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AI in Business: What You Need to Know

AI (Artificial Intelligence) has gone from being the stuff of sci-fi to a widely implemented technology in many businesses and industries. The move towards automation and digitalisation has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic – many organisations and workers have had to rely on technology to conduct business operations, and a spotlight has been shone on technological solutions in business. Furthermore, society seems to have become more trusting of technology like AI, and it has become much more accessible for the general public.

But incorporating AI tech into your business is no easy feat, and there are a multitude of factors to consider. We’ve broken down a few of the key issues of AI implementation…

WHAT IS AI?

AI is a broad branch of computer science, the purpose of which is to create technological systems that can function intelligently and independently. One of the defining features of these systems is that they are able to simulate, to an extent, human characteristics such as holding conversations, picking up patterns, learning from past experiences or data, and draw conclusions.

HOW CAN AI BE USED IN BUSINESS?

There are two primary uses for AI in business: classification and prediction.

Classification involves feeding data into an AI system which then groups this data into predetermined categories. Once data has been organised, further technological systems can be used to work with this data to achieve a particular goal.

Prediction involves the analysis of collected data by an AI system, so that patterns and trends can be recognised and extrapolations can be drawn. This is very useful for getting a clear idea of what may happen in the future, which allows businesses to prepare for what may come.

The key to successfully implementing AI into business processes is strategy. You need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, and determine how automation can be used to further elevate successes, and address chinks in the armour. You will also need to analyse and assess business processes – if a process is inherently flawed, AI will not be of much help.

THE PROBLEMS OF AI IN BUSINESS

You may think that technological issues would be the main obstacle in the business application of AI, but often the biggest difficulty is the acclimation of employees when AI systems are introduced.

It takes time and training for workers to become comfortable with AI solutions, and employees may be resistant to the implementation thereof due to fears of being replaced by robots or technological systems. The problem of job loss due to technological developments has been of great concern since the Industrial Revolution, and as society has continued to progress, this fear has only grown. Of course, many jobs have been automated, especially in industrial production, and there is reason for a certain level of concern. However, an increased dependence on technology for business operations also creates a demand for more IT professionals.

Furthermore, computer science is a relatively accessible career, requiring little more than a computer, an internet connection, and education and training. One must also remember that humans can perform a wide array of functions that AI will not be able to achieve for a long time. Artificial intelligence truly is breathtaking, but there will always be a need for human creativity, innovation and passion in business.

While there will always be concerns around AI and the rise of technology in society, these are certainly times of advancement, excitement and great hope for the future.

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