Artificial intelligence has become incredibly widespread in the world of business, with the technology being adopted by many company departments. While IT departments are the biggest adopters of AI, with 67 per cent of organizations using it to detect security issues, 23 per cent of businesses are set to see it have an impact on sales and marketing by 2020.
However, there is still a vast misunderstanding about what AI actually is and what it can do. Although 84 per cent of global industry sectors consider the technology to be "essential" when it comes to their competitiveness, there still seems to be a lack of clear understanding of what AI can mean for business.
AI and machine learning
Although there is a big difference between AI and machine learning (ML), the two are often thought of as interchangeable. This leads to misunderstanding what each is useful for and how the technologies can be beneficial.
Wired explains that AI, as the name suggests, is machines that are capable of intelligent behavior. On the other hand, ML is where computers are able to act without explicit programming telling them to do so.
ML offers more effective web searches, speech recognition and even self-driving cars. It is part of AI - in fact, it is the fastest growing area of this technology - but not the same as artificial intelligence, which is where computers and machines can carry out actions in a "smart" way.
Understanding the difference and ensuring it is communicated correctly to other areas of your business can not only avoid confusion but also give a better understanding of what certain applications and programs can achieve.
Automation as the future of business
One of the biggest drivers for the broader adoption of AI in business is the idea of automation. With efficiency being a big buzzword for companies, the idea of being able to remove the human element from certain processes and allow computers to automate them is a huge draw.
Around 70 per cent of business decision makers in the US believe that AI’s ability to allow for automated alerts and communications will lead to more proactive approaches. But it isn't just those in business that see the advantages; 62 per cent of consumers think that AI will reduce the time it takes for them to get answers to questions without losing the personalized touch expected when dealing with people.
In fact, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report found that virtual personal assistants (31 per cent), automated data analysis (29 per cent) and automated communications (28 per cent) are the top three ways businesses expect AI to be beneficial. All of these are aimed at automation making tasks quicker, easier and more effective.
While AI is already being used in numerous ways, Gartner is expecting it to become a top tech trend for 2017. This means that businesses wanting to make the most of the technology's benefits need to be prepared.
Forbes suggests that companies need to not only ensure they have the right "technological foundation", they also need to ensure their business strategies are aligned with the potential uses of AI.
Business results should still be the focus when it comes to AI, meaning companies should look to functionality, goals and customer experience rather than the latest trends. Looking at AI in the long run can help to produce the right strategies that don't result in unnecessary investment.