If you’ve read the news lately, you may have heard that artificial intelligence is going to revolutionise the world. It’s estimated to add as much as $15.7 trillion USD to the global economy by 2030.
Rightly then, you should be aware of how AI will impact consumer, enterprise, and government markets. Even if you haven’t heard about “machine learning” or “deep learning algorithms,” know that artificial intelligence is being integrated into many business operations, from assembly line automation to customer service, across a spectrum of industries.
So, chances are that it will eventually affect you, your business, and your brand. Here are four challenges that artificial intelligence might pose.
Customers May Have Preconceived Ideas About AI
You’d think with all the great PR that AI gets—in publications like Forbes, The Telegraph, and The Wall Street Journal—that everyone would be onboard. On the contrary, popular culture doesn’t always portray artificial intelligence in the best light.
If you’ve gone to a movie theatre in the past few years, you might have seen a movie or two in which evil robots learn how to think on their own and attempt to take over the world. This type of media depiction is not uncommon, and so it’s little wonder that some people have concerns about the future of AI.
The truth about artificial intelligence is that it can accomplish what is humanly impossible. For some people, this can be a frightening thought. But, it can also be an inspiring one.
One example is the fledgling field of precision medicine, which uses deep genomics algorithms to find mutations in a patient's DNA that might be linked to diseases like cancer. No human could scan the 3 billion base pairs in the human genome for mutations, but with artificial intelligence identifying the culprit, doctors can tailor prevention and treatment plans to a patient’s individual genetics.
Sounds like a movie, right?
This is the reality of what artificial intelligence can do for humankind. If we start telling more stories like this one, we can change popular attitudes towards artificial intelligence for the better.
Customers Will Be Talking To Robots
When you think of branding, you might picture logos, packaging, or a pretty website. In the past, brands were concepts or images and customers had a specific relationship with those brands.
In the age of social media however, things have changed. How your business interacts with customers is more important than ever, and your relationship with the customer becomes the brand.
Artificial intelligence is relevant to this relationship, because in recent years, chatbots using AI have become a staple of many customer service operations. These chatbots can have a major impact on customer retention, especially if customers feel that their experience with the chatbot has been subpar.
Part of the solution may come with time and having AI’s natural language capabilities improve (although chatbots should never pretend to be humans). In the meantime, however, businesses would benefit from carefully considering which aspects of the customer experience should be prioritized.
For instance, the makeup company Sephora utilises a chatbot to book makeovers at their stores. The company benefits from automating the reservation process but retains the human element in its most vital interaction between the makeup artist and the customer.
When trying to build lasting customer relationships, think about which aspects of the customer experience should be automated for efficiency and which ones would benefit from human interaction.
Employees May Resist the Use of AI
With the rise in automation, one of the most common fears among your employees will likely be that artificial intelligence will replace them. This is a hotly debated topic. Some estimate that nearly one million jobs will be lost by 2026, while others argue that artificial intelligence will eventually create more jobs for humans.
In either case, it seems likely that there will be a shift in the types of jobs a business requires. As a business leader, strive to promote adaptability and re-qualification in your employees, which will also have the added advantage of winning the hearts of customers.
Also, consider that some employees may develop a more symbiotic relationship with artificial intelligence. If it is used to cast off more mundane tasks, an employee could gain invaluable time for higher level strategic thinking and relationship building.
Artificial intelligence may well be the key that unlocks a new level of human interaction between businesses and customers.
The Cost of Implementing AI Will Be Considerable
Successfully implementing AI in your business will require an immense amount of time, coordination, and money. You might be wise to start small and try to understand which systems are being underutilised and which will most benefit from transitioning to AI. This process has its share of hurdles, but it also has numerous benefits. You will likely hear about the potential efficiency and cost savings of AI systems. These savings can offset the costs of implementation, but afterward you might consider passing them along to the customer.
Today, artificial intelligence and related technologies are at a similar stage that Internet companies faced in 1995. There was a time when the tools and skills necessary for building a website capable of e-commerce was too complicated and expensive for most people. Fast forward to today, where these tools and skills are much more accessible, and companies use the Internet routinely for internal and external purposes. The same thing is likely to happen with artificial intelligence.
Using AI, small businesses and startups can find product-market fit faster and more efficiently through AI specialties like natural language processing, audience segmentation, and machine learning. Until recently, collecting feedback used to require manually sifting through written or verbal data to find patterns. But, thanks to tools like Keatext and Monkeylearn, entrepreneurs can now provide AI platforms with raw customer feedback, and receive neatly categorized customer sentiments in return, thus saving precious time and money.
Today, AI is new, inaccessible and expensive, especially for new startups. But, in a decade or two, it will be commonplace. As the landscape shifts and AI becomes a natural part of software products and online tools, it is important to think about how to leverage it when the time comes.
Democratising Costly Services
In the long term, AI has the potential to democratise costly services. Doctors and lawyers, for example, are often bogged down by non-core tasks, such as record keeping or document review. If these employees were supported by artificial intelligence systems, they might not only have more time, but also have the potential to service more patients and clients.
Technology startups can also greatly benefit from artificial intelligence systems. Using reactive processes, AI systems can observe consumer behaviour and make the necessary changes to reduce any issues that compromises the UX. AI can be used to translate customer information into personalized experiences for them, by learning their preferences and identifying the triggers that prompt action, like the placement of a call-to-action button or recommendations for relevant content.
AI technology can also be incorporated into an organization’s recruiting process to avoid bad hiring decisions. These tools can sift through thousands of applicants in a short amount of time by narrowing down candidates based on experience, keyword usage, and skill matches.
The use of artificial intelligence in any industry will likely shift how time, labour, and costs are expended by employees, but it also presents an incredible opportunity for your business to concentrate on the most important thing: the customer.
Your success in the future will rely on how you adapt to the tide of changing technologies. So, be sure you don’t miss the boat when it comes to the AI revolution.
Cat Williams-Treloar founded Humanisation, a Human-Centered Marketing Consultancy. Humanisation was born to help startups make a human impact in a digital world as they Go-To-Market across APAC.