Artificial intelligence is everywhere. It’s no longer the technology of the future – it’s the technology of the present. While the great science fiction works of the past promised us artificial intelligence in the form of talking robots who can help with the housework – and that might still happen one day – the reality of the artificial intelligence of the 2020s is that it exists in smaller, invisible forms. It’s doing a lot more work in the world of business than many of us realise.
We’ve been told that artificial intelligence will be capable of doing just about everything in the business world in years to come. Artificial intelligence may one day be able to identify a sales prospect by analysing their behaviour. Perhaps it will even be able to make an introductory pitch. We’re even told that artificial intelligence will one day take over all content writing and website generation tasks. We can assure you that these words were written by human hands, though – and this human mind has been looking at the industries where artificial intelligence is having the most significant impact right now.
We’ve chosen retail first because it’s one of the least obvious industries for artificial intelligence to impact. After all, what is retail if not, at its core, the art of one person selling something to another? While that might be true, there are several areas around that core process that AI can assist with. Intel – a company we can rely on to know a thing or two about such matters – sees a lot of uses for AI within retail. At the moment, artificial intelligence is employed for supply chain optimisation, predicting how much stock is required in a certain location and automatically ordering it before it runs out. It also collects customer data and helps store managers optimise layouts to best attract the attention of buyers. The first self-shop stores, with no human assistants, already exist – and that would be impossible without the strategic use of artificial intelligence.
Put aside any complaints you might have about “lifestyle” not being an industry and think about it in real terms. If your company sells a fridge that can re-stock itself to a customer, you’re selling a lifestyle product. If you think no such product exists, you’re in for a shock – smart fridges have been around since 2016, and they’re getting smarter all the time. We don’t even have to look for anything as big as a fridge to illustrate how artificial intelligence makes a difference to companies selling lifestyle products. Many of us have either an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device. Those are lifestyle products, and they’re driven by artificial intelligence. When you speak to Alexa, you’re actually speaking to AI – it just doesn’t feel like it because it’s been given a human name. AI can already turn on and off your television, your radio, your lights, and even your locks. This is just the beginning.
One of the most visible impacts artificial intelligence has had on the business world is in the healthcare industry. At the moment, AI collects data about patients and can use that data to make predictions. Doctors shouldn’t and don’t rely on these predictions one hundred per cent, but it’s a useful tool for both diagnosis and prescription. AI can be used to either verify a doctor’s opinion or to give them a second opinion. Let’s not forget that artificial intelligence is also capable of image recognition and can do it far faster than human eyes can. From a “big picture” point of view, artificial intelligence is also likely to spot a pattern long before humans do because humans aren’t constantly in contact with each other. Hopefully, artificial intelligence will see the next epidemic or pandemic coming in advance and give us plenty of time to prepare for it.
Gambling is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world thanks to the advent of online casinos and online betting sites – doubly so now that the United States of America has opened up to sports betting. Where there’s gambling there’s money, but there’s also risk. SisterSite.com, which keeps track of popular casino websites and their popularity, has seen hundreds of new online casinos open in Europe alone in the past few years. Many of these casino sites take advantage of artificial intelligence tools. AI is capable of identifying when a player changes their behaviour – for example, chasing money they’ve lost by placing bigger bets – and stepping in when that behaviour becomes hazardous by giving the player a time-out or restricting their deposit or stake limits. AI can also assist with customer verification by identifying documents or requesting additional documents if the ones it sees don’t meet with requirements. There will always be risks with gambling, but artificial intelligence makes it all a little safer.
Banking and Financial Services
Like healthcare, banking and financial services are areas where artificial intelligence is having a large and obvious impact. Again, a lot of this comes down to data collection and data analysis. The simple fact is that AI is far more capable of monitoring data and identifying trends than a human is. AI is capable of predicting when an individual is likely to predict fraud before they actually do it. It’s also capable of automating processes like document checking, thus freeing up time for human employees to undertake other tasks. Many big banks now use AI to recommend additional products and services to customers based on their spending and saving habits, thus generating further income. Every time you’ve been accepted or rejected for a credit card or loan in the past few years, that’s artificial intelligence saying “yes” or “no.”
In some ways, the algorithms that drive social media websites like Facebook and Twitter could be classed as artificial intelligence – and we pour our whole lives into those social media websites. We’ve been quietly living with AI for a long time now, but it won’t be quiet for much longer. Artificial intelligence is going to take over the running of whole industries and services that we’ve come to rely upon. That might be a scary thought to some people, but if you own a business, it might be time to find out what it can do for you.