Artificial Intelligence (AI) is popping up everywhere, but is it practical right now? Here we take a look at four practical applications for AI:
1. Virtual Assistance
Josh Sutton, who heads up the AI practice at Publicis.Sapient, the digital transformation company says, “Chatbots and virtual assistants are enabling a fundamental shift in how people interact with technology. I believe that over the next decade we will see virtual assistants become a core part of our normal experience across almost all of the activities that we engage in during a normal day.”
2. Generating Insights
We all know that there is a vast amount of data about everything, everywhere. However, on its own that data is useless without effective machinery to transform it into something of value. That’s the role that machine learning is starting to play. Today’s systems can not only take in billions of data points and analyse them in minutes, they can also learn from the data and get better over time.
What makes artificial intelligence systems so powerful is that, unlike purely statistical approaches, they can learn. That allows them to adapt when market behaviour changes as well as continually improve performance as more data comes in.
3. Automation of Manual Processes
History has taught us all about labour saving devices from the agricultural tractor to the household toaster, but AI is taking this to a new level by learning to quickly automate routine cognitive processes much as industrial era machines automated physical work.
Smart algorithms are already replacing junior lawyers for legal discovery and companies like Narrative Science can do routine journalistic work, such as summarising box scores and financial reports.
4. Unlocking Unstructured Data
Traditionally, almost all of the data we analysed was structured data, the kind that gets captured and stored in a database. So we were reasonably good at deriving insights from data generated for that purpose, like sales from a cash register or answers to a consumer survey, but most everything else got lost.
That’s a bigger problem than most realise, because structured data represents only a small part of the information available to us. In fact, it has been estimated that 80% of digital data is unstructured.
An area of potential is the ability to understand consumer conversations. One company, Mattersight, uses call centre conversations to identify customers’ personality types, so that they can be served by someone with a compatible service style. We are really just beginning to unlock the potential of unstructured data.