AI stock-check – Where are we today?

Columnists | Technology

With stories of AI dominating the headlines, it is time to take a realistic look at where we are today.

Investment into AI has grown significantly over the last 3 years – with enterprise spending set to hit $24bn as we see 2018 come to a close. The financial services and retail industry are leading the way, accounting for a third of the total investment, with life sciences and manufacturing not far behind. However, with all the grand claims and big number statistics, and the forecasts only set to grow exponentially again in 2019, there is a need to assimilate what AI has already achieved.

Before we dive into how businesses are leveraging AI, we should ask the question why are they leading the investment curve? The biggest driver for AI adoption is still centered around potential efficiencies. This can open avenues around increased productivity and output – creating cost savings and providing improved revenues for businesses. With machines automating certain day-to-day tasks, humans can focus on assignments that present higher ROI.  What leading industries in AI all share is a combination of the immediate cost savings, productivity potential, and highly scalable revenue generation models.

Banking has been leading the way in adoption of AI for several years. JPMorgan’s contract intelligence platform ‘COiN’ helps analyse documents for important information in a fraction of time a human otherwise could. COiN is now being used in JPM’s retail offering all the way through to the capital markets section of their business.

Citi has also been active in both the innovation and implementation of AI. Citi has invested in leading AI start-ups such as Feedzai, which provides fraud detection and prevention at scale. Citi clearly sees the potential in this industry, with machines analysing previous cases of fraud to learn preventative measures.  These case studies show real ROI, which will only grow as banks continue to utilise AI both internally and externally.

A similar theme can be seen in retail and e-commerce. Projections show that AI will increase profitability in retail by 60% by 2035. Not only are there immense opportunities for greater efficiencies in retail – but in personalising the shopping experience, retailers can make significant steps forwards in meeting their customers desires. Tackling a host of problems such as inaccurate stocking and vague catch-all marketing – AI can look to bring retail into the 21st century and leverage the mass amount of data the sector possesses. The Amazon recommendation engine illustrates how retail vendors can leverage the power of AI. Something which used to be rather clunky, is now accelerating its own development at a phenomenal pace. Instead of being an annoyance to customers, the recommendation tool now offers insight which ‘we’ now listen to almost as a trusted advisor.

Through being immersed in the AI and business community myself for a number of years, it is clear to see the huge steps forward in the implementation of this technology and how it is proving its worth to the wider public.  Four years ago, there was little talk of real-world, practical AI, with most headlines providing a fear factor. However, the positive impact AI has continued to win over its critics. AI is already enabling some incredible results – which will only be magnified and accelerated further throughout the next twelve months.

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