Organisations today need to leverage the power of data to obtain actionable insights and solutions that will help them stay competitive. With the exponential increase in digital data and the availability of cloud computing, parallel processing power and near-free data storage, artificial intelligence (AI) has finally started to deliver benefits to companies. AI is moving beyond technology experimentation to real-world business scenarios across industries. Some of the key industry sectors, such as automotive, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing, have already started adopting AI to tap new growth areas. AI is being embedded into the fabric of organisations, including functions such as human resources, marketing and customer services. One of the key use cases of AI is creating business applications with intelligent capabilities. Most organisations are changing their applications to build better interfaces with cognitive capabilities, or deploy new solutions with predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities.

AI in business applications

AI can increase the functionality of existing business applications and turn them into tools for more effective customer en­ga­ge­ment and employee productivity. To develop intelligent business applications, a comprehensive AI platform is re­qu­ir­ed. In addition, software service providers need to create tools and services that make AI integration in an organisation faster and easier.

AI in business processes

AI enables organisations to take informed decisions with insights from data. This in turn helps them improve customer engagement, optimise their operations and provide better offerings. Reimagining business processes with AI also makes work more efficient, saving employees’ time so they can focus on higher goals. The following business functions are being integrated with AI on specific workloads to improve their efficiency and effectiveness:

  • Marketing: There is an increasing em­phasis on the entire customer journey. AI and machine learning can provide marketing firms with a more comprehensive view of their customers by analysing information across all the devices and revealing how their needs are changing. Further, by making marketing more personalised, AI can help marketers give better recommendations to customers.
  • Talent and human resources: High attrition rates affect an organisation negatively. It does not help to find out that an employee is unhappy only at the time of resignation. AI can help HR teams add­ress employee needs by analysing information collected through employee interactions with the help of internal systems, feedback from various sources, app­raisal systems and market analysis.
  • Smarter talent acquisition: Candidate screening is another task that can be easily automated using AI.
  • Procurement: AI adoption will lead to greater automation of menial tasks. Th­e­se could be automation of invoice processing, or comparison of purcha­se or­ders and supplier contracts.

AI in specific industries

Healthcare

In the healthcare domain, a large quantum of data is generated in a variety of formats. However, the quality of data and access to data resources remain significant challenges worldwide. Health data also needs to be protected, making its collection, sharing, aggregation and analysis particularly difficult. Integrating AI into healthcare can help personalise services to better serve patients. Analytics-driven individualised treatment plans based on a patient’s genetic makeup, medical history, lifestyle and more can be made possible through ad­vances in geno­mics and intelligent analysis of massive amounts of healthcare data. The use of healthcare bot services, which are cloud-based virtual health assistants, can provide users with conversational and engaging ac­cess to the most relevant and accurate healthcare services and information.

Financial services

With technological advances, cultural shifts, cybersecurity threats and regulatory changes, banks need to rethink the way they work. They are now competing with a growing number of cloud-native industry disruptors and  witnessing a shift in customer expectations. Innovative new capabilities, enabled by AI, are helping banks meet these challenges and transform their business. AI-powered NBA (next best action) solutions use sophisticated rules, analytics and algorithms to predict customer needs. This helps take more relevant actions, leading to improved wallet share and loyalty. Machine learning can help develop accurate risk, fraud and customer models, enabling financial services institutions to identify hidden risks and reduce the operating costs.

Manufacturing

The rise of digital technology and internet of things has provided manufacturers with huge amounts of data, which reflects their operational efficiency and business performance. Gleaning useful insights from this data is essential for manufacturers that often operate on narrow margins and are increasingly looking for value-added services, especially field services, to differentiate themselves. AI is empowering manufacturers to create more with their data, leading to performance improvements and advancements in predictive maintenance. By using AI, they can estimate the remaining useful life of machines and other components, enabling maintenance technicians to be proactive about repairs and reduce costly downtime. AI also helps in anticipating production disruptions, bottlenecks and safety risks.

Retail

AI is enabling retailers to tailor their offerings to meet customer demand with services such as sales personalisation. Intelli­gence applied to customer history enables retailers to deliver customised experiences, offerings, pricing, and modernise the online and physical buying experience. Further, forecasting models predict demand for different products, providing greater confidence to make pricing and stocking decisions and reduce losses arising from overstock and out-of-stock situations.

Government

AI tools enable governments to connect with their citizens more effectively, eliminate waste and protect sensitive information. AI can be used in smart cities to tackle common challenges such as fee and toll management, traffic optimisation and sustainability. Further, AI-based tools can provide citizens easier access to consolidated government services through tracking, search and conversational bots.

Education

Technology is helping students connect to the world around them and realising their full potential. Teachers, administrators and technology innovators are collaborating to solve some of the major challenges in education through AI. AI-powered tools make the classroom more accessible by providing real-time lesson translation for students who speak a different language and narration of surroundings for students who are blind. Analytic insights into student success and failure rates across entire schools or school districts can help educators make informed decisions for improving student performance.

Conclusion

AI is being discussed in nearly every domain of science, engineering and business. Currently, the most vibrant part of AI, machine learning, is dependent on the availability of relevant data sets within industries. Instead of developing AI applications that can only perform niche tasks, technology today is helping enterprises organise their structured and unstructured data into a single, searchable knowledge base. AI capabilities run on top of this data to understand the content and infer relationships, turning data into knowledge and ensuring that users receive only relevant information. This knowledge base serves as a strategic foundation for current and future AI initiatives. It is understandable, consumable and searchable by AI models and can enable enterprises to integrate AI in every aspect of their business. It is critical for organisations to partner with technology innovators to create AI solutions that can address vertical-specific requirements.

Based on Microsoft’s white paper on AI