Aye, The A.I. Revolution Is Here
Humanoid AI Robots & Cyborg Technology [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh2yFqvzMfA]
When something becomes part of daily parlance of the general population, you know that it has arrived. For the moment, the phrase is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Per se, robotics and A.I. have been around for a long time. Today, they are becoming more advanced and that's why they are occupying prime news spots. In one of our first posts of the New Year, we take a look at four industries that are being transformed by A.I. and A.I.-enabled technologies.
RETAIL: As A.I. becomes increasingly smarter, the prolonged holiday shopping season is going to become more profitable for retailers who utilize its capability to help them make quick decisions and changes to how they cater to their digital consumer base. In the world's largest retail market, North America, extraordinarily hot weather across much of the continent accomplished two unexpected phenomena this year: 1.) customers failed to buy cold-weather clothing in expected numbers and 2.) the blast of warm air encouraged more customers to turn off their computers, go outside, and shop in stores instead of online. Those retailers that have not kept up with the latest A.I. systems were caught off guard this season - highlighting why A.I. has become more important than ever.
Apart from streamlining supply chain and merchandising processes during the period when millions of customers need to buy, return, or exchange items, A.I. can also utilize this information to determine what worked and what needs tweaking. No longer do retail executives have to go on gut instincts on what will sell in the coming year. Based on what has sold, what hasn't, as well as social media chatter over what could be hot new products.
In 2016, we are going to see more of companies like Stitch Fix that uses a sophisticated algorithm and (pre-filled) data to generate a recommended product-list for customers. And with the rise of virtual assistants, watch out for apps like Mezi that uses A.I. and machine learning to help consumers do a number of things - including shop. In a recent coup, Mezi experts helped a client buy a blazer from the coveted Balmain's H&M collection that was sold out within minutes!
BANKING: Every day, millions of consumers use credit and debit cards. Last year, Javelin Strategy & Research report found that 12.7 million people were victims of identity fraud in the United States alone. In 2016, A.I. will become vital to ensuring that their transactions remain incident-free. CustomerXPS a startup has built a software product based on A.I and psychology. Before the online transaction is completed, it helps banks detect and avert fraud and takes necessary action to prevent any damage. Moreover, data theft (credit card information or identity theft) from back offices and contact centers is a growing threat. Leveraging device level user activity, intelligence companies are finally beginning to provide fraud alerts with evidence to prevent operational data theft. Fraud impacts are measured in incidents/day with significant cost exposure as a result (cost exposure of not detecting fraud amounts to US$ 20k per incident/day apart from liability costs). In the bank's back-end, A.I. is now being used to take 35-year-old technologies such as the ATM and radically transform it into Intelligent Transaction Machines (ITMs). An A.I.-enabled system that monitors usage patterns can preempt breakdowns and outages to assure 100 percent up-time and availability. Moreover, A.I.'s spot-on ability to predict and offer products and services can also build customer confidence and loyalty to banks. And have you heard of robotic wealth advisors? Enterprises like FutureAdvisor requests users to list his/her risk appetite and existing investment portfolio, and robotic advisors essentially take care of the rest by using proprietary algorithms, guiding him/her to suggested investment vehicles. In April 2015, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ introduced a customer service humanoid robot at its flagship Tokyo outlet. Nao (as the robot has been named) works at the reception area and speaks Japanese, English and Chinese. We'll see more of these in 2016.
HEALTHCARE: Let me present you with a scenario in 2020. John wakes up in the morning and does not feel right. He immediately taps on his smartphone/smartwatch and sets up an appointment with a doctor via his virtual medical assistant. The assistance asks him a few questions and requests him to put on a vest that is connected to an A.I.-enabled medical network to assess his vital signs for a few hours. Soon, the A.I. technology makes a diagnosis and sends it to the doctor. At the time of appointment, a doctor shows up virtually on his smartphone, asks a few incremental questions, and suggests medication. The e-prescription reaches him and the computer systems of the nearest pharmacy store instantly for pick-up.
This is the promise of A.I. in the next few years. A.I. technologies are able to capture the patient's vital stats, look up and link the condition to his medical history, capture symptoms on voice, make an initial diagnosis - and share all this information with a human specialist. Intervention at the patient's convenience with precision, irrespective of the location, is the future of healthcare.
INSURANCE: Even the traditionally more conservative insurance industry is embracing A.I. When claims processing gets the A.I. touch, fraudsters will have nowhere to hide. A.I.-based solutions have the capacity to use intelligent automation, pattern-spotting, and self-learning capabilities to help recognize potential fraudulent claims. A.I. can potentially help to create an omnichannel experience for all stakeholders involved in the claims process, right from the contact center staff to the claims agent. On the sales end, there are innovative companies like Conversica that specialize in developing A.I. software to help companies discover qualified sales opportunities. In terms of pricing and underwriting, profitable underwriting as well as intelligent pricing of insurance products is one of the key components in achieving competitive differentiation. There are a variety of initiatives combining relevant data with pricing and optimization engines. There is also a significant potential for A.I. solutions in areas like compliance, managing cost structures, and improving process efficiencies in the field. Today, the sales force comprising of insurance agents is aging - with about 25% of the workforce in the insurance industry to retire by 2018, according to a study by McKinsey. Given that insurance organizations will have to cater (or are already) to millennials, who prefer to shop for insurance online, A.I. will play a vital role in customer acquisition and retention in the next few years.
Machine-learning algorithms that continually learn from detail-oriented processes and methodologies are becoming smarter than ever before. Whether it's in retail, healthcare, insurance, or financial services industries, the machine-learning algorithms at the heart of A.I. are taking the guesswork out of even the most complex activities because of this technology's ability to predict and anticipate the unknown. Helping enterprises become prepared for a variety of outcomes significantly improves their resiliency and profitability. Many global corporations, therefore, are beginning to see A.I. for what it truly is: the most potent tool they have leveraged in generations and one that can make them more profitable than ever.