Today, business operations have undergone a tremendous change. The pandemic has fast-forwarded innovation and pushed organizations to scale up their technological advancements We already have several rapid business transformation stories with technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) as the prime ally.
Innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) are critical in helping businesses enhance their workflow, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies. However, even with their relative success, implementing AI and ML into everyday business is a daunting prospect for some. Several organizations are still struggling with the application of these innovative technologies and wondering about the value they drive. One of the primary barriers that hinders the adoption of AI in businesses is the fear of the unknown. A Gartner study on barriers to AI adoption indicated that most businesses are unsure about the AI benefits and its actual workplace usage. As such, quantifying the advantages of AI projects presents a major setback for business and IT leaders. Even though some benefits, such as revenue increase or time saved, can be quantified with well-defined values, others, like customer experience, are significantly difficult to measure.
AI: Clearing the clutter
AI and its applications must be viewed through the lens of business impact. There are three significant ways of AI implementation that can generate value - automating business operations and processes, engaging with employees and customers, and garnering insights through data analysis. Even though business leaders today are trying to solve industry challenges through AI solutions, it’s not enough to simply jump to the AI bandwagon. Before introducing AI to solve business challenges, it’s critical to identify the processes and obstacles that demand reformation. This is where human judgment becomes a powerful tool to determine the implementation sweet spot.
What makes AI and related technologies like ML powerful allies are the endless possibilities to drive agile innovation, especially in the face of a disruption where sustainability is determined by the successful adoption of futuristic technology. This is bolstered by a survey conducted by McKinsey in 2020, where respondents from different industries attributed 20 percent or more of their organizations’ earnings (before interest and taxes - EBIT) to AI.
The pandemic has also proved itself a catalyst for AI drive across industries. Appen's State of AI 2020 Report shows that 41 percent of companies increased their AI strategies to combat the fallout of the COVID-19.
Taking AI-spiration from success stories
Education: As the pandemic spread and classrooms went online, AI-powered smart-learning tech took over. Educational institutions are increasingly deploying AI to make classrooms smarter, produce personalized digital content, and impart better learning habits across all stages. For instance, a Sydney-based school used AI to automate its roll-call process and saw higher attendance and data accuracy.
Retail: Retail is one of the most significant segments where AI witnessed a credible boom. From enhancing supply chains to personalizing shopping and breaking away from the ‘one size fits all’ model, AI has come a long way. By deploying AI, retail companies can significantly augment their supply chain with accurate forecasting, assortment, allocation optimization, demand planning, and return optimization.
Amazon recognizes the promise of AI in back-office upgradation—which naturally translates into heightening the customer experience. Amazon also uses AI with ML to offer buyers shopping recommendations based on their past purchases.
M&E: The global Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry is undergoing a rapid transformation in terms of content distribution. The increasing pervasion of content creation tools, such as high-resolution cameras, content-creation applications, and smartphones, has led to mass creation, publication, and distribution of different content types. And with 5G in play, these numbers are only expected to increase.
AI is helping media companies out in several ways. For example, to manage content with the help of AI-based video intelligence tools that analyze video content, frame by frame, and identify objects to add relevant tags.
Leading content companies also use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze behavioral data and learn customer preferences. Netflix, for instance, uses ML algorithms to help viewers find new shows based on their past watching preferences. This is done by analyzing detailed threads within the content instead of basing it on just broad genres to make predictions. Todd Yellin, VP of Product at Netflix, explained this to users by comparing this method with a three-legged stool. Yellin told the Wired, “The three legs of this stool would be Netflix members, taggers who understand everything about the content, and our machine learning algorithms that take all of the data and put things together."
Unsurprisingly, the global AI market in M&E is expected to grow from US$1.8 billion in 2018 to US$8.4 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 30.0% during the forecast period.
Telecommunication: There is a surge of interest in AI deployment in telecom as well. Global traffic and the quantity of network equipment are both growing exponentially, making networks expensive, sluggish, and difficult to manage. AI can help optimize and automate networks by keeping them robust and secure while reducing operational costs at the same time.
AI can also enable predictive maintenance. Albeit it is an essential and more behind-the-scenes use of AI and ML, predictive maintenance still equips telecoms with data-driven insights. This lets them supervise equipment, learn from historical information, foresee equipment failure, and proactively fix it, to drive a better customer experience.
Shaping the AI journey
As the success stories portray, AI has been a major force across industries. However, to gain the most from AI, it's best to see it as a means-to-an-end rather than the conclusion itself. AI is what makes the entire journey seamless and shapes favorable outcomes.
For years now, HCL Ideapreneurs have been partnering with clients toward AI realization to fulfill their business goals. In this venture, they have supported numerous organizations across industries to gain tremendous business value out of their AI investment. Within the telecom, media and entertainment verticals – the teams have leveraged deep AI expertise with domain proficiency to deliver tangible business outcomes. The Ideapreneurs helped an educational organization automate and transform their assessment processes that allowed the exponential scaling of their digital operations. They have also assisted various media companies in the implementation of bi-directional smart video solutions to digitize the physical process and ensure rich content availability through the pandemic. Moreover, for a global wireless distribution and services company, HCL Ideapreneurs helped in designing a document forgery detection solution, enabling the company to automate and identify cases with high accuracy.
Even though these progress stories illustrate how AI can continue to be a driver for business transformation, the full extent of its powers is only realized in conjunction with human judgment and intelligence. This is where HCL's centers of excellence help shape the minds that make AI implementation a winning proposition. Future-faced organizations must thus partner with the right technology experts to successfully embrace the AI journey, transform their business and stay ahead in the game.