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What is AI: Understanding AI – and how It impacts business

Published on Apr 01, 2024

What is AI: Understanding AI – and how It impacts business

Technology has always been part of modern life, but the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. Artificial intelligence, a rapidly developing technology, has already transformed how society functions. From chatbots that provide on-demand customer service to medical image analysis to screening job applications, AI is reimagining how businesses run their operations.

What is AI?

According to IBM, AI enables computers to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities. That’s what makes AI so revolutionary.

While news coverage of AI has increased dramatically in the last couple of years, particularly with the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, AI can trace its roots to the early 1950s.

So, how does AI operate, and how do machines learn? At a high level, here’s how a machine learns and becomes artificially intelligent.

AI uses large data sets and algorithms, enabling machines to analyze and learn from that information. Generally, machine learning starts with large volumes of training data, which the technology uses to learn about the data. Human programmers can refine the results machine learning produces. Programmers then provide the machine with data it has yet to analyze to test the accuracy of its algorithms. The machine then receives feedback from the programmers or users.

AI systems learn and develop using this approach. They also use neural networks, which are designed to mimic a human’s brain, and natural language processing, which allows computers to understand, interpret, and create language.

AI in business

Given AI’s capabilities, the technology can deliver many benefits to businesses, including increased efficiency, better accuracy, and new insights that were previously impractical or impossible to develop. Comprehensive data analysis, trend spotting, and AI’s predictive output allow businesses to move beyond human capabilities and limitations. 

For example, a chatbot can provide on-demand customer service and deliver personalized recommendations for additional products or services. When it comes to behind-the-scenes operations and better decision-making, AI can analyze inventory and sales records and recommend optimal inventory levels to ensure no stockouts.

Many of the providers that you already use will also have AI-infused solutions. For example, financial institutions use AI to analyze account activity to detect and prevent fraud.

Making AI work for you

A growing number of general and purpose-built solutions are significantly impacting businesses and how they operate. Given the exponential growth in AI-supported solutions, it’s highly likely that your business is already some form of artificial intelligence. If your business handles a high volume of data, performs repetitive tasks, or needs help with operational issues, such as forecasting, there may be additional opportunities to use AI.

To become a data-driven business that uses AI more, investing in the right technology and beginning with small, manageable projects is a good starting point. Adopting a phased approach allows your business to measure the impact of AI and increase its use when it generates positive results.

For example, using AI to screen incoming emails can allow you to test the technology and free up staff to work on more important tasks. Similarly, testing AI-powered chatbots on your website during regular business while an employee monitors their performance can give you the confidence to deploy the technology during off hours.

When selecting a provider, look for companies that support small businesses. Ask them to provide customer testimonials and pay close attention to online reviews of their solution.

Many AI providers offer a free trial period to test the solution’s performance. During that period, monitor the solution’s performance and ensure it functions as intended. If errors result or the solution makes mistakes, ask the vendor for an explanation of why they occurred and the steps they’ll take to avoid reoccurrence.

Before selecting a solution, set aside time to review the solution’s data usage and privacy policy. Ensure you understand what data is collected, how it is used, and whether it is shared with others. Additionally, once you deploy an AI solution, make sure employees understand what type of data they can and cannot share with the technology.

A successful adoption of AI depends on the involvement of your entire team. This includes providing the training and support to adopt the technology. While AI can result in headcount reductions, in many cases, it allows employees to focus on higher-value tasks. In those cases, make employees aware that the goal is to enhance their job, not eliminate it.

By embedding AI into your business, you can discover new avenues to fuel your growth, improve customer satisfaction, foster customer loyalty, and stay competitive in an ever-evolving and competitive environment.

This article is intended for educational purposes only. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are solely of the writer and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Valley Bank. Valley Bank does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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