Blog: 3 Big Artificial Intelligence and Automation Trends for 2019
As we near the halfway mark of 2019, many companies are reassessing trends and predictions for technologies likely to impact their strategic decisions. Artificial intelligence (AI), and the automation it makes possible are of particular interest to many people. Businesses of all sizes and across many industries have begun focusing attention on AI and automated processes; in fact, experts believe AI will contribute nearly $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. However, new developments make headlines every day, so it can be tough to sort out the essential news from the hype.
Here are three AI and automation trends to keep in mind for your business processes this year:
1. Robotic process automation (RPA) will help businesses become more productive
Robotic process automation, or RPA, was one of last year’s most exciting automation developments. This year companies are actually implementing it into their day-to-day processes. RPA is often considered part of the bucket of AI and machine learning, but on its own, the RPA market is expected to be worth $2.1 billion by 2021.
RPA software offers many businesses the ability to automate tedious or otherwise time-consuming tasks, helping companies and employees save time and ensure process consistency. The ISG Automation Index report shows that RPA allows businesses to execute processes five to ten times faster.
An article published by TechCrunch recently indicated that cloud-computing company Oracle has integrated several AI-fueled features into its suite of sales tools, aiming to speed up manual workflows and increase efficiencies in the sales and marketing process. While RPA has traditionally been used in departments like finance and accounting, experts anticipate it will soon be adopted by businesses in industries such as insurance, healthcare, and even law. Oracle’s application of RPA to sales and marketing is just the beginning of the technology’s cross-discipline potential.
2. Natural language processing (NLP) will recognize and generate speech
Nearly 53 million adults owned a smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or Google Home at the end of 2018, according to a report by Mobile Marketer. If you’re one of those users, you’re likely familiar with the tremendous rate at which these devices are improving their natural language processing, or NLP, abilities. NLP bridges the gaps between human communication and computer understanding, and it’s continually grown more sophisticated since the first smart speaker was unveiled in 2016. Smart speakers now help people dim lights, set their heaters, make online purchases, and even schedule doctor appointments.
At this rate, we’ll soon see an even greater interest in natural language processing, for both its speech recognition and language generation aspects, throughout the rest of this year. The next advancement for smart speakers is to develop better conversational abilities and learn to process the thoughts and emotions conveyed by human speech over a prolonged period of time.
As smart speakers gain better deep learning capabilities, they’ll learn to understand sarcasm, sentiment, and underlying emotions. Similar algorithms that power smart speakers can also be used in business chatbots to serve as customer service agents, sort through sales leads, and even respond to emails on behalf of their “bosses.” Hybrid Agent+AI systems allow service agents to train the AI during the operational process and automate the majority of all incoming queries. Once conversational tools learn to better assess sentiment, they too can provide these abilities, while communicating more like humans.
3. AI will be used for automated decision-making
As AI gains traction as a vital back-end component in more and more business processes, we’ll also see an increased openness to using AI for automated decision making. According to a report from Forrester Research, 60 to 73 percent of all data within an organization goes unused. As AI algorithms become better-equipped to handle this volume, more companies will come to rely on AI to make decisions for them. For instance, rather than having customer service reps decide whether to refund a customer’s purchase, or whether to approve a mortgage for a certain applicant, AI will make those decisions automatically without the need to consult humans.
Medical professionals might be among the first to benefit from AI and automation-backed decision-making. Medical professionals are deluged by data, much of which is unstructured and underutilized. The explosion of technologies and medical devices has led to estimates that every patient will generate enough health data to fill nearly 300 million books in his or her lifetime. Meanwhile, medical research is expanding so rapidly that physicians would need at least 150 hours a week to read everything published in their field. As stated in an article from Health IT Analytics, AI can help “prioritize and triage cases to ensure patients are getting speedy access to the right care, and make sure that pathologists don’t miss key information hidden in the enormous volumes of clinical, and test data they must comb through every day.”
The remainder of 2019 and the years to follow hold a ton of promise for AI and automation technologies. If you’re one of the few who’ve yet to implement these technologies into your business processes, what are you waiting for? As AI and automation become more intelligent, more scalable, and more personable, so will your business.
Author bio: Maria is a Contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If she is not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you’ll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.