According to Gartner, artificial intelligence (AI) is not defined by a single technology but by an array of capabilities and research, from advances in algorithms to abundant computing power and advanced analytical methods such as deep learning. But for most of us, the AI experience doesn’t look like deep learning or sound like an algorithm. It sounds like the voice that responds from a smart speaker when we ask about the weather or to tune into a podcast.
A vast majority of CXOs are already relying on consumer technologies such as voice-activated digital assistants in their work, according to a recent survey by PwC. Imagine how much more powerful those virtual assistants could be with access to the collective knowledge of the enterprise and the ability to know individual users and what they need to work best. And imagine putting that power into the hands of users across the enterprise, in the meeting room, on a factory floor or in any device they use to do their jobs.
In fact, AI has the potential to democratize many applications that have been too costly and time-consuming to develop for individual functions and business lines. Machine learning is helping to create a highly personalized user experience in areas such as technical support. With AI, IT support can know who you are, where you are and which devices, applications and systems you use before you ask for help. And when you do ask for help, chances are you will be communicating with a bot.
Here are just a few examples of how AI is being put into the hands of users and transforming what’s possible.
- Bots in the post-app world: Gartnerpredicts that by 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development. In the “post-app era,” chatbots will be the face of AI and bots will transform the way apps are built, according to Gartner. Some bots are already capable of communicating with other bots to prompt actions, such as reordering parts or setting up meetings.
- Intelligent search: In the age of big data, all organizations face a common problem: how to make the best use of all that information. There is a quest to develop a magic button that will sort through all the structured and unstructured data available to the enterprise, to find meaningful connections, highlight patterns and predict possible outcomes. Cognitive engines can be trained to parse vast arrays of textual, visual and audio information just by asking.
- The conference room of the future:Fast forward a few years and envision sitting down in a meeting room with a table, a screen and speakers—much like any meeting room today. To book your meeting, you speak directly to the room, giving instructions on what will be discussed and presented, who will attend and how they will participate—virtually or in person. Sensors in the room, using facial recognition, will note who is attending and, using voice recognition, automatically transcribe the entire meeting—even when multiple people are talking at the same time. Attendees can bring up documents, blueprints or any other stored information simply by asking out loud.
- Mixed reality—changing the future of collaboration, engineering and training: If virtual reality represents a total immersion in a make-believe world, think of mixed reality as a more practical application of the same three-dimensional renderings, grounded in the real world—less Avatar and more holographic image of Tupac. For the enterprise, the ability to manipulate three-dimensional objects in a real space can make it possible for architects and engineers on different continents to look at a building blueprint and collaborate on its design. Interactive training modules can be designed with avatars crafted to help prepare employees for real-life situations. Three-dimensional, holographic representations of buildings, plants and equipment can save time and resources in everything from retooling machinery to repair work to disaster recovery.
Putting It All Together: The AI Platform
Publicis Groupe, the advertising and public relations giant, has spent the past year working very closely with its technology partner to develop Marcel, an AI platform designed to connect the group’s thousands of individuals and hundreds of agencies with one another and with the history and creative insights from the firm’s body of work, as well as with award-winning case studies from the broader advertising industry. The platform will be one way employees can contribute to ongoing projects or pitches, as well as learn more about clients and campaigns. Marcel will find and recommend people for specific projects, or they will be able to pitch ideas directly through the platform. Marcel will also have access to employees’ calendars and will be able to make recommendations that take the person’s workload and availability into account as well as that person’s experience and work preferences. Publicis also promises its employees that Marcel will cut time spent on tedious manual processes such as timesheets and expenses.