How the development of intelligent computers is helping business today.

 By Patrick O’Kell

One of the best definitions of artificial intelligence (AI) I have read is: AI is the study and design of intelligent agents where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success. What company would not want a computer which does nothing but tries to maximize the company’s chances of success?

The accomplishment of IBM’s ‘Watson’ marks a big milestone for the development of computers. Up until recently computers were very good at following prescribed instructions and deductive analysis. Today, machines like ‘Watson’ are able to reason and teach themselves, enabling them to understand, among other things, the complexity of human language. How does this help me you might ask?

In today’s competitive and dynamic market the world is moving faster than it ever has, and is only speeding up. Decision making has become increasingly complex and latency is inherent in most decision making processes, not to mention to amount of data to be analyzed has increased substantially. AI helps businesses reduce the latency in making their business decision, increase the amount and diversity of data which is analyzed and enhance revenue opportunities. As people become more digitally connected the opportunity for computers to aid businesses and grow their revenue increases.

As Watson prepares to tackle issues ranging from health care, fraud detection and crime prevention, there are many AI products out there already driving industry change.

Universal Music has implemented an AI program to determine the most effective media buy for a given campaign. In a test across 4 campaigns, the AI program reduced costs by two-thirds and more than doubled the net contribution of the campaigns. The AI program automated the behavioural and contextual tracking and analysis helping marketers stretch clients’ budgets, ensure every advertisement counts, and elicit higher conversion rates. Behavioural targeting is nothing new to marketers, the difference is that AI constantly evolves and prioritizes behaviour over time to make better recommendations.

The law industry has also found a good use for AI programs. Traditionally the task of providing relevant documents for a lawsuit was a timely and exorbitantly  expensive process which required large groups of lawyers reading millions of documents. Programs have recently come out onto the market which can search through more documents faster, for a fraction of the cost and with a higher degree of accuracy.

AI is being implemented across a wide variety of industries with great success. The marketing industry specifically stands to benefit a great deal from AI programs and increasing online consumer behaviour. I challenge you to find a business process or decision which cannot be made more efficient, or even completely autonomized by an AI program.

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