We are entering an exciting new stage for artificial intelligence, especially in relation to putting AI to work in business and enterprise...
While much of the popular discourse around the technology has focused on the hyperbolic - be it visions of humanized virtual personal assistants like the film Her or the recent dramatic discussion over the threat of an artificial super-intelligence to humanity - the reality is actually much more mundane, but still significantly transformative.
Right now, AI technology is exceptionally useful when focused on specific areas, in a defined space. We call this domain expertise. As companies are forced to deal with an increasing flood of real-time data, massive product lines, and perhaps most important, consumer expectations for personalized experiences when interacting with a business.
AI has become a key component to address each of these challenges. The applications of AI can range from detecting trends in data to mitigate market risks, enhancing customer service through virtual personal assistants, or even analyzing millions of documents across a company’s servers to find compliance failures.
If we consider a virtual personal assistant such as Siri, then we know Siri’s AI is very good at performing some tasks, but breaks quickly when it attempts to reach outside its domain of expertise.
As these systems take a more central role in the business world, every modern enterprise will need an AI strategy
When Siri breaks down, it’s amusing or at worst frustrating. For enterprise, breaking is not an option - the stakes, and costs, are too high. Now that AI is finally being deployed and deeply integrated into business, it is these enterprise needs and strategy that will drive much of of how the mainstream will experience AI over the next five to 10 years.
And this is why the current debate over AI development is so crucial and transformative to enterprise. That businesses will increasingly need AI is readily recognized, but how it will be integrated into their systems has important repercussions that will impact companies for decades.
We can think of this in the same way that Google search transformed how customers find and interact with businesses. Because Google became the default search engine, it became the gateway to finding your company online. For the past decade, Google’s search engine has influenced nearly every major business’ marketing strategy, customer interactions, and sales operation.
We are in a similar position with AI now, as we move from a "search economy" to an AI-based, "answer economy".
Customers will rely on AI to help them find and engage a business. Business will rely on AI to support and service customers. And employees will rely on AI to perform their work on a daily basis. As these systems take a more central role in the business world, every modern enterprise will need an AI strategy. What systems can the AI access? Should you build a stack of AI systems in-house, or should you outsource certain components to a vendor? Are we optimized for the latest intelligent virtual assistants? What type of assistants do our customers prefer?
That’s not the hyperbolic type of AI you see in the movies. But for big business, this transformation is one of the great challenges of the next decade.