As consumers, we’re familiar with — if not yet wholly invested in — the term “artificial intelligence,” whether it’s by way of self-driving cars or voice-enabled search like Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Artificial intelligence is on course to drastically change the enterprise, with big implications for productivity, and possibly even larger ramifications for the economy.
Business intelligence is providing companies with an overabundance of data, but it’s AI that’s emerging to make this data actionable by giving executives and employees useful insights that are relevant to their specific roles and what they need to accomplish on any given day.
To name just a few of implications of how business will change with AI, today’s workforce will be empowered to take on new approaches with time management, teamwork and collaboration, client service, or business forecasting. For example, instead of just assessing raw data, artificial intelligence can take into account historical patterns and the current context of an employee’s role, the nature of the business within which they work, and market dynamics. It can provide a comprehensive framework that has the potential to transform the way people make decisions, how they work, and how companies grow.
We’ll see artificial intelligence enable drastic changes in several areas within the enterprise, including:
1. Priority and focus
Artificial intelligence has the potential to eliminate the inefficiencies of day-to-day work so employees can prioritize their time and focus on what matters. Whether you’re a sales rep or the CEO, most of us only react to our day and to the “data” that hits our inbox.
AI will instead allow us to take a proactive approach to our time by providing prescriptive insights into what we need to get done that are specific to our role in the company and for different scenarios. For instance, if I’m a sales rep, AI will help me determine the opportunities in my pipeline that have the best chance of closing this quarter. If I’m the head of customer success, it will tell me which customers are at risk of not renewing their contract.
At the C-Suite level, AI will give a COO or CMO direction as to where resources should be allocated — that is, which territories may need more sales people or which departments in the organization need a larger budget. As CEO, it will enable me to tell shareholders and the Street whether we’ll hit our revenue numbers. In short, AI will provide useful insights relevant to a specific employee — their role and their needs — and help them make better and more strategic decisions about how to best allocate their time.
2. Organizational collaboration
Many ask if artificial intelligence and machine learning will eliminate jobs and the need to actually speak to people. The fears are mostly overblown, since daily business operations will still require interpersonal interactions. But the parties in these exchanges will become better informed and, subsequently, more valuable, thanks the insights from AI.
For managers, AI will provide a clear picture of a team’s performance and allow time to be spent with those who need it most and on specific topics. Instead of discussing the details of every project, you’ll know which team members need guidance on navigating a key initiative or be able to quickly address a deal that appears to be slipping into next quarter.
Similarly, you and your coworkers, who may be in different parts of your company, will be able to go into a meeting with a real-time status update of projects or sales deals. Conversation can then center on what needs to be done — and who needs to be involved — to move things forward, rather being bogged down in the usual round-robin status update.
Bots will likewise play a big role in enterprise collaboration by bringing a sense of urgency to a situation and prompting the right collaborative behavior in response. For example, if AI identifies a deal that may not close before the quarter ends, a bot would be able to notify the rep as well as the sales engineer, manager, and sales ops exec, pulling the right team together to bring the deal across the finish line. Of course, bots will also serve as “helpers” for routine tasks, such as scheduling meetings, reminding you to call a coworker, or even making reservations for an upcoming networking lunch.
3. Client service
While it’s fun to think about bots that allow people to order tacos, artificial intelligence in a business context will power a whole new level of client service. Using machine learning, historical patterns of client success can be identified, and, in turn, allow for a prescriptive set of best practices created for processes such as pipeline management, client onboarding, and ongoing delivery of value to customers for continued renewal.
For example, based on your company’s pattern of bringing in clients, AI could enable you to identify a higher potential for customer disengagement at a specific stage in the onboarding process. You’d then be able to prompt your customer success team to focus on key “moments” in the customer lifecycle to drive continued adoption of your technology within an organization, instead of scrambling to figure out what went wrong.
Any one of these elements — be it prioritization, collaboration, or client service — may seem but small pieces of the puzzle for organizations. Yet together they represent the potential for artificial intelligence to change the way companies work and how they grow.