You’ve probably seen the rise in popularity of the so-called “Artificial Intelligence” or “Machine Learning”, but is it useful and worth to bring it into your business ?

We receive many questions concerning the need of implementing AI into a business, so this article will try to answer to most of them.

You likely know what Machine Learning is, but a quick reminder :

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that enables systems to learn and predict outcomes without explicit programming.

Now, why would you need it ?

Less ongoing costs

After it has been setup, machine learning is way more inexpensive than human while working really well most — generally 85% - 95% — of the time. Which mean it may not works every time, but don't worry, there is a solution, your business won't fail because of an algorithm is doing crazy things. You see, when the software is giving you its output, it knows its probability of being wrong, so a common and efficient strategy is to give the work to humans only when there is a high chance that the algorithm is wrong.

Currently, an algorithm cannot replace all of your employees, but some of them.

Note: Instead of firing some of your employees, give them the opportunity to work on more meaningful and challenging tasks.

Reduce your costs over time

Another good thing with machine learning is that it can learn and become more accurate over time, which mean that you will need less and less humans as time passes, resulting in you having less and less costs and work.

There is an ingenious technique called active learning that awesomely fit a business. You take the problems where the algorithm struggles, make humans solve it, and then feed the answer back to the algorithm. Why is it brilliant ? Because you give the A.I. training data on cases that it never saw before and didn't know the result, which mean that it learn way more at once.

So yes, using machine learning in your business is an advantage, as your ongoing costs decrease over time, on top of being more inexpensive to begin with.

You will get better results faster, why would you not want to use it ?

That's cool, but how can I actually implement artificial intelligence in my company ? and how do other companies usually use it ?

Virtual assistance

Also known as chatbot, virtual assistants are softwares that can have a conversation with a human via textual or auditory methods.

The most obvious way to use it is through customer service, it can answer every redundant question, and let you take care of the rest. It can be a lifesaver, an example of this is when one of your service unexpectedly goes down, human agents only need to focus on the most challenging problems.

But virtual assistants can do more than that, they can actually perform tasks and help you when you ask it. For example, Apple’s Siri (and many other V.A.) knows what to do if you say “Find pictures of ...”, “Schedule a meeting”, or “Remind me to ...”. Of course, there are many times where you will want to use a customized chatbot with non-trivial features.

Automate internal processes

Automation is Voldemort: the terrifying force nobody is willing to name. — Jerry Michalski, founder of ReX

Automation comes with advances in technology, and cannot be stopped. Your business probably has at least one routine cognitive process that you can — and should — completely or partially automate with machine learning. It can help you with internal tasks that previously required humans as categorize, predict, extract, etc.

You will get the job’s outcome faster and — if the algorithm was well trained — its quality will be greater.

Exploit unstructured data

Structured data is the data you’re probably familiar dealing with in your business, it is extremely well organized and generally comes from databases, spreadsheets, etc...

Did you know that 80% of world’s data is unstructured ? Well if you think of it, it’s obvious, as unstructured data comes from videos, blog posts, pictures, documents, or even tweets, and that is the most abundant type of content.

Wow, that's a lot of data ...

Machine learning made this kind of data available and you can now exploit all of it in favor of your business, in an amount that humans cannot compute by hand. There are many, many way to use it:

  • data extraction from financial documents
  • sentiment analysis on news/tweets
  • obtain numerical values and information from pictures
  • event detection on social media

The list is huge, you likely have some ideas specific to your business, I invite you to try them and always think about optimizing your workflow. Be creative, and stay curious.