In the past decade, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have become increasingly present in businesses. From the intriguing autopilot features on Tesla’s cars, to the algorithms used to generate your perfectly curated Facebook feed, to Google filters that keep spam out of your inbox, so many facets of our lives benefit from the continually emerging fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Some prominent disciplines of AI and ML include neural networks, reinforcement learning, and natural language processing, among several others.
But do customers really want AI in their products? What kinds of reservations do they have? It turns out that unknowingly, customers actually do. Let's look at some of the ways AI is present in our lives.
Applications of AI in Everyday Life
Voice assistants are powered by "conversational AI", which is the use of chatbots or speech-based assistants as a way of automating communication between humans and computers. Siri, Alexa, and your Google Maps direction narrators are prime examples of voice assistants in use today. As of 2019, there were estimated to be 3.25 billion digital voice assistants in use in a variety of industries.
There are actually several ways AI algorithms and models are used by Google specifically in your email. Nudging reminders when you need to follow up about something important, autocompleting to help you quickly send your emails, and filtering out spam before it gets to your inbox are just some of the ways Google takes advantage of AI tools.
Services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud monitor your listening habits and, using their AI algorithms, recommend new music. Some of Spotify's applications of AI include the "Your Weekly Discovery" and "New Releases" playlists. These algorithms can even go as far as to recommend a party playlist on a Friday night or suggest an acoustic mix on a rainy afternoon, all depending on a user's location.
Outlets including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook use AI algorithms to curate the most relevant and entertaining feed for your viewing as well as enhance your overall user experience.
Customers Lack Knowledge About AI
Despite its usage in almost every technology-driven application today, many people remain unaware of just how much AI surrounds them. According to HubSpot’s Global AI survey of 1400 people for Quarter 4 in 2016, “of the respondents who said they have not used AI, 63 percent of them were actually using it.” They simply had no idea how prevalent it was in their lives. This survey also cites that daily use of voice search is up by 27 percent compared to last year, which is a considerable amount. These statistics show that AI isn’t just present, but unknowingly being used by people every day.
We know that AI is engrained in several of our everyday activities, but how do customers really feel about this? Pegasystems, a leader in customer engagement software, conducted a global study to measure consumer attitudes toward AI. When asked about how comfortable they were with businesses using AI to interact with them, only 35% indicated that they would be comfortable.
Many in this survey also indicated that they were not using AI when in fact they were. This suggests that there are also a significant number of consumers are uncomfortable with AI that actually use it without knowing, ultimately showing that consumers know a lot less about what AI and ML truly do.
The survey suggests that this lack of knowledge comes from a fear of the unknown – since many customers of AI don't know how the tool itself works, they are naturally uncomfortable with what it is capable of. For example, many are scared that Amazon Alexa listens to every conversation, or that other applications invade their privacy and security, doing things like stealing their data.
While some of these concerns may be true for some products, by and large, many customers don't know what they are getting themselves into. This type of fear also causes issues for some of the businesses that develop AI tools.
AI in Business
There are several current trends in AI practices in businesses that are quite intriguing to learn about-- these will show you just how useful AI can be for several types of users and how ingrained it already is in our daily lives.
For example, in February, a World Health Organization report noted that Big Data and AI are already being used to help medical professionals in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The applications of AI even in this single situation are varied. A Chinese tech company is using an AI system and infrared to predict passengers' temperatures at various train stations. Meanwhile, other countries are using robots for contactless delivery to ensure areas are safe for use. AI has and will continue to be used in all forms of healthcare for years to come.
Another important AI trend applicable to virtually any kind of business is forecast analysis. Using machine learning networks to develop models based on data is becoming increasingly widespread among businesses. This company analysis allows proper forecasting with between 90-95% accuracy.
Neural networks, another branch of artificial intelligence, allow businesses to discover the internal structure required for time series analysis, which is the use of a model to predict future values based on a set of known values. Anomaly detection is also important to look out for. That is, detecting “noise” and only capturing necessary patterns. These kinds of algorithms can be used in financial, social, or political situations.
AI as a Customer-Facing Tool
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence tools are being consumed everyday at astonishing rates. While we now know how a customer might feel about AI, let's look at how they specifically might benefit from its usage in business.
Looking at customer service, for example, AI tools allow for proactive support. This means businesses are able to identity a customer-facing issue before the customer does, minimizing the disruption caused to the customer experience. This is huge for a customer – minimizing any pain points before the customer can complain about them is often key to a great product and satisfied customer. Using AI for customer support undoubtedly results in benefits for the customer.
The same can be said for AI algorithms used in other applications, like social media. While using AI is incredibly useful for the business, predicting the content one will most enjoy engages the customer and results in repeated and steady use of the product as a means of staying up-to-date on current media. The increased entertainment a customer enjoys as a result of AI tools is an inherent benefit to the customer.
Leveraging AI tools produces results that have greater efficiency and usability for producers and consumers. Generally speaking, customers (often unknowingly) do want more AI. They benefit from its usage in all kinds of applications. Whether it's Google auto-predicting your search, Alexa adding an item to your grocery list, or TikTok's AI algorithm putting together the perfect For You page, customers are surrounded by AI whether they like it or not.