Artificial intelligence is an increasingly important part of process management and decision-making.
Don’t worry; we’re not talking Skynet here—the machines aren’t taking over or making critical business decisions for you. However, they remove a lot of tedium from processes to free human minds for critical thinking, customer-facing tasks that build relationships, and creative problem solving that supports future growth.
Growth of AI in Recent Years
Over the past decade, news cycles have increasingly included stories about artificial intelligence and machine learning. Many people have come to rely on these technologies — possibly without even realizing it.
Chances are everyone has, at one point or another, interacted with a chatbot. If you’ve ever navigated to a webpage where a chat window opens immediately, and someone proceeds to greets you and offers to answer any questions. In this case, the chances are good that “Sam” or “Cassandra” or name the chat displays, is actually a bot.
Those bots are programmed to provide basic answers to questions, including business location, services offered, goods available, or ways to obtain additional information. They might also transfer someone to a live chat representative if the AI doesn’t have the answer or capability to deal with an issue.
Chatbots are just one way that AI has slipped quietly and ever-more-presently into the regular world.
The Perception of AI for Businesses: 2017
SugarCRM surveyed in 2017 to find out how businesses were indeed approaching AI and data-driven processes. Was AI only a media darling creating exciting stories to feed ratings? Or is it, as chatbots and other technology seemed to indicate, something that’s becoming an integral and necessary part of everyday consumer relations and business processes?
Here’s what the 2017 survey numbers indicated:
- Most businesses were using or planned to use AI. Around 63% said they were going to implement new AI strategies in the near future. Only approximately 15% had a rigid no approach to AI in 2017.
- Business leaders and others did see the value of investing in AI. Those in the U.S. saw potential benefits that AI could bring to customer communication as well as efficiency and planning.
- Most people saw the most significant value in machines that could learn and parse information, potentially for big data use. Respondents to the 2017 SugarCRM survey only rated chatbots as somewhat helpful, while they rated technologies surrounding machine learning, natural language processing, and voice-activated digital assistants as potentially very helpful.
- People were wary of AI, with concerns revolving around trust. But the issue wasn’t that machines might take over; it was that machines might make mistakes with data or that the use of AI might put data security at risk.
- Some people did fear AI would lead to job cuts. Around 30% of respondents did list job loss as a fear related to artificial intelligence, but this was rarely a top concern for anyone.
Not surprisingly, younger survey participants were less likely to be worried about AI and more likely to embrace automation and other machine learning aspects. People who were age 55 or older said they worried about having so many features—many they might not even need—that they would become overwhelmed and not be able to efficiently use the tools required to do their jobs.
In 2017, when SugarCRM conducted this survey, most businesses were in an early adoption stage for AI. Yes, people saw the benefits and potential need. But not everyone was willing to go all-in on the technology, and many people still had worries and fears about it.
The Reality of AI for Businesses: Present Day
A lot can change in just a few years, especially when you’re talking about technology and data. It’s no longer a choice for businesses to integrate AI, and it now powers more and more—companies must adapt or be left behind. Here are just a few reasons why.
Consumers Expect High Levels of Personalization
We live in an instantaneous culture, a Netflix culture, and we don’t just mean concerning binging television shows. We’re talking about the consumer’s ability to turn on a device—a television, a computer, a smartphone—and get whatever entertainment or information they want, often without even doing anything.
- Netflix serves up personal recommendations.
- Spotify offers playlists explicitly curated for each listener’s tastes and behaviors.
- Amazon picks a few items out of its seemingly endless catalog that matches a shopper’s behavior patterns.
- Google delivers the stories and news each person seems to most want right on their home screens.
If your business isn’t able to curate for consumers, to take some of the work out of the process for them, it’s going to be a letdown. And that’s true even if the consumer isn’t aware of it. For most people, this customization has become an integral way of life.
Agile Processes Are More Competitive
Businesses that can’t pivot around corners tend to lose their way or even collide with oncoming forces. In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 taught this lesson swiftly and well: Companies that weren’t prepared to pivot quickly to offer safer services, such as online orders or curbside pickup, faltered, and many failed. Simultaneously, businesses that were poised to promptly send their employees home to work and still manage customer experience and other processes with help from machine learning were more able to hold the line in the face of these obstacles.
You Must Plan for Tomorrow Today
AI doesn’t just let you develop and manage agile business processes. It can also help you plan for the future, whether that’s making business predictions and decisions to set up next month’s successes or simply predicting what your customer will need tomorrow so you can prepare to meet that need today.
SugarCRM is always planning for tomorrow, and we’ve built tools to help you do the same. That includes HD-CX, the promise of our time-aware customer experience platform that allows you to capture massive amounts of data and feed it into an intuitive system that returns predictive insights to fuel your best business decision-making.
To find out more about our offerings, including HD-CX, request a demo or contact us today.