Artificial intelligence has been around for decades, though it just recently became a hot topic in the business world. During this time, many individuals have confused AI with automation, sometimes going as far as using the two terms interchangeably. The reality is, while the general concept may be similar, the two are distinctly different. Furthermore, this confusion has led to a number of other myths and misconceptions. We’d like to clarify a few things, beginning with the difference between AI and automation.
Intelligent automation involves programming technology to perform routine, manual tasks based on a prescribed set of instructions. Artificial intelligence takes this concept several steps further by using intelligent machines which are capable of displaying human behavior, thought and decision processes. Where automation is essentially set in stone (unless manually modified), an AI machine increases its own intelligence and can adapt its actions automatically, based on information it receives.
From a business perspective, artificial intelligence has the power to help organizations make more informed decisions. It can extract valuable information from mountains of data, analyze and organize it in a logical manner and essentially close the gap between insight and action. Given its complexity, however, AI is still often viewed in a negative light. To change this, we’d like to dispel three of the most common misconceptions as follows.
Artificial intelligence is a distant dream.
Many people believe that AI is a technology that won’t be readily available and practically applied until many years into the future. The truth is, widespread adoption of AI, both in our professional and personal lives, is much closer to becoming a reality than you may think. In fact, given that so many organizations across all industries and around the world are already employing automation to some degree, the idea that AI could be worked into the mix isn’t all that far-fetched.
Artificial intelligence isn’t really going to make that much of an impact.
The idea that AI is somehow inapplicable in the business world stems largely from the technologies complexity. People tend to discount things they have difficulty understanding. The reality is that AI is not only practical for business use, but it’s incredibly beneficial. The machine learning component of AI means that computers will have the ability to learn without the need for programming. It also has the capability of mining and analyzing big data to extract valuable insights which can then be put into action to achieve better results. These are things every organization can benefit from.
Artificial intelligence is going to eliminate the need for human workers.
While it’s certainly true that AI will make human workers redundant to some degree (think routine, repetitive tasks like reporting and data entry), this technology will not fully replace humans. This is particularly true in certain fields that require high-touch interactions, like HR, health care and consulting.
Likewise, while intelligent automation will streamline and optimize operations for many organizations, it cannot and will not replace the need for the development and nurturing of customer relationships. AI can, however, leverage data to provide human workers with the insight they need to deliver better, more personalized service.
And because implementing and managing new technology will always require some degree of human input, new roles and responsibilities will naturally evolve, which means that for many, AI will present great opportunities.
Like it or not, AI isn’t going anywhere. In fact, according to IDC research, worldwide spending on artificial intelligence is expected to reach $19.1 billion this year – an increase of more than 54% over last year. By addressing and overcoming the biggest misconceptions about AI, companies can harness the power of intelligent automation to streamline operations and provide competitive advantage.
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