Previously science fiction, this is now becoming reality. The way businesses operate is being rapidly revolutionised by artificial intelligence (AI).
However, many businesses are unsure of how to use AI effectively. AI may automate tedious and time-consuming tasks, boost output, enhance security, and save operating costs for businesses.
This week on Let’s Talk, we talk about what AI can actually do for your business and how to utilise it to enhance product services, streamline workflows, and boost productivity.
Jason Toshack, VP & GM ANZ, Oracle NetSuite
“Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are realising the value of artificial intelligence to support automation with notable improvements in productivity and efficiency. Business software with built-in AI can now provide the insights you need to make the right decisions in a rapidly changing environment.
“For instance, automating repetitive or time-consuming processes can provide an immediate time-saving benefit. Additionally, automating financial processes can cut month-end close from weeks to days, helping free up your teams to focus on higher-value tasks.
“Ultimately, A.I. can be applied across many key business functions. Sales teams can more accurately forecast demand, operations teams can identify potential supply chain challenges and the finance team can better predict cash flow. AI can make processes faster and more consistent, reduce costs and improve compliance.”
Natalie Rouse, General Manager, Eliiza
“There is no doubt that AI and machine learning (ML) can have a significant tangible impact on the success of a business. AI can be used to solve business challenges, identify new opportunities and improve customer experience. The 2020 Global AI Survey from McKinsey & Co. reported that 22 per cent of companies using AI said the technology accounted for over 5 per cent of their 2019 earnings before interest and taxes. Additionally, revenue generated by AI increased year over year in the majority of the business functions using AI technologies.
“We are committed to supporting our clients to adopt AI technologies for the betterment of their businesses and the wider community in which we exist together. To this end, we would urge anyone considering an AI project to also consider the adoption of ethical development practices to ensure any potential harms are identified and appropriately mitigated whenever we work with data relating to humans, animals or the environment.”
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small Business, Salesforce
“The mass migration to digital services has led to significant challenges and opportunities for small businesses, particularly around customer service and sales. One way Aussie SMBs are overcoming these challenges is through AI.
“AI’s capabilities are more accessible than ever for SMBs, from automating manual tasks to sourcing actionable insights from your data. Solutions such as integrating chatbots into your website or app to answer frequently asked questions can allow your workers to focus on more dynamic customer queries and ensure you’re still delivering personalised and authentic service.
“One example of this is hospitality ordering and payment platform start-up, me&u. With the company growing, scaling customer support was becoming a significant challenge — compounded by its customers being busiest when its staff members are off the clock. By integrating chatbots, me&u can now instantly and automatically provide its customers with the answers they need.”
Graeme Pyper, Director of APAC Channels, BlackBerry
“AI and automation are increasingly used in digital solutions to perform routine tasks and drive efficiencies. For cybersecurity, AI can take the pressure off businesses trying to protect their systems in today’s volatile threat landscape.
“BlackBerry’s 2022 Threat Report found SMBs suffer about 13 threats per device, far more than larger enterprises. AI security solutions identify and stop threats (whether known or unknown) before they can execute. They are lightweight and don’t require constant updates – which means less time responding to alerts, and more time your team can spend on higher-value work.
“For teams without internal IT resources, a managed Extended Detection and Response (XDR) service can arm SMBs with enterprise-grade skills and 24/7 threat monitoring in a shared service model, at a fraction of the cost. Using AI cybersecurity tools as a force multiplier, XDR gathers threat intelligence across the entire attack surface, contextualised to improve response actions. This significantly eases the burden upon management and staff. Using AI-enabled cybersecurity will not only protect data and devices (including mobiles), it will also help SMBs save time and money.”
Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President ANZ, Kofax
“With businesses currently experiencing record-high staff shortages, any process that can alleviate pressure and gain valuable time back into a worker’s day has the potential to see great benefits.
“AI has the capability to power other tools such as intelligent automation (IA), which uses the output of AI’s decisions and incorporates them into a touchless workflow that analyses quality, checks fault rates, and raises a warning if it detects something wrong.
“Implementing IA in basic workflows and work tasks such as accounts payable and receivable saves your business time and money – without compromising security, accuracy, and transparency. Further, automating accounts processing means information can be validated, only requiring human oversight in the event of a vetting issue, eliminating fraudulent documents.
“Not only will your staff be grateful they don’t have to spend their valued time completing monotonous data entry, but automation also allows businesses to handle higher volumes of work in less time, ultimately helping to drive profitable growth.”
Darren Reid, Director of Security Business Unit, VMware
“Given the rise in cyberattacks like ransomware, companies are hyper-aware that they need to invest in adequate cybersecurity systems to keep their businesses safe. The most powerful cybersecurity systems combine human expertise with artificial intelligence to stop more attacks in less time.
