Artificial Intelligence: How to use it in business

OPINION / 13th February 2017

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer the preserve of fiction.  Ever since IBM’s Watson beat two of Jeopardy’s champions in 2011, the world has taken notice of the power of AI.

(Photo: John Tolva)

Since then, many of the largest companies in the world, including Google, Facebook, Baidu, Microsoft, and Amazon, have adopted and are integrating AI into their business models. Gartner says, “by 2020, algorithms will positively alter the behaviour of billions of global workers,” and Markets & Markets has forecasted that investment in AI tech will reach $5.05B by 2020.

The combination of massive and available datasets, inexpensive parallel computing, and advances in algorithms have made it possible for machines to function in ways that were previously unthinkable. But rather than becoming the dystopian predictions of Orwell in 1984 or more recently of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, AI is more about functionality, improving tools and solving problems than building a human-like mind.

We’ve already seen examples of AI entering the market place:

Driverless cars:

  • Uber rolled out its fleet of driverless cabs in San Francisco back in December.
  • Otto, the Uber owned self-driving vehicle, completed its first commercial delivery of beer on a 120-mile trip in Colorado in October 2016.
  • And the European Truck Platooning Challenge, which involved trucks from six different manufacturers traveling in miniature convoys, completed its journey in Spring last year.
     

Intelligent agents:

  • A Japanese insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance has introduced IBM’s Watson Explorer AI to calculate pay-outs to policyholders.
  • Alexa, from Amazon, which is currently in an Echo or Dot device, and in more than 5 million homes around the globe, is set to become our latest companion in the car too as Alexa Voice Services roll out across the UK this year.
  • Personal assistants, such as x.ai and Microsoft’s Cortana, are becoming increasingly popular and have the ability to organise and maintain information, manage emails, calendars, to do lists and some can perform concierge type tasks.
  • Chatbots are being adopted by most industries. Even The White House, under Obama’s administration, used them. The White House Facebook page used a chatbot to allow US citizens to send questions or provide feedback to President Obama.
     

Robotics:

  • Robots have replaced humans in some advanced hotels around the globe.  Japan’s Henn na Hotel, part of an amusement park, uses a robotic receptionist to greet guests. She uses facial recognition technology to register the guest at check-in.
     
  • A room-service robot called Relay is wowing hotel guests across the US. The three-foot tall robot uses WiFi and on-board cameras and sensors to find its way.
     
  • Robotics have also played a key role in decommissioning the three reactors in Fukushima, northern Japan, which went into meltdowns in 2011.
     

Although AI is still in its infancy within many sectors, machine learning and adaptive algorithms are gaining momentum as businesses realise their efficiencies.

According to a new report: The Age of AI: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Organisations, by Altimeter (a Prophet Company), there are four types of AI that can be used in business, these are:

  1. VISUAL/SPATIAL:  This is the ability for machines to see and process the physical and digital world. Techniques such as computer vision/image recognition, facial recognition and emotion detection can be used in banking and insurance fraud. 

    The American retail bank Wells Fargo has recently introduced retinal scanning as a security measure for its customers.
     

  2. MOTOR: This is the ability for machines to move around and manipulate physical or virtual environments, or communicate using gestures. Robots and gestural or adaptive interfaces have been in manufacturing for a decade. But new businesses, even farms, are adopting robots to drive efficiencies. 

    The Japanese lettuce growing company, Spread, is set to launch its first indoor robotic farm, that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day, later this year.
     

  3. AUDITORY/LINGUISTIC: This is the ability for machines to listen selectively and communicate using written or spoken language. Examples include virtual personal assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Viv, Cortana, Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine translation and chatbots. 

    The Bank of America is working with Facebook to introduce a chatbot service for its customers to provide real-time alerts and eventually allow them access to account data, and to transact. The banking bot ‘MyKai’ available through Facebook Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp and SMS - already offers this functionality. RBS, is developing its own technology, to introduce chatbots.
     

  4. COGNITIVE: Cognitive intelligence is the ability to learn, reason, predict and respond. This is the key distinction between machines and rule-based systems. Without it, machines simply respond to pre-defined inputs; with it, they can self-program based on new data. AI can assist medical diagnostics enabling doctors to analyse patient data, tests, and scans to help diagnose disease and recommend treatment.

    According to the Becker Hospital Review, hospitals in the US are being recommended to use Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation (CAPD) software to analyse patient medical information, captured in a medical records, to draw out diagnoses that are supported by medical evidence. 

Author of the Altimeter Report, Susan Etlinger, has broken the possibilities of AI down into products and technologies. In the table below she demonstrates the potential value of each product or technology and suggests a relevant industry that it could be applied to.

How to use AI in your business:

Augmented Reality

Potential Value

Potential Value
Cross-channel Insights, Language Translation, 3-D Maps, Virtual Shopping

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Hospitality, Travel, Retail


Chatbots & Intelligent Agents

Potential Value

Potential Value
Customer Service and Customer Experience, Personal Productivity, Knowledge Management

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Consumer Electronics, Travel, Retail, Beauty, B2B Sales, Legal Services

Driverless Cars & Drones

Potential Value

Potential Value
Transportation, Delivery, Quality Assurance, Security

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Transportation and Logistics, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Security

Imaging (Computer Vision)

Potential Value

Potential Value
Virtual Diagnostics, Brand Management, Quality Assurance

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Medicine, Health Management, Manufacturing, Architecture and Urban Planning, Retail, Food and Beverage, Security



Machine Learning Algorithms

Potential Value

Potential Value
Forecasting Utilization, Knowledge Management, Predictive Analytics, Price/ Purchase Prediction, Recommendation Engines, Software Development, Virtual Sales Assistants

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
City Planning, Financial Services, Legal, Travel, Retail, Consumer Electronics, Healthcare, Food Safety, Security, Public Transportation, Law Enforcement

Machine Translation & Natural Language Processing

Potential Value

Potential Value
Translating Languages, Reading and Interpreting Text (unstructured data) and Converting it to Signals (structured data)

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Digital Marketing, Customer Experience, Healthcare (patient record analysis), Travel and Hospitality, Content Management, Risk Management, Legal Services, Security and Safety

Potential Value

Potential Value
Selecting/Recommending Preferred Content, Increasing Engagement and Preference

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Selecting/Recommending Preferred Content, Increasing Engagement and Preference

Robots & Robotics

Potential Value

Potential Value
Automating Manual Processes

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Security, Smart Homes, Precision Medicine, Manufacturing, Transportation


 

Virtual Reality

Potential Value

Potential Value
Teleconferencing, Gaming, Entertainment, Delivering Virtual Experiences

Relevant Industries

Relevant Industries
Retail, Gaming, Media, Entertainment, Medicine, Manufacturing

 

Source: The Age of AI report by Altimeter, a Prophet Company

ORM’s view:

AI is starting to touch every aspect of our lives and is becoming ever-more transparent. With intelligent agents in the home, chatbots on websites and now the introduction of driverless vehicles, AI is beginning to reshape our relationship with technology. As Microsoft, IBM and Facebook opened up their APIs to developers to use freely last year, more machine learning capabilities will be built into existing apps and products. The cloud platforms we’re developing on now have AI capabilities built into them, which allows our clients to benefit from predictive analytics and enables them to gain deeper, more meaningful insights into their data to draw out diagnoses that are supported by evidence.

Keith Nation Keith Nation Managing Director & CTO Keith Nation