Do I need AI to remain relevant?

Future of Work
Data Literacy

The idea of smart machines and artificial intelligence has been around in some form or another for centuries.

For most of that time, it’s been just that — an idea. More recently though, AI has been making a real impact on our lives. Better access to rapidly improving tech has made artificial intelligence a viable option for today’s businesses. 

But is it necessary?

Let’s take a closer look at why some businesses are hesitant to use artificial intelligence, a few of the benefits of AI, and how to decide if it’s right for you. 

Is artificial intelligence safe to use?

Whether it’s HAL 9000 or Skynet, Hollywood has a long history of portraying AI as the villain, something scary that could be the end of humankind. A few people — including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk — have even warned about the possibility of AI surpassing humans.

However, beyond these fantastical ideas, there are some genuine and well-founded concerns about AI and its place in business. For example, the Cambridge Analytica scandal increased awareness of data and privacy issues, prompting discussions on the need for AI regulations. 

Stories like this will always grab headlines, but that doesn’t mean AI is unsafe to use. With some simple planning and thinking ahead about the data you intend to collect, you can use AI ethically in a way that benefits you and your customers, without invading anyone’s privacy. 

As we’ll go on to see, plenty of companies are now using AI and machine learning to make a positive impact on their business and, in some cases, even our planet. 

The people using AI to save the world

Beyond the obvious advantages to business, organizations are using AI to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the planet and transform the world for the better. 

Consider some of the advances just in agriculture. Climate change and a growing population have necessitated improvements in food production. Machine learning has enabled scientists to analyze vast amounts of data and discover the genes responsible for positive crop qualities, such as increased yield or disease resistance. 

Similarly, farm management systems are applying machine learning to sensor data, enabling them to provide reliable recommendations regarding crops, livestock, soil and water. 

For example, Sound Agriculture used Obviously AI to predict crop yields based on the soil’s chemical properties, taking into account the type of soil, pH level, vegetation type and so on. Based on an AI model set up in just two days (instead of six months), they were able to increase crop yield by 5-10 bu/acre.

How businesses are benefiting from AI today 

Most people reading this will interact with AI and machine learning algorithms throughout the day, sometimes without even being aware of it. From analyzing your face when unlocking your phone to recommending what to watch next on Netflix, AI is working behind the scenes to make our lives easier. 

The number of businesses using AI is steadily increasing (up from 50% in 2020 to 56% in 2021), with widespread adoption going far beyond the well-known tech giants like Google and Apple. Businesses of all types and sizes, across virtually any industry you can imagine, are using AI to reduce costs, increase revenue and improve the customer experience.

With no-code AI solutions like Obviously AI, businesses are using machine learning to quickly create predictive models. As a result, they’ve been able to:

  • Identify leads most likely to convert
  • Predict the ads that’ll get the highest ROI
  • Detect and prevent fraud
  • Reduce customer churn
  • Predict employee turnover

This brings huge benefits to any business and can give a significant advantage over the competition. 

Deciding if AI is right for you

As we’ve seen, the number of companies using AI is steadily increasing but does that mean you need to implement it in your business? 

While you may not be creating the next voice assistant or designing self-driving cars, many businesses are sitting on a gold mine of untapped data. In their guidance on assessing artificial intelligence as a potential solution, the UK government recommends asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is there historical data containing the necessary information?
  • Is it ethical and safe to use the data? 
  • Do you have sufficient data for the model to learn from?
  • Would the analysis of the data be too difficult and/or repetitive for a human to carry out?
  • Would the data provide insights that could be used to achieve tangible outcomes?

You’ll have noticed that none of the questions refer to the size or maturity of your data science team. With a no-code solution, the truth is you don’t need an expensive team of expert data scientists to take advantage of machine learning. However, you will need reliable and clean data to create an accurate learning model. 

In short, if you have a significant amount of clean data that could yield actionable insights, then you could benefit from AI. 

Final thoughts

Despite some of the concerns around artificial intelligence, all kinds of businesses are using AI to optimize their process and improve the customer’s experience. Others have found ways to harness machine learning to make an even greater impact and address some of the major challenges facing this planet.

The big question is whether or not your business needs AI to remain competitive. For businesses with large amounts of data, it can definitely be an important asset. On the other hand, if you’re not already collecting data, you might want to start. Data is incredibly valuable, and businesses that can use the available information it in a correct and ethical way will have a significant edge over the competition. 

As AI continues to grow in popularity, it’s likely that it will soon become the norm rather than the exception. Just as businesses have adopted calculators, personal computers, websites and emails to grow their business, the increased accessibility of artificial intelligence means that, one day soon, every company will be an AI company.

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