By Nav Dhunay
CALGARY – Are you a fan of “Terminator,” “Battlestar Galactica,” or “War Games”? If so, you’ll remember that in each of these stories, the decisive turning point is when humanity turns its thinking over to the machines.
While the results will (hopefully) be far less disastrous, it’s true that one day, we’ll have to decide to let artificial intelligence take over tasks that were once performed exclusively by humans. But as a business owner, you should be thinking about what AI can do for you now.
Many people are understandably wary of putting computers in charge of key business functions. However, if you prepare for this transition properly, you can keep your fear to a minimum and make the change with minimal disruption. Through the following steps, you can pave the way toward a seamless transition to artificial intelligence:
Step One: Identify the obvious applications
Transitioning to AI is a process. Like any complex process, it’s best to start with the easiest changes and work your way forward. In this case, you need to figure out the simplest tasks that AI can perform for your company. You can then adopt AI applications for those tasks, gradually expanding them to do more as the technology improves. For many businesses, these tasks will include:
- Administrative Processes—Despite still being in an early stage of development, AI is already capable of carrying out a range of simple administrative processes. These include changing passwords, identifying key provisions in contracts and other legal documents, transferring data from phone and email records to secure databases, and reviewing billing information to make sure your company has been properly compensated. By replacing human administrators with AI, you can save your employees an enormous amount of time and effort while achieving swift cost reductions.
- Prospect Perceptions—AI applications have a unique ability to examine consumer behaviors and identify those who are likely to become customers. They can then be used to target those likely customers with ads and other marketing content.
- Client Engagement—The most advanced AI algorithms can have simple conversations with clients and recommend products and services to them. While such applications are still at an early stage of development, they nonetheless give you the ability to automate basic customer engagement tasks, freeing your staff up for more complex engagement.
Adopting AI for these tasks doesn’t just save you time and money. It also helps your staff get used to interacting with artificial minds. They will then have an easier time accepting AI as it plays a larger and larger role in your business, so you can make a smooth transition to fully incorporating artificial intelligence.
Step Two: Stocking up on data & services
Once you know what you want to use AI for, the next step is to gather the data, services, and other resources you need for artificial intelligence. While it’s common to think of AI solutions as standalone, they actually need a lot of external resources in order to function properly. In particular, if you want to train your AI solution to perform key cognitive tasks, you need large datasets full of information on those tasks. The more complex the activity, the more data you need.
Complex datasets like these aren’t easy to construct. They require the painstaking efforts of computer experts, who have to work for long periods of time to assemble them correctly. If you want to keep the cost and difficulty of incorporating AI to a minimum, you need to get a jump on putting these datasets together. You should thus start working on them as soon as you know what AI applications you want to incorporate first.
If your company doesn’t specialize in tech, you may not want to construct your own datasets. You’ll thus have to get them from a third party, which means that you have to connect with AI experts across the globe to construct one for you. You should start building those connections now so that the AI specialist you choose has as much advanced knowledge as possible. You can also connect with these specialists to purchase AI algorithms and other products and services necessary for making artificial intelligence work.
Step Three: Put a price on it
With the necessary tools in place, you can start incorporating artificial intelligence into your work processes. As you do so, try to estimate the value of this technology to your organization. You can do this by making a note of every task you no longer have to do thanks to AI, and figure out how much that task is work. For example, say an employee who makes $60 an hour takes 5 minutes to reset their password for accessing company systems; this means that resetting their password costs you $5. By adding up small costs like these, you can estimate the total value of AI for your company.
Putting a price tag on AI allows you to determine the ROI of this technology. The more money you save compared to what you spent on the technology, the more worthwhile it was for you to adopt it. This makes it easier for you to convince your partners, shareholders, lenders, employees, and all other stakeholders that you were right to have used AI technology. They’ll then support you when you incorporate it into other parts of your business, until artificial intelligence defines your entire company.
Nav is a Canadian tech entrepreneur and investor. He is the co-founder CEO of Imaginea Ai, a platform that democratizes artificial intelligence (AI) and puts it in the hands of every organization across the globe.