Today’s The Times supplement paper, Raconteur, was devoted entirely to artificial intelligence for business and featured content from industry leading companies, who detailed how the new technology will revolutionise business moving forward.

With artificial intelligence becoming of increasing importance in the business world, it’s clear that the hype surrounding the new technology for so many years was justified. Today’s Raconteur, a supplement to the The Times, was dedicated solely to exploring how artificial intelligence is changing the business world, and how it will continue to do so in the not-so-distant future. Featuring content from industry leaders such as Konica Minolta, Ayasdi, Volume Global, CognitiveScale, and a Q&A with Artificial Solutions’ Chief Strategy Officer, Andy Peart – who’ll be speaking at the AI Summit London – today’s Raconteur demonstrates what a vital pilar of industry artificial intelligence has already become.

There’s no question about it. Already 38% of businesses are using AI technologies in the workplace, and 88% of business that don’t currently use AI said they are using technologies that rely on the new technology. Even if companies aren’t currently incorporating AI directly into their business strategies, the vast majority of them are already doing so indirectly.

AI is a big deal

AI Business’ co-founder, George Kipouros, wrote an opinion piece within today’s Raconteur, in which he claimed that “more than 95 per cent of corporate leaders surveyed recognise AI as a big deal.” He went on to detail how “98 per cent perceive it as essential for their organisation.”

According to the first ever European survey on AI in business, “92 per cent of respondents see AI bringing improved efficiency across their board, 77 per cent expect to see a reduction in overall costs, while 66 per cent also anticipate enhanced accuracy in their operations,” wrote Kipouros, who concluded his opinion column by stating, “AI is still work in progress, but the fourth industrial revolution is happening now and trans- forming the future of business.”

Today’s Raconteur also featured an article from Konica Minolta, who are future-proofing the workplace through AI. The piece detailed how Konica Minolta is helping organisations and individuals managing the ever increasing burden of growing data by offering “a new approach to effective decision-making based on artificial intelligence and the internet of things.”

The article explained how Ada, a marketing executive, who’s having to struggle with information coming in from a myriad different devices and platforms, would be able to handle the ever increasing tide of information, and liaise with her teams in other locations around the globe with ease, thanks to Konica Minolta’s new AI platform, Workplace Hub.

The article, entitled ‘Cognitive Hub: the future of work’, ends with a quote from Dennis Curry, a senior director at Konica Minolta. “Cognitive Hub is currently at the prototype stage, but it represents the next generation of Workplace Hub devices. We still have a lot of work to do to deliver it, but Workplace Hub is already set to revolutionise the way in which we work by helping us to manage the rapid increase in de- vices, connections and information that we’re all presented with in the modern workplace.”

Can AI talk like a human?

Meanwhile, Artificial Solutions’ Chief Strategy Officer, Andy Peart, outlined in his Q&A how computers will be able to successfully emulate human conversation interaction through the use of the Teneo Analytics Suite. “It’s not just a question of them being more human-like, although we have created a new level of informal realism that is more tangible and can even be chatty if you want,” explained Peart.

“What we are actually building with Teneo is a computer brain that’s smarter – one that can automatically tailor communication based on each unique inter- action, one that can track historical interactions, such as human memory power, and one that has “meta-level” awareness of the rest of the world, albeit if that awareness is drawn from the internet.”

With many outspoken critics of AI, such as Elon Musk and Steven Hawking, it’s no wonder that Peart was asked whether we’re in danger of this new technology taking over the world. “We are already building computer intelligence with all the worst-case scenarios in mind,” he replied. “We, as humans, like to think we’re the smartest things on the planet. For now I think we’re all happy to keep it that way,” concluded Peart.

AI delivering excellent customer service

Volume Global’s article took a different approach. They highlighted how AI was going to help to deliver “lifelike interactions for five-star service.” They looked at how customers would shop in the future, and highlighted the fact that they would demand high-quality service from their AI chatbots, much like we currently do from sales assistants in luxury stores. “By deploying a conversational AI platform, you can create that wow factor while also giving customers what they need, when they need it, whenever and wherever they want,” explained Volume Global’s Chief Executive and Head of AI and Robotics, Chris Sykes.

According to the article, analyst firm, IDC, “predicts that by 2018, 20 per cent of major retailers will use AI to personalise the brand experience from awareness through to purchase.” This is where Volume Global’s AI platform, LUSY, becomes vital. “She can tell visitors all about the company, put them in touch with staff where relevant and direct them to collateral, such as white papers and videos, for more information.” Soon, Volume Global will incorporate facial recognition into LUSY, which will allow the AI to identify the customer’s mood. This added functionality would certainly help LUSY to deliver excellent customer service.

The article ends with a final word of advice from Mr. Sykes. “Think big, but start small. By beginning your AI journey now, you can make a head- start and earn that coveted loyalty luxury brands require.”

You can download a PDF version of today’s Raconteur by clicking the link here.