How artificial intelligence could transform your business

We look at the current state of AI, and more importantly the future

Using artificial intelligence (AI) in your business may not be something that is on your agenda, but the chances are you may have already begun to use AI without even knowing it. The Airbnb application for instances uses Aerosolve to deliver its dynamic pricing feature.

Amazon's Machine Learning – part of its AWS cloud services – allows businesses to analyse massive datasets to reveal patterns and also train its algorithm. And Google's Translate API uses machine learning to deliver much more accurate translations, as it assesses how words relate to each other.

In a report into the possible impact of machine learning, Simon Raik-Allen, MYOB's Chief Technology Officer, said: "As machines get smarter, there will be a time when someone creates a machine that can learn. We are not there yet, but a lot of progress is being made."

Certain areas of your business will feel the impact of AI first – whenever data needs to be analysed, AI is the perfect vehicle to achieve this. With companies collecting masses of information thanks mostly to social media, making sense of this information and finding value is perfect for an AI. Salesforce predicts that nearly 60% of business' sales teams will increase their use of sales analytics this year.

The North Face experience harnesses Fluid s Expert Personal Shopper software to create a more engaging and personalised shopping experience

The North Face experience harnesses Fluid's Expert Personal Shopper software to create a more engaging and personalised shopping experience

Developed in partnership with digital commerce technology agency and software solutions provider Fluid and powered by IBM's Watson cognitive computing technology, The North Face shopping experience harnesses Fluid's Expert Personal Shopper (XPS) software to create a more engaging, personalised and relevant shopping experience.

"Digital retail continues to transform the way we shop, and embedding cognitive technologies is the next major step in engaging customers," said Kent Deverell, CEO of Fluid. "By tapping into Watson, XPS aims to provide The North Face shoppers helpful, relevant and intuitive product recommendations. We believe this kind of engaging, personalised interactive experience will become the norm for online shoppers in years to come."

Customer services is also ripe for an AI makeover, as many of the repetitive aspects of customer services could be handled by an artificial intelligence. Whether consumers will be happy to speak to a machine is another matter entirely, as automated switchboards continue to be a major pressure point for consumers when contacting businesses and organisations.

Jonathan Crane CCO IPsoft

Jonathan Crane, CCO, IPsoft

Practical applications

A good example of how AI can be applied to a practical business application is Amelia. Developed by IPsoft, Amelia is an artificial intelligence platform that can understand, learn and interact as a human would to solve problems. Amelia reads natural language, understands context, applies logic, infers implications, learns through experience and even senses emotions.

Unlike other technologies that purely detect and match words used in queries to retrieve information, she understands what is meant, not simply what is said. She applies context to distinguish between different uses of the same word in order to fully understand the implied meaning.

Jonathan Crane, CCO, IPsoft, commented: "At present the effects of IPsoft's Amelia are largely being felt by larger companies which are the first to adopt and implement new systems and embrace a shift in working practice.

"AI is driving a huge change in the way we can target our marketing and advertising – even for smaller companies. This means that businesses are able to target their spend and increase ROI and allow advertising to do what it should – giving people adverts they want to see."