By 2020 adopt AI for major business functions to stay competitive

Artificial intelligence is expected to transform the way companies will function and grow in next three years. AI is going to important for all those businesses looking to remain competitive in the coming years. This was revealed in a market study done by Tata Consultancy Services. According to TCS’s global trend study titled, “Getting Smarter by the Day: How AI is Elevating the Performance of Global Companies”, 84 percent of the global companies interviewed see the use of AI as important to remain competitive, and 50 percent see the technology having transformational impact on the business.

“As companies begin to gain a better understanding of AI’s application for business, they will realize the significant impact of this transformative force. This is reflected in our Global Trend Study, which shows that forward-thinking companies are beginning to make major AI investments,” said K Ananth Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer of TCS. In fact, 68 percent of the respondents feel that initially AI will be used for improving IT functions; however by 2020 this will extend to marketing, customer service, finance and HR processes. 70 percent of those interviewed feel that.

This study from TCS surveyed 835 leading executives from companies in four global regions, with an individual mean annual turnover of $20billion. The four regions surveyed were North America (including Canada), Europe (UK, Germany, France, Denmark and Switzerland), Asia-Pacific (India, China, Australia, and Japan) and Latin America (Brazil and Mexico).

Why AI is fast becoming important

“The study revealed AI is spreading across almost all areas of a company. Given the increasing digital disruption across every industry and the public sector, AI should become a key and integrated component of an organization’s strategy,” said Krishnan. In the IT departments today, AI is being used to detect security intrusions, user issues and deliver automation.

“The report shows that 68 percent of the companies are already using AI to detect and prevent potential hacks and security threats to their systems. And moving forward, the other key factors include developing cognitive systems that continually learn, have the ability to make reliable and safe decisions based on masses of data, and gain the confidence of managers to trust what AI is advising them to do,” informed Krishnan.

AI is expected to move from IT departments to sales and marketing and customer service. Businesses who took part in the study said that AI, in future could be used, to guide guiding customer service representatives to more quickly resolve customer problems and anticipate future purchases. Besides the customer facing processes, AI will also have major impact on non-customer facing corporate functions, including finance, strategic planning, corporate development, and HR. “AI will also help in quickly and securely reconciling mass overnight transactions for financial institutions, or giving time back to HR professionals by managing the time consuming on-boarding processes for new hires,” said Krishnan.

These points were highlighted by a cross section of companies from a range of industries, including automotive, banking and financial services, energy, healthcare, life sciences, industrial manufacturing, and retail. “AI will supplement business functions in the coming years and help improve business results,” explained Krishnan.

AI solutions today

As AI becomes a mainstream technology, financial investments in AI are set to rise, as 7% of companies each earmarked at least $250 million toward AI in 2016 and 2% already plan to invest more than $1 billion by 2020 – likely looking to gain a competitive advantage as early adopters.

That means solution providers have to be ready with AI solutions. IBM is one such company that is investing to developing partnerships to offer AI solutions to its clients. It has entered into a strategic collaboration with ABB to help their customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure deploy AI capabilities in their business. The two together will use ABB Ability and IBM Watson Internet of Things cognitive capabilities to offer AI solutions. “The new suite of breakthrough solutions developed by ABB and IBM will help companies address in a completely new way some of their biggest industrial challenges, such as improving quality control, reducing downtime and increasing speed and yield of industrial processes. These solutions will move beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to cognitive industrial machines that use data to understand, sense, reason and take actions supporting industrial workers to help eliminate inefficient processes and redundant tasks,” explained Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO.
ABB and IBM will leverage Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time production images that are captured through an ABB system, and then analyzed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing. Previously these inspections were done manually, which was often a slow and error-prone process. By bringing the power of Watson’s real time cognitive insights directly to the shop floor in combination with ABB’s industrial automation technology, companies will be better equipped to increase the volume flowing through their production lines while improving accuracy and consistency.

Similarly Accenture has partnered with German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, DFKI have formed an alliance to enable clients to take advantage of AI technologies as fundamental elements of their innovation strategies, helping to shape the future of their business. “The volumes of unstructured data from the rise of the Internet of Things and other major technology trends offer huge new opportunities for those looking to transform their operations or even develop entirely new business models using AI-based technologies. AI empowers people to do things differently and to do different things. By combining DFKI’s expert researchers and AI practitioners with the deep insights and assets from Accenture Analytics, we can help clients achieve real benefits from imagining and then building their AI-enabled futures, today,” explained Frank Riemensperger, country managing director for Germany at Accenture.

According to Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO of DFKI, the applications and AI technology is moving towards Smart Data & Services, Deep Learning, Human-Robot-Collaboration and AI-based Retail.

AI will foster jobs and lead to growth

Despite fears within the business community that AI will make many in the workforce redundant, both TCS and Accenture studies show it to be otherwise. TCS study shows that estimated net reductions in each function by 2020 will be between 4% and 7%. However, companies with the biggest revenue and cost improvements from AI see the need for at least three times as many new jobs in each function by 2020 because of AI, as compared to companies with the smallest AI-related revenue and cost improvements. “AI is already being used to automate certain processes and drive efficiencies, help employees be more productive and devote more time to more strategic business needs, and create new work and services that were not possible in the past,” explained Krishnan.

In another study by Accenture, it is seen that artificial intelligence (AI) could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 by changing the nature of work and spawning a new relationship between man and machine. The impact of AI technologies on business is projected to boost labor productivity by up to 40 percent by fundamentally changing the way work is done and reinforcing the role of people to drive growth in business, the study shows.

“AI is poised to transform business in ways we’ve not seen since the impact of computer technology in the late 20th century. The combinatorial effect of AI, cloud, sophisticated analytics and other technologies is already starting to change how work is done by humans and computers, and how organizations interact with consumers in startling ways. Our research demonstrates that as AI matures, it can propel economic growth and potentially serve as a powerful remedy for stagnant productivity and labor shortages of recent decades,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer, Accenture.

So we see that AI will significantly boost the productivity of labor that will enable people to make more efficient use of their time and do what humans do best – create, imagine and innovate new things.

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