“Cyber security that uses AI can effectively detect malicious activity and quickly block the movement of sophisticated threats before they cause business damage. The insights provided by AI technology assist with Extended Detection and Response (XDR), helping businesses rapidly respond to ransomware and advanced threats.
“Using AI, Security Operation Centres (SOCs) can quickly classify advanced threat campaigns by mapping out threat activities. This provides direct assistance for the response team to seek out and interrupt any instances of a threat within the company’s environment. Not only is the security process enhanced, but this collaboration between individuals and AI can also help alleviate the work volume on SOC teams.”
Jonathan Ryan, Regional Manager APAC, Infobip
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful element in setting a business’s Customer Service (CS) and Customer Experience (CX) apart. When integrated into their CX and CS strategies, customer loyalty, retention and satisfaction is through the roof. Consider what AI chatbots have to offer; effective 24/7 personalised support to customers, lifting the burden of basic enquiries, freeing your customer service team to give their full attention to the complex issues.
“The beauty of implementing AI is that it grows to reflect your customer’s needs. It’s possible to design and implement a conversational experience within your customer journey – you’d barely realise you’re talking to a computer. Giving customers the option to engage directly with an AI chatbot to guide them from first contact to final conversion over multiple channels, all in the same conversation, allows your business the chance to focus on more complex stuff, while keeping your customer base engaged.”
Brent Paterson, managing director ANZ, SNP
“Digital transformation underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI) has accelerated beyond visionary and is now mission-critical for organisations of all sizes, with touchpoints in virtually every facet of business. An informal SNP survey has found that 97 per cent of organisations are now investing in AI and big data to enable the intelligent enterprise for a competitive advantage.
“In the digital economy, AI is vital to improving business efficiencies, providing deeper data insights, reducing the risk of errors and, in some cases, AI can reduce IT costs by up to 80 per cent. The secret to success is to treat organisational data as an enterprise asset and use AI capabilities, which far outweigh human capabilities, to maximise the untapped potential from your business and customer data. The right AI can become the glue that lets your organisation integrate information from across all your lines of business to achieve new levels of visibility that drive innovation.”
Grant Case, APAC Regional Vice President of Strategic Accounts and ANZ Head of Sales Engineering, Dataiku
“AI can improve businesses great and small. For many, the initial concern is data, but most SMBs have enough quality data to start, while large firms have a wealth of data to drive insights. Businesses should think of data as a compass, data relationships as a map, and AI as the GPS to guide them along the way. AI, like GPS, shows the best route possible, but leaves the decision making for the driver.
“Some sample use cases that can generate immediate value include:
- Providing better customer experiences and recommendations through segmentation and analysis of purchasing behaviours
- Helping inform businesses looking to scale through better forecasting of inventories and cash flows
- Using location optimisation to identify new retail locations or enhancements to warehouse layouts
This may sound complex, but thankfully, there are tools and platforms that can help address these use cases and get an organisation started. However, when implementing AI, businesses must prepare for AI to disrupt their current practices. Gaining early buy-in from affected teams will be the most important element to the initial success in an organisation’s AI journey.”
James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic
“Businesses that are serious about future-proofing and maintaining a competitive advantage are already leveraging innovative, data-driven solutions to modernise their IT infrastructure, streamline processes and drive connected experiences for their customers.
“AI-powered integration platforms use advanced machine learning algorithms to learn from millions of metadata elements and billions of data flows. That learning is then applied to improve the speed and quality of integrations across data, applications, and business processes.
“By harnessing the power of innovative, data-driven platforms, businesses also have access to data and analytics that are key to better decisioning, allowing them to compete at scale and lower costs.”
Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital
“Machine learning and AI have been at the forefront of driving strategic initiatives for brands and their CMOs to achieve digital transformation and customer experience goals. According to Gartner, 77 per cent of senior executives view data science as delivering significant value or being essential to the success of their organisations.
“Delivering meaningful omnichannel experiences requires insights that help marketers understand and anticipate customer behavior. To do so, marketers must quickly identify opportunities that drive consumer engagement and increase revenue, which requires tools that enable easy access to customer insights and analytics.
“Delivering automated personalisation strategies can also eliminate the manual work of identifying customers and anticipating customer behavior. ‘Intelligent’ marketing allows brands to uncover insights and audiences, and drive results with recommendations and predictions leveraging machine learning. With intelligent marketing, brands can take the guesswork out of audience identification, targeting, propensity scoring, recommendations, and offer optimisation.
