Is your business ready for AI?

Computers are taking over! Not in a ‘War of the Worlds’ kind of way, mind you; I’m talking about how tech-boffins are developing clever systems to make businesses work better. We’re entering an age where computers are doing a lot of the thinking for us, helping us to make faster, smarter decisions based on the mountains of data we’re collecting.

That makes sense: Remember the ‘Big Data’ buzzwords of the 2000s? The dawn of the digital age saw an obsession with collecting information, partly because it’s so easy to do when everything is transmitted in ones and zeros. From social media, to online-shopping and every process in between, there are more channels than ever to collect juicy digital data about your customers.

If your business is collecting mega amounts of data – intentionally or not – but not really doing anything with it, you’re not alone. According to a survey by Pure Storage, 72% of IT decision makers said they collect information they don’t use. That’s not just random data either; we’re talking everything from customer insights, to financial information.

Many businesses have taken a tentative approach to adopting AI technology, letting the big, innovative players trial the technology and make the big-bucks investment into pioneering systems. However, AI is beginning to roll out in all sorts of commercial applications, so now it’s time to seriously consider how to get on board.

Are your processes primed for AI automation? Here are three things to consider.

1) What’s your problem?

Before approaching AI technology, it’s important to identify areas of your business where you want to see improvements. Remember, AI is not a fix-all – at least not yet – and it won’t run your business for you, but by understanding the limitations of the technology, you’ll be able to see where it can help.

Here’s an example: according to a survey by Nuance Communications, 71% of customers would prefer to use a livechat assistant, rather than static webpages, to get answers and resolve issues. When nearly three quarters of your customers feel this way, if your webpages are packed with traditional FAQs and wordy product pages, you could be losing out on business.

But having a team of customer service reps on hand to respond to queries in real-time through a live-chat feature is costly, and a drain on resources. The solution? Why not use a virtual assistant, automated by clever machine learning technology. You’ll give customers a more personal experience, without the need to employ new staff members. 

2) Make sure it will work for you

Advancement in technology is always exciting, but don’t be fooled into thinking that rolling it out across every process in your business will benefit you. Investing in unproven innovation can be an expensive venture; and the results might not always measure up to the cost.

Even though the potential to streamline your business processes and save both time and money could be huge, you have to weigh it up against the time and money you have to invest to make it work.

Instead, consider small improvements to key areas of your business that can make an immediate impact, and go from there. Once you’ve established the ROI on any technology you’re implementing, you can re-evaluate whether or not it’s having enough of an impact to be viable. 

3) Where can you roll it out?

Once you’ve established areas in need of improvement – whether automating simple processes, or maximising the efficiency of entire teams –  you can begin to identify the processes that could help you achieve those objectives without sacrificing ROI. By targeting key areas in this way, you can make a serious impact in a short amount of time, and reap the benefits of automation.

You might already be using machine learning in this way without realising it. Ever wondered how Outlook’s ‘Clutter’ function establishes which emails you want to read? It’s tasks like this; the one’s you use every day, that are tedious, repetitive and take up more of your valuable time than you would like. Chances are, there’s an AI solution that you could implement to help you.

As part of an improvement to multiple processes, Morgan Stanley have been working on a system that their financial advisors could use to make their advice more effective. Originally, they used a manual rule-based approach; but now they have developed a tool that uses machine learning to automatically match good investment possibilities with client preferences.

Now, what was once a time-consuming task in the role of every financial advisor, has become simple, efficient and frees them up to focus on other things.

The bottom line

AI and machine learning will affect us all at some point in the future, but forward-thinking businesses can start looking into AI now, so when competitors start dipping their toes into the automation pond, they won’t be left behind.

At Feefo, we’re continually looking into ways to help clients gain a better understanding, and a deeper insight into what their customers are saying – and our research into AI is yielding some incredible results.

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