Elevate Your Game

Outperform Conference | May 21 – 23

Register Today
News

The Self-Driving Business

By Geoff WebbForbes

When the Wright brothers created the design for their “Flyer,” they controlled the aircraft by directly connecting the pilot’s body to the structure of the aircraft. A hip cradle allowed pilot movements to warp the wings and change the position of the rudder, which enabled reasonable control and stability for the slow-flying early aircraft.

Over the past hundred years, aircraft have evolved far beyond the early flyer, allowing planes to now operate at the very extremes of aerodynamic performance. As a result of the demands of this kind of flying, computer systems have taken an increasingly important role in turning the input from the pilot into rapid, precise changes in the control surfaces of the plane.

Today we’re seeing the same evolution in the way businesses operate.

The explosive impact of trends such as the move to mobility, digitalization and social media has irrevocably changed the business/customer relationship model, making direct, personalized connections essential. At the same time, the emergence of highly disruptive technologies such as cloud, big data and internet of things (IoT) means that the complexities of those interactions and the speed of business operation are growing exponentially.

Just like a high-performance aircraft, businesses are now moving too fast to steer using traditional methods.

Humans now need to operate in partnership with technology to manage the complexity and speed of business decisions. Yet that very technology makes it even harder to manage all the data, all the interactions and the exploding rate of connectivity and communication.

The problem of managing this growth in complexity and speed of operations is why artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as one of the most powerful and transformative business technologies of a generation.

AI tools already operate at a variety of levels in businesses, especially in simplifying human-to-machine interactions or looking for patterns in large volumes of data to help do everything from detecting online fraud to tuning marketing emails. Look a little deeper under the covers, however, and you’ll see AI systems becoming more and more central to the strategic decision making processes of modern businesses.

This is especially true for organizations that need to manage complex business relationships through many different channels. It turns out that AI technologies are especially good at looking for things that humans might miss. AI turns up opportunities to tune the business and improve not just operational effectiveness but also open up entirely new lines of opportunity.

When businesses must manage thousands of products sold through multiple channels to many customers, humans often miss opportunities to more fully meet customer needs with additional products and services. They may not notice buying trends that imply customers are looking for something different. What happens is that both the business and customer end up unhappy with the relationship, and that’s not good for anyone.

AI systems, however, can process — and actually learn from — immense amounts of data to spot trends, needs and preferences far better than humans. And having spotted an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with a customer, they can offer suggestions to drive the business more effectively. Such systems are able to reach out directly to customers and business leaders and say, in effect, “Hey, don’t you think this would be a good idea?”

AI algorithms learn over time how and why the business-to-customer interactions occur, what works and what doesn’t. Given AI’s ability to process massive data lakes, they can learn from the equivalent of hundreds of man-year’s worth of business deals, giving them the kind of deep insight into business trends that no single human could ever hope to grasp.

In short, AI systems are moving away from simply answering questions asked by humans, to suggesting the kinds of questions humans should be asking. It’s a radical change because AI is changing from being a helpful assistant to becoming an increasingly equal partner in driving the business.

The results are much like the pilot of a modern, high-performance aircraft. Business leaders can focus on where the business needs to be headed while allowing AI systems to manage the small but often critical decisions about how to get there.

While we’re some ways off from having an AI presence at the boardroom table, the effects of machine learning insights are being felt more and more at a strategic level. In the future, faster and agiler businesses will run not just on data but also on the artificial intelligence capabilities to make sense of it all, no matter how fast the world is moving.

Previous

CPQ Podcast by Frank Sohn

Next

RGPD retex#6 : Pros, le RGPD dans un contexte international