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Predicting the unpredictable: a future where AI and humans will be inseparable

By Fusun Fidan

Artificial Intelligence is not the next big thing it is here. And, it is getting people talking. Will robots steal our jobs? How much better can automation get? How fast will the change be? How can we compete and thrive in such a challenging environment?

Wikipedia defines artificial intelligence (AI)as ‘a subfield of computer science (CS) that deals with the construction and study of systems that can learn from data, rather than follow only explicitly programmed instructions.’ It sounds a little complicated, but the reality is simpler and in everyday life, we are already interacting with AI in many different forms: the products that our favourite ecommerce site recommends, the songs that our music streaming service thinks we might enjoy, the voice assistant that we use for practical questions. We have only started talking to our phones and giving instructions to voice assistants, but we have already become accustomed to the comfort of it.

AI has penetrated into our lives very fast and the number of ways in which it is being used is likely to continue to grow exponentially. Subcategories have emerged: assisted intelligence, augmented intelligence, automation and autonomous intelligence, among others. There is still more to explore and advance, but the perceived value of AI comes down to if we -as customers- are happy with what it is doing for us. We don’t really scrutinise whether or not the services we receive are provided by artificial intelligence, assisted intelligence, automation or real people. What we care about is finding the best solution to our problems.

Businesses are beginning to take AI seriously
The Adobe Global Digital Trends 2017 report shows that only 15% of companies are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. Many AI initiatives start with good intentions but lack the strong strategy and creative thinking required to succeed.

While AI is becoming an integral part of our personal lives, we are still exploring how businesses will and should benefit from it. What strategies they should follow? When used well, AI can deliver a better, personalised and predictive experience by respecting customers’ choice of privacy. But, this comes with a few challenges: justifying its business value up front, transforming operating models to ensure it actually adds value and, possibly most difficult, convincing an old business to take the risk and learn a new trick.

Where to start?
According to the ‘Customers 2020’ study by Walker, a customer intelligence consulting firm in the US, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

What role will AI play in this scenario? Like all the big business decisions, the process of deciding whether or not to embrace AI should start with a purpose. A strategy that will ensure the relevancy to the customers and a greater value. Considering the importance of customer experience, the real question businesses should ask themselves is: how can businesses use AI to deliver a happier value exchange for their customers?

Businesses have a great opportunity now to make the relationship between humans and AI a more meaningful one. Augmenting our decisions as individuals as well as business leaders, AI should be critical for enabling businesses to deliver better, richer, more delightful experiences by helping us make better-informed and smarter decisions.

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