Making the most of Business AI

Image of a motherboard with 'AI' on it | making the most of Business AI

Technology has transformed the world we live in. It has given billions around the globe the opportunity to share their ideas, opinions and perspectives. Industries ranging from education and academia to accountancy were transformed quickly by the introduction of the pocket calculator in the late 1970s. By the 1990s, the Internet had revolutionized access to information worldwide, closely followed by smartphones in the early 2000s making information instantly available at our fingertips.

While these technologies have vastly changed the way we live and work, we are now witnessing the latest step-change with the arrival of generative AI. The technology is now ubiquitous, rapidly being adopted across all industries – and regulators are scrambling to keep up.

Technology companies are racing to enhance their offerings and value to customers as a result. However, the value of AI lies in enabling businesses to use data to enhance decision-making to ultimately boost their bottom line.

AI is already providing value and not how you might think (a Lidl example)

German retailer Schwarz Group, owners of Lidl, brought in their historical business data, consumer sentiment, financial information and even weather forecasts to better predict demand in its stores. As a result, they have seen 15 percent better inventory management, a 20 percent decrease in waste and an increase in total sales due to having the right products on shelves at the right time for their customers.

This is where the business value for AI lies. It may not be as headline grabbing as the art from Midjourney or generated text from ChatGPT, but AI-powered tools are already slowly transforming the way businesses operate. We have recently launched Joule, an AI co-pilot that is capable of answering complex questions by sorting through company data. This grounding in data analysis helps to reduce the “hallucinations” that responses from generative AI can sometimes produce. A user could ask “how do I improve store performance?” and an answer would be generated that combines product information, marketing materials, warehouse stock and shipping recommendations, for each store location.

 While there are growing concerns that organizations may misuse AI or be unaware of biases in the outcomes associated with the technology, emerging legislation such as the EU’s AI Act will play an essential role in providing regulation and guidance to businesses. A responsible way of using AI will be crucial to building trust as the new tools gradually become integrated in the workplace – and there are already signs that the technology is beginning to be trusted by businesses and employees alike. According to data from KPMG, 55 percent are already comfortable with AI being used at work, with half of professional workers and 65 percent of managers willing to trust the technology.

Developing AI for enterprises

There are a number of guiding principles we can use when developing AI for business. First, technology companies should study their customers’ most critical processes and understand how and where adding AI will make a competitive difference. Second, the technology needs to be able to make use of actual business data, to ensure that its output is relevant to individual customers.

Finally, AI software makers must take ethics seriously. A responsible technology industry will always put people at the centre of its products and services, with a strong emphasis on data protection, privacy, and sovereignty.

If we get this right, AI could transform our industries in the coming years. Supply chains will benefit from accurate, short-term forecasts and proactive mitigation of potential disruption. Companies will be able to ensure manufacturing accuracy while also cutting inventory costs. And customer needs will be better understood, allowing businesses to truly create a personalized experience whilst increasing conversion rates.

Across countless industries, AI is going to allow businesses to improve data-driven decision making, making it possible for every employee, regardless of analytical expertise, to draw upon trusted insights. Copilots, like Joule, will break down barriers to accessing vital information through reducing internet searching and research to a single prompt.

The future of AI in industry

While many businesses have already begun to implement AI, the potential for further use of the technology is huge – and the impact it will have on industry profound. The future of industry is bright, and we should welcome the groundbreaking innovation the technology will bring.