Thinking Ahead: Artificial Intelligence in Business

AI in Business
AI in Business

Artificial Intelligence, or ‘AI’, is a subset of computer science focused on developing machines with capabilities to think and act like a human. While the thought of Hollywood movies where machines take over the world may come to mind, AI in the real world is may not be as dramatic but it is exciting as the interest and development of AI grows.

Artificial intelligence has groundbreaking applications like self-driving cars and advanced medical diagnostics, but most of us encounter AI applications daily in more subtle ways. Wonder how those suggestions on Netflix come up? How Siri works, or how Gmail can give you suggestions on completing that sentence you are typing? Yep, those are all AI driven solutions.

In business, the potential is large. Briana Brownell, founder and CEO of Pure Strategy, a Saskatchewan-based AI company, explains how her company has created a cognitive engine that can help identify patterns in large volumes of data, understands tasks and can make predictions—valuable qualities for business executives in the decision-making process. “It’s really about taking over some of the tasks that take humans a long time to do so they can focus on the higher value tasks,” she says.

An intelligent machine can sift through massive amounts of data and discover emerging patterns in a fraction of the time it would take a human to perform the same task. “You can look at how humans go through and categorize [the information], but it takes a long time and isn’t exactly repeatable because people bring their own biases to the data,” Brownell says.

In product development, AI can help identify gaps in the market or spot trends. Insights in consumer behaviour help marketers identify the target audience and segmentation can be drilled down on a much more individual level. “Forget your standard target group of ‘women age 45-55.’ You can connect with potential customers on a much more personalized level,” says Brownell. “Using AI can help you personalize some of your marketing programs at a scale that you couldn’t do before.”

With AI driven technologies, executives can better understand current and potential customers. They can respond quicker to customer behaviours and provide a more holistic brand experience across marketing channels. An AI engine can effectively monitor the social medial sphere and can help synthesize online customer feedback, comments, survey results and discussions.

Even copywriting and advertising can benefit from AI by delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time. The result is content with a tone of voice that conforms to brand standards while being customized for the individual reader.

The use and development of AI in marketing is exciting but not without concerns. While Brownell doesn’t see a risk of AI making the human marketer obsolete, she mentions data privacy and data ownership as two areas that need to be monitored and addressed on a global scale.

“For me, the most exciting reality about artificial intelligence is its ability to augment the talented individuals that work in marketing already,” she says. Rather than replacing human marketers, AI can help empower them. “Artificial intelligence is not at the point where it is going to replace that person-to-person interaction,” she continues.  “The other area is open-ended problem solving, the kind of decisions a CEO would make. These are the two areas where artificial intelligence will be challenged.”

As for the future, Brownell notes that AI has had less impact on the work-life than on our lives as consumers. She is expecting that will change and hopes to be part of developing AI solutions that will help humans in the workplace. “A lot of people in their jobs are not necessarily in regular contact with artificial intelligence but I expect that will change in the next decade and individuals in most companies will have AI co-workers,” she concludes.