Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation two of the most important trends shaping the future and they are interconnected. These technologies are already having a major impact on industries across the globe, and their influence is only going to grow in the years to come.
Companies using AI and other types of automation use it at two main levels:
- Internal: their own operations (production, supply chains, distribution, customer service, etc.)
- External: product development or innovations being offered to their customers
AI is rapidly transforming the way businesses operate from customer service to manufacturing. Key benefits include relieving workers of low-level tasks, improving functional efficiency, and improving decision making quality and speed. For example, AI-powered chatbots are now being used to answer customer questions and resolve issues 24/7. Walmart is using an chatbot program from Pactum
to negotiate smaller contracts with operational suppliers, enabling thousands to be handled at one time, closing deals faster, and typically at a savings to the company. AI is also being used to develop new products and services, from self-driving cars and personalized medicine to new food items for a restaurant menu or retail line.
Automation is a related trend that is more machine-driven, but often relies on or benefits from innovations in AI software. Improvements to robots and other automated machines are allowing more tasks that could once only be done properly by humans to be automated. This is leading to increased productivity, efficiency, and safety. Automating low-level or more risky work frees up human workers for higher level operations and allows companies dealing with worker shortages to keep operations running throughout regular hours and even to extend hours of operation. For example, automated warehouses process orders, automated assembly lines work with increasing precision and accuracy, drones and robots make last-mile deliveries, and robots in restaurants
have been developed for tasks from taking and serving orders to cooking and assembling meals.
To achieve full benefits and to truly stay future-focused, companies also need to think about how AI and other types of automation will affect:
- what their customers will want or be looking for from them in terms of product and services
- how their customers will use their products
How will automation and AI use by CUSTOMERS impact what your company needs to provide? What will they need from you in order to succeed in this transition?
The Freedonia Group will continue to ask these and other questions of clients, customers, and each other to keep abreast of potential opportunities across industries.