AI

Artificial intelligence in business is about opportunities to streamline and optimize activities with greater precision than a human could do alone. Furthermore, by incorporating AI with cloud technologies, companies can collect, monitor, and share information among internal and external stakeholders with ease.

The cloud offers remote access and security, allowing essential personnel to work from any location at any time of day, and guarantees the peace of mind that their data is secure.

Businesses experience many benefits from using artificial intelligence including:

  1. Reduced operational costs. A business using artificial intelligence can experience a reduction in operational expenditures by streamlining processes and eliminating cost sunk into margins of error. When working with a cloud-based solution, the burden of maintaining and updating computer equipment is on the third-party cloud provider, so businesses pay a predictable monthly or yearly premium. The more efficiently business activities run, the more money saved. 
  2. Better data-driven decisions. Artificial intelligence runs on big data. As more data is collected, AI can make increasingly better decisions, and so can business managers. Rather than making important choices for your company based on a previous year’s numbers (which can fluctuate erratically), AI reduces the risk of decision-making and allows you to take informed steps by using real-time data.
  3. Improved lead generation. AI constantly collects customer data and creates well-rounded profiles on prospects and current customers. Sales and marketing teams are armed with complete and accurate information before they start to pursue a lead. Trusted data means your sales staff can pursue strong leads and optimize their performance by not wasting time on incomplete or inaccurate customer information.
  4. Reduced human error. Artificial intelligence does not have emotions. It doesn’t have bad days and doesn’t forget to carry the 1 when making calculations. All of the intangibles of the human experience that contribute to errors are taken out of the equation. However, AI does operate the way it is programmed, and it still has to be programmed by humans. So long as the algorithms are entered accurately, AI can reduce the number of operational mistakes that occur in day-to-day business.
  5. Improved fraud protection. Across industries, businesses use AI to detect and prevent fraud. Credit card companies use AI to identify irregular transactions on their customers’ accounts and then act on the information by blocking purchases, canceling credit or debit cards, and notifying the customer. With this kind of AI in place, sectors like retail and food service can save millions of dollars by preventing the processing of fake or stolen credit cards. 

Challenges of using artificial intelligence in business strategies

For all of its benefits, artificial intelligence in business strategies is not without its problems. Once you understand these obstacles, you can approach them proactively and work to overcome them.

  • Lack of skilled resources. One of the biggest challenges in implementing artificial intelligence in business is the lack of trained personnel to set up and manage the cloud. You can combat this by partnering with a cloud provider that offers training services and on-call IT support.
  • Lack of technological infrastructure. Given the problems noted above with the lack of trained personnel to manage cloud infrastructure, one might think an answer would be to move to an on-premises AI solution. But this has problems as well. Most businesses just do not have the hardware needed to support an on-premises artificial intelligence solution. The capital expenditure alone is enormous, and even if your company can afford it, there are recurring costs of maintaining and upgrading your equipment. However, cloud providers have the means and the storage space to house this kind of hardware so your business can capitalize on their assets and still experience the benefits of AI.
  • Lack of data governance. Customer and business data is sensitive information. It's not enough to build integrated artificial intelligence into your business model; you need to outline strict data governance guidelines. An AI provider can help you establish these boundaries. Many offer data cataloging, data stewardship, and platforms for efficient management.

How to start using AI for your business

Despite the potential obstacles, you can effectively integrate artificial intelligence into your business. While it may initially seem like an overwhelming process, it can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps:

  1. Begin with education. Devote time to learning about what artificial intelligence is, its core concepts, and what its capabilities are, so you can set expectations and hit the ground running.
  2. Identify issues you want AI to fix and tie them to business value. Artificial intelligence is a tool to streamline business processes, so first, identify which methods you want to improve. This way you can set up a targeted solution and tie it to specific business outcomes to make a case for AI adoption.
  3. Identify gaps in internal capabilities. If your company is lacking in an expansive IT department, or is in need of personnel to manage your artificial intelligence solution, identify those gaps before you implement AI.
  4. Select a provider and set up a pilot. Once you have laid the groundwork by educating your staff, outlining your goals, and ensuring you have the resources to operate your AI solution, contact a provider and arrange a test project.

The cloud and the future of AI in business

Cloud technologies add an additional layer of agility to artificial intelligence, and in turn, businesses reap the benefits. More and more AI solutions are being integrated with the cloud, offering remote access and monitoring, sharing of essential information, and increased data security.

With the cloud, businesses don’t have to worry about housing and maintaining entire rooms (or multiple rooms) full of expensive hardware. This frees up time and expenses and allows them to focus on furthering their business initiatives.

The cloud removes the limits on data storage capacity, allowing artificial intelligence to continue to learn and refine its processes, resulting in unprecedented innovation. Together, artificial intelligence and cloud technologies offer advancement to any industry.

As the cloud continues to grow, and technologies continue to expand and integrate, artificial intelligence will only improve. The cloud provides AI implementers with years of research, allowing even the smallest startups to implement a sophisticated AI methodology. As AI tools like Amazon’s Alexa continue to become more commonplace, their technologies will continue to develop and further enhance the user experience.

Getting your business started with AI: tools you need

Artificial intelligence is the future of business operations. A business powered by artificial intelligence experiences streamlined processes, reduced costs, data-backed decision making, quality customer leads, a reduction in human error, fraud prevention, and more.

AI is not without its challenges, but many companies have already seen the benefits and taken great strides toward future initiatives.

As you begin to implement AI into your business operations, remember to start small and gradually build upon your use of AI to ensure a system with a solid foundation and infrastructure.

However, before you take on the task of adopting AI, you need to have the right tools.

Talend is a proven facilitator of data system integration that helps businesses implement advanced AI capabilities. With Talend, you can scale up or down with ease and break free from legacy data infrastructure with a nimble, cloud-native, big data platform. Try Talend Data Fabric today and prepare your data for AI.

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