A Passion for the Mission…

Five AI Opportunities Worth Exploring

Everyone knows artificial intelligence is going to shape the world in the coming decade. That’s why the U.S. and China are in a war to see who can develop AI fastest, and companies such as Google and Salesforce are racing against startups to do the same thing in their respective business domains. AI hasn’t shaken things up in a big way quite yet—but it is coming.

“SMBs are much more nimble than large enterprises, so they should take advantage of this to integrate emerging forms of AI into their business faster,” he says.

If your business is one of those still looking at the opportunities around AI, here are five areas you should be exploring.


  1. Developing Automations

    The opportunities around automation have existed for years. The problem is that spotting the opportunities and setting them up often are complex, so businesses typically miss many of the opportunities for streamlining business processes with automation.

    AI can help.

    “Businesses can use AI to improve automation in their processes,” says Mahesh Varavooru, founder of AI consultancy, WildFire. “Current RPA-based automation is dumb. Using machine learning and AI, automation can become smart.”

    By pointing deep learning algorithms at the everyday tasks performed by employees, businesses can have AI suggest automations for improved efficiency. In some cases, they even can have AI set up the automations.

    2. Predicting the Perfect Time for Sales and Support

    AI is good at finding patterns in a sea of data. One opportunity for this capability is using AI for discovering the best times to send marketing messages, or reach out to a neglected customer, or offer a sales promotion.

    “You can use AI to predict which customers are about to churn, or to optimize your app/platform usage,” says Richardt.

    For example, he notes, you could discover that the best time to send loyal customers is on a Friday night when they are most likely to be hungry but not wanting to cook.

    “Discovery of these opportunities can be automated with AI,” he notes.

    3. Segmenting Customers Intelligently

    The competition for a customer’s attention is fierce. There’s both more marketing ninjutsu all around, and more exasperation from customers who are blitzed constantly by marketing messages. Standing out in this environment can be hard.

    As a result, savvy businesses are starting to use AI for pinpoint customer segmentation far beyond the basic segments a human can manually create. Think about how Google and FaceBook target ads to each individual customer, and now apply this to all areas of marketing.

    “Machine learning can help organizations segment their customers better to understand who they are,” stresses Varavooru. “This can help in cross-sell and upsell opportunities.”

    4. Predicting Maintenance Needs

    A less sexy but equally important opportunity for businesses from AI today is using the technology for predictive maintenance. AI can spot when equipment needs repair or routine maintenance.

    Cognitive anomaly detection and prediction helps AI uncover when performance is declining for a piece of equipment, a sign of wear or malfunction. It also can harness data on when equipment under similar conditions has historically started to fail, another sign that preemptive repair or maintenance might be necessary.

    Companies in the trucking industry and those in manufacturing are some of the early adopted of this use case for AI, reducing downtime and hardware failures that can cost a business money and frustrate customers.

    5. Creating Better Customer Profiles

    There’s a lot of information about customers online, and this goes well beyond what FaceBook and Google are collecting.

    There’s a huge opportunity right now for combining AI with what some have called “open source intelligence,” datasets publicly available online such as census data, economic data, and public tax data, among others.

    “The availability of public datasets means that you can do enhanced targeting much better,” says Richardt.

    “Organizations must harvest the publicly available data and merge it with their own datasets,” he notes. “Insurance companies can use open source financial information to find cities to target. Real estate companies can use open source property information to find geographic areas to target. Very sophisticated, highly targeted online advertising can be created to connect niche products to niche users.”

    Much of this opportunity for AI in business is known but not yet realized. The same survey by the Boston Consulting Group that found business leaders bullish on AI also uncovered that only 23 percent had already incorporated AI into their business models.