Artificial intelligence: five trends on the horizon

Artificial intelligence: five trends on the horizon


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Artificial intelligence
Published on 28 November 2018
Reading: 4 minutes

Artificial intelligence: five trends on the horizon

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how companies do business, and to stay in the game, entrepreneurs need to keep up with technological advances. We take a closer look at a few trends likely to act as catalysts for your growing SME.

1- Sales forecasting

Artificial intelligence now makes it possible to analyze numerous variables to predict a product’s projected sales. For example, a shovel manufacturer can measure the impact the weather is likely to have on future sales, and use these calculations to adjust inventory accordingly, and better meet customer demand.

In the same vein, an algorithm that monitors social media sites could help a clothing store determine what products their followers might potentially love, and be able to suggest them before the customer even makes it into the store. More accurate sales forecasting  translates into tremendous business savvy for those willing to jump on the AI bandwagon.

2- Price personalization

For any growing business, setting optimal product price can be quite perplexing. Artificial intelligence can alleviate some of this stress, making price setting a more dynamic process. With AI, entrepreneurs can personalize sales prices in real-time according to different variables.

The price of a certain product can be automatically determined in relation to the competition’s offerings, consumer behaviour, real-time customer demand, and so on. Price personalization means selected variables can be used to determine a client’s capacity and willingness to purchase a certain product. Take for example, the ride-sharing service Uber: it uses a pricing algorithm that adjusts its service fees according to supply and demand. This means that when the demand for rides outstrips the supply of cars, surge pricing kicks in and incites partner-drivers to offer the service clientele are seeking.



3- On-point predictive analyses

In some sectors, better financial forecasts mean bigger profits. An illustrative case is the insurance industry. Insurance actuaries often study several different hypotheses in order to offer their clients ideal rates and attain the company’s desired profitability. Forbes recently featured an article about Japan’s Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company, which has implemented AI in a big way. The company recently began using IBM’s Watson Explorer, a cognitive technology and advanced data analysis system that improves the speed of decision making and customer service. As a result, Fukoku Mutual estimates a 30% increase in productivity and millions of dollars in annual savings.

4- Virtual agents for a better customer experience  

AI also has the ability to improve a company’s customer service, notably with tools such as chatbots, a.k.a. conversational agents—computer programs that interact with humans through voice or text. Chatbots are  designed to convincingly simulate human behaviour. Their main expertise for many businesses? Gathering information and improving after-sales service experience. Chatbots perfect their service offerings by applying machine learning to a messaging interface system, and have simplified automated interactions between customer and company. This is one trend that is quickly gaining in popularity, especially given the growing demand for automated personal assistants.

5- Supply chain management

Online retail giant Amazon is, without a doubt, the leader when it comes to automated retail. They were the first to launch “smart shopping”: a checkout-free smart grocery store, where customers use a mobile app to “enter” the store, shop around, then automatically pay for their purchases. A series of sensors combined with artificial intelligence, enables computers to detect when a product is removed from a “shelf” and track a user’s purchases by way of virtual cart.

AI also simplifies supply chain logistics. It’s already possible to run a distribution centre on the cutting-edge of technology with fewer employees. Now using a combination of AI and robotics, product storage and distribution has also been optimized. Robots can work 24/7 and drones make it easy to identify inventory and sort through returns. And the best news yet? Collaboration between employees and machines means the possibilities offered by AI are virtually endless! Are you ready for the future?