The world in which we live is changing at a rapid pace, and it has been doing so for a few years now. Whilst the future predicted in the 1980s still seems far off (flying cars, holographic TVs and robotic servants) there are a few noteworthy inventions that have added a splash of excitement to everyday life, proof that the future is more than just a time concept, but a movement towards better technology.
Today, the future has been brought one step closer with the advent of artificial intelligence. This next wave of technology sits alongside the likes of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and self-driving cars as one of the marvels of the current era. Before one can fully appreciate how technology changes the world around us, it is important to have a working knowledge of the matter. Words like “Big Data”, “Machine Learning” and “Artificial Intelligence” are simply thrown around as buzzwords. However, a deeper look into the jargon reveals more than what meets the eye.
EXPLAINING THE JARGON
Simply put, Artificial Intelligence is any action done by a machine that analyzes the external environment and reacts accordingly. More loosely defined: AI is anything that a machine accomplishes which mimics cognitive ability. Should a computer identify an object out of an image, that would be considered as artificial intelligence. It owes its existence to academic research all the way back in 1956, and the main categories of intelligence are statistical methods, computational intelligence, and symbolic intelligence. Each of these may be applied in varying ways to different causes.
Big Data refers to any data set that is too large for traditional software to manage. Thus, it usually requires specialized algorithms to unlock the potential within. Although this may seem somewhat of a boring topic when compared to AI, it is nonetheless no less essential. If AI is the vehicle, Big Data is the diesel which keeps it moving forward. Due to the sheer volume of the data available, Big Data is used in a variety of circumstances. When used effectively, it can provide extremely valuable insight, some which lead to innovations that we have never even dreamed of.
APPLYING THE TECHNOLOGY: MAKING MAGIC
Technological companies are on the rise, and the internet is the place to be for both consumers and businesses. Information technology, in particular, is in every household across the globe; it is a connection which we all share. In fact, information technology has become so popular that it is now the face of all technology, synonymous with it.
Online marketing has thus become a crucial daily interaction with the world. Anyone in any industry has access to the clients provided they play their cards correctly. To help this process, AI was introduced as a promotional tool. This was actually one of the first uses of the tech. Based on the search data of the individual, AI uses the available data to promote products, services or brands that are most likely to be of interest to the user. Interfaces such as YouTube and Vimeo use a similar algorithm, which takes the previously watched videos into account when providing adverts and a ‘suggested’ column.
Management decision making is where it all starts and ends for a business; it is the determinant of endless success or the factor behind dismal failure. In an increasingly globalized world, competition in industries makes decision making even more crucial. The baker no longer has to compete with the other bakery down the road. Instead, he must find a way to differentiate himself from a large multinational that produces mass-baked goods from a centralized location with extremely low average costs. Big Data has helped to alleviate some of the issues, as it provides a credible source of data from which consumer patterns, needs, and desires may be found. Add AI to the concoction, and the data is presented in an easily usable format, making the process of honing a business model to a profitable venture even easier.
Data collection has come under scrutiny in the last few years. Moreover, there have been a number of legal standards developed which ensure the privacy of user information, such as the standards which called into account Facebook’s sale of data for commercial use to businesses within the USA. Despite these concerns, the gathering of data for a third party is a completely new industry still to be developed. Perhaps internet service providers may become initiators of market research, using Big Data and AI to solve many of the problems associated with finding sufficient information. One thing is for certain: the demand for data scientists is sure to increase in the near future.
Physical retail stores may not always seem like the best place to implement AI. However, the nuances of running an outlet are often so difficult to control that the little details add up to major problems. Those who are able to control it well arrive at a model that resembles an I-store or Tesla Motors Dealership. These outlets are rewarded with great financial reward, but the opposite is also true: a retail presence that fails to control the variables is bound to fail at some point. At best, mediocrity awaits. Artificial intelligence allows for a better control of the details surrounding a successful retail experience. From proper stock inventory, sales projections and procurement to protecting assets, informing management of suspicious behavior and avoiding inefficiencies in labor, the application of AI in the retail space is simply exciting. In the future, it should allow for greater control from a centralized location.
Problems are only challenges if met with the right mindset and the tools with which to overcome them. AI and Big Data have become a powerful combination that effectively changes the way industries view daily operations. Whether it relates to enhancing the customer experience or developing completely new products to market, the basic value-adding proposition remains the same. AI is here, and it’s here to stay. How it is used to add value is yet to be fully discovered; hopefully, these provide a few ideas with which to build on.