Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon transform the way we work

With recent developments like the launch of Facebook’s chatbot store, Apple’s acquisition of Emotient, and the release of Viv, a virtual assistant from the founders of Siri, there’s no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) has started to quickly proliferate across consumer applications.

Nonetheless, many of these new applications are still more novelty than necessity as their functionality is rudimentary at best, though we’ve come to rely on them daily – from Amazon product recommendations to Facebook facial recognition (auto tagging).

Until consumer-facing AI can usher in new technological advancements that provide deeper and more human-like interaction, it still has a long way to go before it reaches its tipping point. Enterprise AI, however, offers immediate applications that help solve problems that many companies and workers face today, such as data overload. Companies across a wide range of industries have already taken advantage of AI capabilities in order to help improve both internal and external processes.

Recent developments in AI

Deloitte Global predicted more than 80 of the world’s 100 largest enterprise software companies will have integrated cognitive technologies into their products by the end of 2016. Accordingly, the market for enterprise AI applications is projected to increase from $202.5 million (£140m) in 2015 to $11.1 billion (£7.5bn) by 2024, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 per cent. This immense growth rate is quickly making AI one of the hottest topics in enterprise software.

This year alone, many B2B software companies have announced AI-related acquisitions, such as Salesforce’s buyout of MetaMind, which provides deep learning technologies, and Lendify’s acquisition of Mentio Technologies, which automates cash flow forecasting. These recent acquisitions prove that there is tremendous value in enterprise AI; it will soon become an integral part of many enterprise operations.

With such rapid growth in enterprise AI, we’re sure to see a rush of companies entering the space. Every major vertical, from sales and marketing to HR, has the potential to be enhanced by AI. Companies such as Digital Genius – which recently raised $4 million (£3m) – develops AI solutions that will help make customer service agents superhuman.

In the medical field, a company called Wellframe – which makes software to help healthcare providers – recently launched a new AI-based software solution to help provide better care for patients. The AI program works by customising treatment solutions for each patient, each with their own set of specific needs and attributes. With the help of AI software that is easily scalable, patient care is entirely improved efficiently and in a customised manner.

Google, who has been investing heavily in AI development for both consumers and enterprises, recently announced the roll out of Springboard, a new AI-powered digital assistant to help employees make better use of Google Apps by providing actionable information that users would be likely to need throughout their workday.

Others like Microsoft and IBM are helping to advance development in AI by creating a range of new cognitive application program interfaces (APIs). These APIs allow companies to utilise state of the art algorithms in the areas of speech, vision and natural language to build and integrate advanced AI-powered features into their products.

For instance, Microsoft’s Computer Vision API allows programs to automatically recognise, sort and categorise images based on their content. Another example is IBM’s Alchemy API, which provides news trend analysis and allows programs to run through more than 300,000 publications to extract relationships and sentiment about specific topics.

Future applications for AI

The business functions that prove most challenging for AI users today are those that require creative skills, such as brand marketing. But what really makes brand marketing so unique that only humans can be great at it? Not much. Savvy marketers create compelling and effective branding by conducting extensive market research, taking a close pulse of the latest trends and developing multiple solutions that take these insights into account. Marketers then refine these insights continually until the best concept is chosen. With enough computing power and data, these existing barriers will be broken and new specialties will be developed.

As AI programmes become more widespread among enterprises, users will be able to develop other programmes that specialise in nearly all functional areas and have an entire marketplace of AI programmes from which to pick from and utilise for any business need. Once a marketplace has been established, the next evolution of AI will come from collaborative technology, where AI programmes will be able to integrate seamlessly and work together to solve even more complex multifunctional challenges. These programmes will work together and exchange information instantaneously to solve problems in the same way team members collaborate to find solutions in today’s world.

Over the next decade, it’s entirely possible that entire business divisions will be run by AI programmers with minimal human oversight. Enterprise AI will eventually become an arms race across all industries and in order to keep up, every business will need to make sure they have the capabilities to create, guide, teach and own the best AI programmes possible.

Jon Lee, entrepreneur and co-founder/CEO of ProsperWorks

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