“Intelligent marketing leverages a unique recipe of journey orchestration, smart activation, advanced decisioning and machine learning, all underpinned by a single customer view of consumer data.”
Stephane Marouani, Country Manager ANZ, Mathworks
“Digital transformation, including AI, offers unmatched potential for businesses. Not only does it vastly improve communication between devices, systems, and personnel both inside and outside of the company, but it also empowers businesses to gain short-term ROI through cost-cutting and increased efficiencies. A report by Accenture showed corporate profits are set to increase by an average of 38 per cent by 2035 thanks to the advanced deployment of AI into financial, IT, and manufacturing applications. AI technology enables organisations to learn and predict tendencies to solve complex problems that have too many variables for the human brain to analyse successfully. By implementing AI, crucial operational decisions can be supported in real-time to greatly improve safety, security, efficiency, and productivity.”
Will Calvert, Director of Technology and Enablement, RMIT Online
“Artificial Intelligence is an inevitable step in the evolution of business. It presents a number of opportunities, such as paving the way to improved customer experience and more accurate predictions of customer behaviour.
“It is estimated that by 2030, 63 per cent of all jobs will be made up of soft skill-intensive jobs. To meet the needs of businesses in the digital future, we need to have systems in place that will equip both seasoned executives and the leaders of tomorrow with skills that are complementary to AI, such as creativity, collaboration, leadership development, and the ability to critically and strategically analyse information. AI can also play a crucial role in creating efficiency within organisations, through automation.
“The real challenge facing AI isn’t potential applications, it’s getting companies to recognise them. When AI is used as a strategic business tool, it can allow businesses to keep ahead of the curve.”
Richard Shanahan, Chief Product & Data Officer, Tic:Toc
“Any use of Artificial intelligence (AI) must allow the inherent “intelligence” to be acted upon by users and systems. A great example is how privacy-preserving and unbiased AI can be applied to automate manual processes, driving efficiency and accuracy.
“Tapping into the potential of AI starts with consuming and enriching raw data. Generally, the more data you have, the more hidden patterns, (or “signal”) there are to identify, analyse and learn from. This allows businesses to create automated interactions for employees, customers and partners.
“At Tic:Toc we continually innovate within our Platform, leveraging data throughout. Using over five years’ worth of deep consumer data insights, we’ve been able to increase automation rates and enable us to offer better pricing for customers, more focused human-in-the-loop interaction, faster outcomes and real-time credit decisions.
“For businesses looking for the best return from AI solutions, you must have a “data-first” mindset coupled with best-in-class privacy and security practices. With these foundations, you can embed AI and data throughout your products to delight your customers. In the financial services sector, legacy systems and mindsets will hold you back as the landscape continues to evolve. If you haven’t yet, then start investing, partnering and exploring AI opportunities to drive better consumer, partner and employee success.”
Nathan Kale, General Manager ANZ, Icertis
“For businesses, efficiency and productivity gains are two of the most commonly cited benefits of using AI. Automation with AI means technology can handle and process tasks at a much faster rate than humans could and at the same time, removing that task from an employee’s workload frees them up to focus on higher-value tasks. This also removes the opportunity for human error in manual processing. But AI offers far more benefits than that. AI’s capacity to take in and process massive amounts of data in real time means businesses can implement almost immediate monitoring capabilities that have the capacity to alert them to issues, recommend action and, in some cases, to even initiate a response. For example, Icertis, the global leader in contract intelligence, leverages the power of AI, enabling organisations to unlock their contract data to drive faster revenue, bigger savings, less risk, and better compliance. This includes digitising legacy contracts and importing third-party contracts at scale, analysing past negotiation history to gain insights for improvement, and deep data visualisation capabilities that provide unprecedented visibility into contract relationships and performance.”
Suzette Bailey, CEO and co-Founder, reKnow
“With rapid advances in technology in the last few years, AI can now be used cost-effectively by any business to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and make better decisions.
“Common ways businesses are using AI include generating marketing copy, transforming video and podcast content into show notes and articles and responding to customer service enquiries. AI can respond to customer queries, and assist humans in complex tasks, like identifying customer issues and suggesting solutions.
“AI can systemise marketing by segmenting customers, personalising messages, predicting customer behaviour, optimising ad campaigns and improving website conversions.
“AI can also improve business operations by automating data entry and invoicing, or optimising processes, like supply chain management.”
Brett Gronow, Founder and Executive Chairman, Systema AI
“Small and medium businesses that rely on cookies to target and personalise customers’ experiences will soon face an abrupt reality without them. Between increased and warranted government regulation and growing consumer awareness around data privacy and identity protection, businesses will need to address this pending need as they revisit their personalisation strategies.
