Becoming technology-led, not just technology-enabled

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the modern enterprise has dominated many boardroom conversations, with many companies now implementing, or considering implementing, the technology in some form or another. But to be truly future-ready, companies must understand that AI will be pervasive across all business functions. 

The benefits of the technology is clear to see – with recent research finding that AI can help companies grow their annual profits 80 per cent faster. What’s more, companies using AI have found that errors have been reduced by more than a third (37 per cent), on average, and almost three quarters (72 per cent) of businesses that use AI better understand overall business performance.

About the author

Emma Hitzke, Senior Product Marketing Director, Emerging Tech, Oracle

The winners of the next decade, therefore, will be the businesses that focus on driving business impact and ingraining AI in their processes and solutions. The losers will not be those that fail to follow trends, but rather those who cannot embed AI and emerging innovations in everything across the business.

Intelligent conversations with your back office

One of the drivers towards pervasive enterprise AI actually comes from the consumer world. People have seen how AI can improve apps like Netflix and Waze, so they’re developing similar expectations for the apps they use at work. AI will become a colleague, the intelligent classmate we all knew at school, to help us in everyday office life. A friendly AI will automate repetitive tasks, add value to our data input, deliver smart insights and suggestions, and continuously improve as we engage with it.

A good example of this is how the chatbot will evolve. Eighty per cent of companies are now using a chatbot in some form, according to research. Chatbots are good at answering simple questions when people interact with them, but staff will increasingly expect more. For that reason, the focus will turn to AI-powered digital assistants that are better equipped to understand the intention and context behind requests. AI will also help digital assistants proactively address questions and concerns, rather than simply responding to requests.

The more staff talk to a digital assistant, the smarter it gets. Every “conversation” creates important data that the assistant can learn from. Over time, it will use this accumulated knowledge to anticipate preferences—such as what kind of reports a staff member requests most frequently, when the next quarterly business review is coming up and even travel preferences. If you’re the CFO, it can effectively allow you to have an intelligent conversation with your ERP software.

The C-suite is already seeing the importance of such technology – digital assistants increase productivity by more than a third (36 per cent) and speed up financial analysis by 38 per cent, according to research. In fact, the vast majority of execs (83 per cent) believe AI will completely automate financial close processes within half a decade.

AI will trigger business action

Another major driver that will spread AI around a business is the fact that companies will look to ensure that AI capabilities natively connect to the processes they already have, so they can work, operate, and engage smarter. This means that AI can do more than recommend the next best actions; it can also trigger the best actions regardless of device, vendor, product, or service. 

In the future, truly connected AI may even give way to connecting to an individual’s biometrics. It could eventually end the need for separate security documents, and even offer best product or service purchase recommendations as you are walking through a shopping mall or the airport – much like the science fiction movie Minority Report.

Time to become technology led

AI is nearly everywhere in today’s society, and soon it will be everywhere in business. Sometimes it’s fairly obvious (as with a chatbot), and sometimes AI is hidden under the covers (as with network monitoring tools). It’s a virtuous cycle: modern cloud computing and algorithms make AI a fast, efficient, and inexpensive approach to problem-solving. Developers can use data analytics with those cloud services and algorithms and imagine new ways to incorporate the latest AI functionality into their software. Businesses see the value of those advances – even if they don’t know that AI is involved – and everyone benefits. 

With enterprise AI becoming ever more pervasive, only agile, customer-obsessed businesses will be successful. These businesses will rapidly take advantage of emerging technologies: working continuously with new solutions, discovering new business possibilities enabled by these technologies, and then bringing those new possibilities to the market. Simply put, there’s no use simply “enabling” the use of technology in your business – it’s time for businesses to become technology-led.

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