How Artificial Intelligence will affect business in the next decade

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Tipped to be the most disruptive technology of all time, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, from the boardroom to your living room.

It has already transformed industries across the globe, and companies are racing to understand how to integrate it into their own business processes.

AI is not a new concept. The technology has been with us for a long time but, in the past, there were too many barriers to its use and applicability in our everyday lives. Now, improvements in computing power and storage, increased data volumes and more advanced algorithms mean that AI is going mainstream. Businesses are harnessing its power to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in the digital age.

The technology makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. It does this by processing large amounts of data and recognising patterns in that data. It can analyse much more data than humans at a much deeper level, and in a faster timeframe.

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When you consider that most organisations can’t cope with the data they already have today, let alone the data that is around the corner, there’s a huge opportunity for organisations to use AI to turn all that data into knowledge to make faster and more accurate decisions.

Customer experience is increasingly recognised as the new competitive battleground for all organisations and, over the next decade, those businesses that dominate in this area will be the ones that survive and thrive. Analysing and interpreting the mountains of customer data within the organisation in real time and turning it into valuable insights and actions will be crucial.  

Today most organisations are using data only to report on what their customers did in the past. SAS research has revealed that 93% of businesses currently cannot use analytics to predict individual customers’ needs. Over the next decade, we will see an increasing number of organisations using machine learning to predict the future in terms of customer behaviours and needs. Just as an AI algorithm can teach itself how to play chess, the massive volumes of customer data that exist across an organisation can be used to teach AI what the next best action for an individual customer should be. For example, what product to recommend next to them or which marketing activity is most likely to result in a positive response.

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As well as helping to improve insights and make accurate predictions, AI offers the potential to go one step further and automate business decision-making entirely.  When you think about the thousands of operational decisions that are made every day by front-line workers or dependent applications, AI can make those decisions faster, more accurately, and more consistently. Ultimately, this means improving KPIs for customer satisfaction, revenue growth, return on assets, production uptime, operational costs, meeting targets, and more.

Take Shop Direct, which owns the Littlewoods and Very.co.uk brands. They are using AI from SAS to analyse customer data in real time and automate decisions to drive ground-breaking personalisation at an individual customer level. This approach saw Shop Direct’s profits surge by 40%, driven by a 15.9% increase in sales from Very.co.uk.

AI is here, it’s being adopted and it’s delivering business results across almost every industry today. The rate of adoption is already faster than the arrival of the internet over 20 years ago. In the next decade, every successful company will have AI impacting its skills, culture, and structure, enabling the delivery of superior customer experiences. 

If you would like to discuss any of the themes in this blog, feel free to reach out to me on tiffany.carpenter@sas.com or connect with me on Twitter @T_J_Carpenter.

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