AI & Automation surge towards indispensability in 2023
Like the latest news in nuclear fusion, AI keeps breaking through with astonishing new sci-fi level capabilities. But while it may take years or even decades before fusion leads to practical applications, AI use cases are proliferating right now in nearly every corner of commerce.
Computers will overtake humans with AI at some point within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.
– Stephen Hawking
The impact of AI on human society is inescapable, with new creative offerings launching almost daily. The speed with which AI advances, plus the eagerness of venture capital to bankroll ambitious startups pose a set of complex challenges for decision-makers. A dynamic but often unstable economy demands analytic powers that almost approach precognition. Some solutions will quickly become transformational and indispensable, rewarding early adopters, while others run into implementation kinks and fade away. Where should decision-makers place themselves in the diffusion of innovations curve in order to capture the benefits of AI?
Analysts like Gartner and Forrester delve deeply into AI advances to forecast, analyze and guide enterprise investment. Gartner surveyed 2000 CIOs in October 2022 to derive the insight that accelerating time to value is a top priority, along with sharpening operational excellence (53%) and improving the customer or citizen experience (45%). These leaders expect to see digital-driven improvements reflected in enterprise financials.
Keeping a sharp eye on the direction of arising trends can reduce the risk that companies run in committing to a strategy or solution. Which use cases promise solid productivity gains, and digital dividends. and cost savings? Fortunately, AI itself often provides the answers, offering access to abundant history and detail from knowledge-based systems to fuel deeper, more accurate insights.
Validate with real customers and use cases
Business issues notwithstanding, the smart prognostication for 2023/24 is that AI itself will continue its inexorable march from nice-to-have to indispensable. Rely on AI to keep gathering momentum, expanding its influence and accuracy from now on, becoming integral to countless lines of work.
Forbes ventures into interesting directions in a recent article. AI that writes code, called “Turingbots” (a nod to technology pioneer Alan Turing), will write 10% of worldwide code and tests in 2023. The job of software developer will then theoretically evolve into a complex combined role of manager and conductor. Codeless development tools will handle at least 30% of AI and automation initiatives by 2024, predicts IDC, helping to “scale digital transformation and democratize AI.”
AI is already well-established at optimizing workflows, handling an ever greater portion of routine user requests and deftly replacing manual processes or long waits for an agent with user-pleasing self-service. Bolder algorithms are enabling applications to leave the lab earlier and enter business with novel techniques like transfer learning—the application of knowledge gained from one task to help solve a different, but related, problem.
Reduce Go-To-Market Time, Elevate Accuracy, and Identify Patterns
Expect AI to continue proving its ability to enrich customer service, not only through smooth interactions across the omnichannel and more Alexa-like communication but through ingenious, ML-informed revenue opportunities. AI is uniquely able to not only fulfill customer demands and ease the employee burden, but to entice customer engagement based on previous purchases, driving upsell, cross-sell, and other profitable activities.
AI-generated insights enable swift action to fix a customer issue, improving turnaround time and effective resolutions manyfold. Working ceaselessly, AI reduces error margins and proactively identifies customer segments calling for immediate attention before they churn.
Such benefits will increase as more users engage efficiently through natural language interfaces and enjoy the automation of manual workflows, tasks and actions. For example, the ChatGPT system provides information in natural language through a conversational interface, allowing people to tap into the power of AI without needing costly scientific support or training.
Security Megatrends on the impact and need for AI
The latest data reinforces AI’s value in revolutionizing cybersecurity. No other technology can detect and preempt threats so effectively before they escalate into breaches. Security is indispensable, of course, but it’s also an entrepreneurial, lucrative industry—thanks to its ability to instantly recognize, analyze, and curate threat intelligence from millions of sources. AI security systems track patterns with needle-sharp accuracy and help stakeholders take proactive steps to deal with anomalies before they become disasters. Machine learning and natural language processing are key in dealing with the noise of countless alerts and distinguishing which should take priority—capabilities that manual triage cannot approach.
Shrink overhead, licensing and labor costs while boosting efficiency
Reducing overall administrative costs is one of AI’s most documentable benefits. CIO Dive notes that overall labor costs can tumble 33% and outsourcing costs 41% with AI. Adopting new technology while sundowning outdated, failure-prone legacy systems limits human error, boosts agility and speeds response—lowering resolution times while reducing energy usage. With less human oversight needed, AI not only cuts HR costs, but eliminates the lags afflicting workflows bogged down in dull, repetitive tasks.
AI delivers the resilience to ride out an unpredictable landscape
The convulsions of politics, war, weather and plague are only four of the challenges that confront businesses going forward, keeping markets chronically uncertain. From anticipating customer buying patterns to handling supply chain disruption, AI helps leaders identify how external factors can affect their companies, pointing the way forward. While AI won’t replace human ingenuity in 2023, it will certainly be indispensable to an enterprise survival kit during uncertain times like those we are encountering right now.
Addressing worker ambition and trepidation
The fascination for AI among the workforce is expanding and accelerating; companies purveying AI solutions can attract the brightest minds and highest achievers in digital talent. At the same time, there is uncertainty about AI’s ability to supersede worker skills and eliminate jobs. In 2019, 37% of workers between ages 18 and 24 worried about this—nearly 10% more than in any other demographic. Going forward, AI leaders bear the responsibility of addressing fears of job loss. Although most individuals (72%) understand that AI can free them from dull, routine tasks, 81% are unwilling to surrender even drudge work to an algorithm and go unemployed if it comes to that.
The persistent challenge of AI governance
Areas of ethical concern including privacy and surveillance, have followed AI from the very start. As the power of AI to play a part in decision-making expands, the moral responsibilities that accompany progress grow more prominent and persistent.
“AI not only replicates human biases, it confers on these biases a kind of scientific credibility,” says political philosopher, Michael Sandel. Enterprises need to commit to AI governance as a priority—publicly and accountably. AI’s presence is ubiquitous through Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al., but it is also vital in healthcare, banking, education, fintech and other industries.
As AI’s influence intensifies, C-suites must think beyond the bottom line—cost savings, efficiency, R&D—and address the need to safeguard societal good. Private companies are empowered to shape human prospects in health, employment, creditworthiness, criminal justice, and more. As AI expands in sophistication, and machine learning enables deeper analysis, avoiding structural biases or even their unintentional appearance, is essential.
Smart ways to board the AI express in 2023
For those companies lined up at the AI gate, ticket in hand, it’s never been easier to board the AI express. One smart route to ROI is to automate the “low-hanging fruit” of the chronically inefficient help desk and contact center. AI delivers the double relief of handling delay-and-error-prone manual tasks while enabling an efficient, pleasant customer experience. Automation replaces manual labor, while AI and ML make short work of researching, understanding, empathizing, and speeding self-service user resolution. Easily accessed knowledge bases and quick, accurate contextualization to the appropriate domain, make yesterday’s tedium a fading memory. AI extends relief not only to users, but to agents—freed now to explore fulfilling brain work rather than endure hours of monotonous ordeals.
Expect AI adoption to progress unevenly—but its trajectory is indisputably upward. As AI technology grows into new areas, it brings prosperity and productivity, along with a host of unavoidable uncertainties and responsibilities. Business leaders face a challenging horizon that’s evolving before their eyes. Their decisions will shape civilization not only in 2023 but far beyond.