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February 27, 2015

Enterprise should think more J.A.R.V.I.S. than Skynet when applying AI

Steve Mason Vice President of Mobility, EMEA at ClickSoftware looks into the implications of artificial intelligence.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Stephen Hawking has claimed Artificial Intelligence would be the greatest human achievement but quite possibly the last. His concerns hover on the potential for AI machines to design improvements to themselves that would eliminate the necessity of humans.

Yet fear should not be the overriding emotion when considering AI. We are a long, long way from the software we create suddenly adopting the genocidal tendencies we see played out in Hollywood time and again.
Enterprises would be better advised to embrace the advantages of implementing AI rather than try to shut it out. No technology in history has ever been successfully prevented and the benefits of AI are too significant to cower away from. There are serious gains to be made now and certainly in the future around improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs.

For example, towards the end of last year, IPsoft launched Amelia. Amelia has the ability to learn through reading, apply situational context to a task and adapt with the behaviour of her colleagues. She can be tasked with procurement processing, financial duties and devising leaner workforce shifts. Analysts at Gartner predict by 2017 managed services offerings like this that make use of autonomics and cognitive platforms will drive a 60 per cent reduction in the cost of services.

But this isn’t about replacing staff, rather more about freeing them from the more menial and time-consuming tasks that inevitably become a drain on resource. Having this in place will free staff up to get on with the day job, creating a virtuous circle where the AI performs a critical support function.

The dual benefit of AI can also impact the customer because it is able communicate with them on behalf of the business. Customers can be kept in the loop on the status of their goods or service without the need for human mediation. Deliveries for example will need to go through future human layers and that will reduce the potential for confusion. Not only can the assistant provide all the contact and order details, it can also alert the customer when the package is close. In the event of a delay, alternative routes can be suggested and then automatically communicated to the customer that there may be a short delay. It means the delivery person can focus on getting the package there as quickly as possible without needing to worry about letting the customer know or deliberating about a new route. It will make the whole process a slicker, better experience for all involved.

Fears of creating technology-driven unemployment are historically unfounded, yet the benefits of providing staff with better technological tools has been proven time and time again.

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