Eli Georgieva

Right now, we are in the middle of an era of disruption and with disruption thankfully comes innovation. Industries that may have taken another decade to transform now move forward with not just improvements but with new ideas and new ways of working. 

Twenty years ago, large organisations had a monopoly on innovation; now, anyone with the right strategy and product can enjoy a market share and revenue. We call this disruptive innovation. According to American scholar Clayton M. Christensen and his white paper ‘Disruptive Innovation: Intellectual History and Future Path’ written in conjunction with the Harvard Business School, disruptive innovation is the most influential business idea of the 21st Century. 

One of the biggest disruptors of old school thinking is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace. While AI is still a fashionable buzzword in the tech world, in many other industries, there is no denying that the recent AI and machine learning has changed the way the world works. From ALEXA to self-driving cars, AI is evolving to simulate human characteristics and behaviour to the next level.

The fact is, despite all the predictions on artificial intelligence and how robots are taking over human jobs, the truth is the use of AI is revealing itself as more of an enabler than a disruptor.

Importance of AI in Business

There’s little doubt that companies who implement AI applications are more diverse. Using AI across business practice allows them to analyse data across multiple functionalities from fraud detection and top-class customer relationship management and the ability to embrace a greener, more eco-friendly business model. 

Artificial Intelligence finds solutions to complex business problems in a more acceptable human-like fashion by adopting human intelligence characteristics and implementing them as algorithms in a computer/data-friendly way. Advanced machine learning and AI is being applied to many intelligent implementations; these include smart cars, robots, delivery drones and consumer electronics, and various intellectual apps and business solutions, notably in the retail and supply chain sector.

Consider the role of AI in transforming business practice. Artificial intelligence can play a significant role in analysing markets and giving accurate customer insights, valuable information that would take years to analyse otherwise. Companies can apply predictive analysis to the data assembled from web matrix, system matrix, and social media analysis to build a better and more enhanced product. The use of AI means the customer and employee experience is elevated to the next level through accurate consumer insights.

What makes artificial intelligence software so successful is that, unlike a purely statistical approach, AI learns, allowing adaptation when market behaviour changes and continually improving performance as more data becomes available.

According to The Harvard Business Review, AI best supports three essential business needs:

  • Gaining insight through data analysis.
  • Automating business processes.
  • Engaging with customers and employees.

HBR looked at 152 projects and found that the most common type of universally acceptable AI was the automation of back-office administrative and financial activities by using robotic process automation technologies. Robots which are, in fact, codes on a server, act as an inputting data clerk and consume and apply information from multiple IT systems in one go.

Top AI trends in 2021

Specific trends are data unlocking, Big Data, virtual assistance, and enhanced customer and employee experiences through the use of smart apps and ‘The Internet of Things’ (loT)

Data Unlocking and Big Data

Pre-internet, the amount of data a business generated was less, so it was easier to structure. Companies were able to derive insights from the data generated for their business needs. The entire scenario has changed, and data is not structured, and unstructured data represents a more significant part of the information available to business today. Because most of the data generated from online platforms are unstructured, tools that analyse unstructured data will be the most useful for any industry over the next ten years.

Big Data or Big Data Analytics is a process of examining large data sets containing various data types to uncover hidden market trends and understand customer preferences. Now AI offers enormous potential to understand consumer conversations by using what they say to identify their personality types. AI identifies those customers who can then be provided with compatible services - thus saving time and money on blanket advertising.

Virtual Assistance

Many companies are using artificial intelligence for virtual assistance. Companies deploy chatbots for various uses—an essential vehicle in modern customer service. It has been noted that customers still prefer to speak to a ‘real person’, but there is potential in machine-driven assistance with human lead customer service.

Smart Apps and loT 

The term applies to smart cities, intelligent transport, smart apps. Essentially, a ‘smart system’ uses internet-connected technology, which can communicate or interact with one another. In this case, smart is referred to as (loT) the 'Internet of Things' and means that any device or appliances can send or receive data, making them ‘smart’.

These devices’ ability to communicate with one another can allow businesses to control multiple devices from a single control point. Moreover, devices can often scan and use information from the internet, allowing them to respond intelligently to user requests.

So what can you do to make AI work for your business?

ShopWorks has been awarded Scottish Enterprise Grant to expand its operations and set up a data science and research team in Edinburgh to develop AI products that improve the lives of working people. This has resulted in the creation of the SolvedBy.Ai brand that has launched its first product Retention SolvedBy.Ai. 

The Retention SolvedBy.Ai product gives ShopWorks users a prediction for every member of staff on the platform of how likely they are to leave in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. Retention SolvedBy.Ai uses data such as lateness, leave outstanding, the number of weekends worked and the stability of shift patterns to make its predictions. It gives managers the opportunity to intervene with potentially unhappy staff and can deliver a real ROI in reducing churn and the costs associated with it.

The SolvedBy.Ai team has a number of other prototype products including Scheduling SolvedBy.Ai and Forecasting SolvedBy.Ai which are in pilot with a number of clients and will be available as a product soon.