I’m having a lot of discussions lately. Being an IT person, known for their go-against-the-rules attitude, I’ve always had them, but the last couple of months it feels like I’m extra busy. Many of my discussions seem to revolve around artificial intelligence, or their added value, to be more exact. I’m a huge AI believer, but many of the people I talk to couldn’t care less. I don’t blame them. So many business owners and CIOs have been covered with buzzwords, hypes and well-meant advice, that they run away as soon as they hear the words “you need this”. Especially for them, I listed a couple of interesting applications of artificial intelligence. So they can decide for themselves (read: wake up and start loving AI).
Artificial intelligence explained
Many people fear artificial intelligence. I think this is due to the fact that they can’t wrap their mind around it. Because what is AI really? Pretty much every organization, magazine, website and influencer has its own definition, varying from tailored promotion to a world flooded with robots that outsmart us. Especially the last definition scares us, as this means AI could become dangerous or at least take our jobs (47% of them, if you believe Oxford University). I always find truth somewhere in the middle. Or in Harvard Business Review, if you will. In one of their recent articles, Satya Ramaswamy explained AI is on the rise, but will focus on machine-to-machine transactions rather than human activities. By making computers think like humans, they can improve these transactions and provide our customers with better services. This makes them better computers, not better humans. And that’s good news to many sectors, such as banking, recruitment, agriculture, healthcare and transit.
AI in banking
The financial industry has drastically changed. Digital banking has become wildly popular, customers have gained more insights into the way bankers handle their personal data and the PSD2 regulation has opened up a whole new world of competition. This means banks have to take on a new role if they want to be of any significance to their customers. They have to start being helpful, available, relevant and offer more freedom and convenience than their competitors. Famous examples are online banking apps for smartphones, emotionally intelligent robots that deal with customer questions and requests in real time, and tools that analyze banking behavior to personalize services and offers. On a larger scale, AI can be deployed to conduct better stock analyses and predictions.
AI in recruitment
Sectors like IT suffer from understaffing, as specific skills are needed for specific jobs. Recruiters do their best trying to find the crème de la crème of IT professionals, but they only have two hands. Computers have none, but with AI they don’t need any. A smart computer is able to analyze a huge amount of data on company details, culture codes, hiring trends and job offers so the right person can be matched with the right company. Second, smart computers can analyze job descriptions that have been successful in the past and use this information to create the ultimate job offer. As the writing skills of computers leave something to be desired, a human eye is still needed for the final touch, taking away worries on employment.
AI in agriculture
Farmers no longer own five cows and a chicken. They are entrepreneurs with many acres of land that need to be farmed or a livestock that needs to be kept healthy and productive. With artificial intelligence, farmers are now able to grow better crops and look after their animals while saving time and energy. Drones monitor the condition of the soil and determine whether it needs watering or seeding, while sensors in and around cows check their health and nutrition. Cameras monitor vegetables and fruit and are being taught to recognize irregularities or problems such as dehydration and unwelcome insects. All of this data can be used to predict the perfect time to harvest, or to estimate total milk production in the long term. This information, in turn, helps farmers to save out on costs for energy, cattle feed, lighting and water.
AI in healthcare
When it comes to AI, the healthcare sector has proven to be a forerunner. This is not surprising, as the people working in this sector are expected to save lives as fast and as efficient as possible. AI is no game to them: they desperately need it and it shows. Many famous applications of artificial intelligence in healthcare include data management and analyses. Thanks to the Electronic Patient Record and machine learning, caregivers are now able to predict disease outcomes based on information about symptoms, patterns and lifestyle. This not only improves treatment plans of their own patients: AI in healthcare has the power to improve population health in general. Second, AI can be found in more and more devices such as heart rate monitors and insulin pumps. Not to mention the many medical apps that offer health assistance to clients without the interference of a doctor.
AI in transit
The transit sector faces the challenge of transporting billions of people per day while reducing delays and improving rider experience. Therefore, some of the cleverest applications of artificial intelligence can be found here. Transit providers attach sensors to their trains, trams and buses to predict wear and tear and to avoid accidents. They notify travelers of free seats, wheelchair accessibility and alternative routes in case of a roadblock. In the car, AI is deployed to provide the driver with real time information on traffic jams, accidents, weather conditions and estimated time of arrival. And what about the most obvious application of AI: the self-driving car? Soon, drivers will turn into passengers of their own cars, thanks to smart computers that take them everywhere they want- safe, comfortable and in time.
As you can see, applications of artificial intelligence that are actually being used can be found everywhere. Some of the examples I wrote about may be open doors to you, some of them may be new. What they have in common, is their ability to improve products and services that in turn improve the lives of your customers. This means AI is more than a hype and could make the difference between company survival and company success.
What do you think AI will do for your sector? Leave a comment below!
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