Change is a constant in the world of business. That is why, at any given point in modern history, enterprises have been dealing with one “transformational trend” or another. In the 1980s and 1990s it was computing; in the 2000s it was the Internet, followed by mobility, cloud, and now the latest mantra – digitalisation.
In a way, it is this constant need to evolve, change, and improve on the status quo, with all the tools available to us, that defines us as a human race. The only way is forward and progress is only limited by our own inventiveness.
Next stop: Artificial intelligence
So where do Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all the related technologies and domains, such as natural language processing (NLP), cognitive computing, deep learning and others fit in with this larger map of digitalisation? Do they constitute yet another emerging transformative trend?
Based on the way that AI is being implemented within scores of organisations today, AI is clearly much more than a trend. It represents the start of a brand new period of exponential opportunities, as well as significant challenges for enterprises. There has been much discussion around the current and potential proliferation of AI-enabled automation in every industry.
The impact of AI on jobs and the very nature of human work has also been widely covered by reputed organisations and thought-leaders. However, what has so far been largely overlooked is the opportunities that AI and related technologies enable for enterprises and for humans.
Mind the expectation gap
For many enterprises, they face a major challenge in bridging the gap between expectations and reality. For example, large consumer services organisations must meet the expectations of a range of business stakeholders; including partners, employees, and customers – and those expectations have evolved rapidly over the past few years. Topping the list will be the need for businesses to show speed, adaptability, and agility, while maintaining lean operations.
>See also: How AI is changing enterprise sales
Meanwhile, customers and employees are clamoring for personalised experiences and “predictive” service quality. This is underscored by a larger demand to achieve greater “service orientation,” a fundamentally different way to operate for many organisations.
Many organisations in this position have quickly realised that there is no silver bullet to meeting these expectations. In fact, many of them are at cross-purposes with each other. This is because there are fundamental ground realities that seem insurmountable, like limits to human performance, the near certainty of human induced errors in any manual process, the burden of legacy systems and processes, and most importantly, cost pressures. So how does one surmount the insurmountable?
AI light at the end of the tunnel
In many cases, AI and its related technologies prove to be a beacon of hope for bridging the expectation gap. With mature AI solutions, enterprises can not only automate repeatable low-level tasks, but also more complex human-centric tasks. The most visible example of this is how cognitive and natural language interfaces are becoming more and more mainstream every day.
Another is how with the power of machine learning (and now deep learning), truly autonomous decision-making systems are becoming a reality. Combine this with powerful large-scale data analytics, and suddenly, to borrow a quote from Adidas, Impossible is Nothing.
Now, loan-approval systems, which could involve a lot of manual labour and take many days to process, can be significantly simplified by end-to-end orchestration using systems based on AI technology.
Customer service processes can be totally transformed to be consistent and efficient like never before, through the application of cognitive and NLP systems. We are already witnessing many examples of digital applications and smart websites changing content, offers, and even performance based on user personas, dynamic environments and trends – providing a “hyper-personalised” experience for users. There are several examples of the impact of artificial intelligence on businesses across industries and domains.
This is enterprise AI like it has never been imagined before. The world, by its very nature of constant change and evolution, has thrown various challenges for enterprises to meet and overcome.
Today, more and more enterprises are using the power of AI to meet those challenges by bridging the gap between escalating expectations and on-the-ground realities. If AI was built to achieve a higher purpose, this is it. To help businesses be bigger, better, faster, and more agile than ever before – and to overcome our natural limitations. So, returning to the original question, is AI another transformative trend?
The answer seems clear; it is the new way to operate. It is a significant opportunity for enterprises to rebuild and reimagine themselves on a brand new AI-powered foundation, where man and machine are engaged in ways never before thought possible.
By Kalyan Kumar, executive vice president and CTO – IT Services, HCL Technologies