“This is where genuine AI can intercede. Businesses can leverage AI and machine learning to tailor and automate the manner in which they engage their target audience. AI solutions can help drive marketing, engagement and personalisation efforts in a way that doesn’t require any PII data collection, yet still, adjust the experience to customers’ needs in real-time. This is termed contextual AI.
“AI commerce technology can help businesses respect consumers’ privacy without sacrificing a personalised experience – Thus serving both the consumers and the businesses as they transition to a world without invasive cookie technologies.”
Charlie Stewart, Senior Manager Enterprise Sales, Yellow.ai
“AI has given businesses a new dimension of growth with conversational AI becoming a necessity for businesses to elevate their customer and employee experiences. What is most compelling about conversational AI is its ability to transform the whole process of customer and employee engagement- traversing across functions such as marketing, customer support, conversational commerce, HR and ITSM. Powered by Dynamic AI agents, it addresses customer and employee queries, delivering the right message at the right time and on the right platform in their preferred language. Most importantly it supports customers and employees throughout their journeys while keeping the human in loop. Talking about the benefits, conversational AI is helping enterprises reduce operational time and costs, improving customer and employee satisfaction scores, enabling effective lead generation that also involves up-selling of products and services, streamlining onboarding to off-boarding process for employees and reducing ticket resolution time leading to increased employee productivity.”
Dan Beaty, CEO & Founder, Clear Dynamics
“AI will transform how we use data to understand customers. What does that mean though? When I worked in retail banking, there were reems of data telling us what was purchased and when, and where money flowed to, and from. The data sat side by side, but never spoke to each other. Yet these rows of data were the first lines of a story. More lines were hidden within our company and across our partnerships – data we didn’t consciously know we had access to. By reading the full story, we find better and more personalised ways to support that customer. For a human, that exercise, at that level of granularity for that one person, could take months. Using AI and ML, such as the software platform we’ve developed at Clear Dynamics, we can surface these unseen stories and act on insights up to 20x faster – taking a one-off exercise to a scalable enterprise. That’s transformative.”
Adrian Johnstone, President and Co-Founder, Practifi
“With rising operating costs and increased difficulty hiring talent, building scalable servicing models is fundamental to success. Keeping pace with rapidly evolving client expectations through technology is also essential. AI enables businesses to spot trends, identify opportunities and anticipate risks without the need for additional labour costs. Well deployed AI models, once fully trained, provide a low cost, highly scalable lead identification or generation capability within existing client bases. These models also reduced key person sensitivity at a time where workforce flexibility and fluidity is heightened.”
Umesh Banga, Director of Advice Solutions APAC, Practifi
“There are four key areas for where AI can really improve your business:
- 24/7 interactive service: People expect fast, convenient, personalised service any time, anywhere. Automated chatbots deliver.
Basically, it is a new marketing channel that allows brands and users to connect directly. A chatbot simulates human dialogue across websites, mobile apps, and phones. They’re AI-powered virtual assistants.
- Sentiment Analysis: Using AI, businesses can evaluate large volumes of data, conduct sentiment analysis, and combine social data with other sources to find customer wants intents, and preferences.
- Competitive Intelligence: AI can be used for competitive intelligence to monitor, track, and analyse what your competitors are doing. Make informed decisions by learning what works for businesses in your industry.
- Cyber Security
As digital businesses grow, the risk of cyberattacks increases dramatically. Threats such as identity theft, account takeover, and malicious ransomware strains all pose a commercial threat. AI can manage vulnerabilities, detect phishing, monitor behaviours, and prevent attacks.”
Glenn Elliott, CEO and Co-Founder, Practifi
“AI in a wealth advice business can help the firm manage more clients more efficiently, without adding headcount. AI can help advisers prioritise at a level of the scale far beyond what they can do with their own intuition. Machine learning algorithms can correlate risk likelihood factors (such as investment performance, client service, engagement touchpoints, the sentiment of communications) with risk impacts (AUM and revenue loss) to assess where the adviser should prioritise his or her attention next.
“AI can also find patterns in data at scale: clusters of common events and anomaly outliers that might be lead indicators of potential success or hazard. Machine learning is great at rapidly assessing the relationship between hundreds or thousands of variables to find predictive correlations. Maybe your best referrals cluster around a select few of your advisers, all of whom share one awesome client service rep. Maybe prospect conversion dramatically improves when a critical influencer provides a reference.
“The exciting thing is that, once a firm gathers a broad cross-section of client engagement data, AI models can uncover actionable trends through early, unsupervised machine learning. It’s easier than ever to get started.”