As you are likely very aware, Artificial Intelligence has become a real attention getter in the business world, as well as public media. One cannot be looking at the news everyday without coming across some article discussing AI. However, just because something is a fad, doesn’t mean that it is either new or something everyone needs. AI has been around for a long time. Anyone who has purchased something from a website is well aware of the “ others who bought “X”, have also been interested in …” feature. That feature has been around for decades. That feature is an example of AI. A simple but helpful understanding of AI is that it is able to attempt to find patterns and suggest predictions by sifting through enormous quantities of data. Quantities of data that would make seeing patterns an insurmountable human task.

Just to get a general understanding how AI is being used to meet organizational objectives, improve processes, marketing, recruiting, and even worker safety, let’s look at a few diverse examples.

Worker Safety: AI can sift through data to notice patterns of worker injury to identify safety problems in a manufacturing sector business. Simple aggregate statistics ( 5 injuries per day ) doesn’t help identify where the risks actually are, and certainly doesn’t identify key areas of risk) Where are things going wrong? Maybe patterns in time suggest worker fatigue. Maybe it identifies a certain activity that presents safety issues.

Demand Forecasting in Retail: Determining how much to stock of what item for a coming sales season can be as much an art as a quantifiable skill. As a result, companies can see real hits to the bottom line when they make a mistake. Just observing how much sold this month last year isn’t a sufficient predictor for the coming period. What about the weather? Bad economic news. Construction on a nearby road that is now finished this year. The endless factors that may influence buying decisions can be used to forecast demand more accurately.

Disease Screening in Healthcare: AI has the capacity to potentially use data to identify or eliminate certain diagnoses that an individual medical professional whose experience is necessarily finite, might be able to do. Like much else, there are ethical issues that can make AI a complex tool, but there is much potential.

Disease Tracking: The pandemic was practically an instructional video on the value of AI. Tools that could identify all of those who had likely contracted with someone who tested positive for Covid -19? That was AI at work.

Just in Time Inventory: Just in time inventory means that manufacturers avoid the costs associated with inventory that sit unused until needed. Identifying along a very long supply chain how inventory can be built and shipped to arrive just in time is no simple task. AI is a key component of that inventory model.

Customer Retention: Like other areas, you probably can collect more information about your customers than you can make sense of. So, why did they leave? You may have the answer, but it may actually be a calculus of many factors. AI can help identify all of the issues that may have led a customer to leave. Without AI, you may incorrectly attribute it to one single factor.

AI and Marketing: Why are marketers so interested?

AI has potential applications in the marketing end of any business, large or small. AI may offer you some new tools to more effectively market without expanding your present marketing resources. Marketers, in particular, may find AI useful in these three general categories-

Collecting Data about Prospective Customers– Even small businesses can collect a significant amount of data. AI can allow you to analyze that data. No matter how much data you collect, it is useless unless you can synthesize it, see patterns, etc. The human capacity to make sense of the massive amount of data we collect is limited.

Using Data to Market More Effectively– Even the most novice marketer knows that the more you know about each prospect the easier it will be to target them. The more you know their needs, the more you can explain how your product or service meets those needs. AI allows you to do more with the data you collect- to make sense of it so you can use it.

Generating the RIght Message– AI may be also able, to a certain degree, assist you in creating the messaging to reach your target. However, it is important to recognize that AI is not a silver bullet.