understanding AI

Artificial Intelligence is moving fast and keeps its promises

Amongst all the latest technologies in computer vision, machine learning, robotic process automation and natural language processing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving forward at full steam ahead. Thanks to AI, say goodbye to spending too much time on single, time-consuming activities. With its help, company employees can improve their performance and decisions. If we know that, now, AI is improving our efficiency and jobs in the short and long term, then the question we need to ask is this: what are best ways of understanding AI? Simply put, by detecting the major plus points of AI to reveal all its benefits, and by knowing how to optimise our usage. 

Focus on creating value

Thanks to these new technologies, we are certainly right in imagining a real divide in the world of work in something that looks very similar to Fordism, but digitalised. On the contrary to Henry Ford and his car manufacturing methods, the idea would be to move away from an era of time-rich and intellectually poor tasks. When employees no longer have to concentrate on repetitive tasks, this gives way to creativity and value creation, which are certainly strong points for business growth.

The added value of AI can be seen straight away. If we look at tasks involving first point of contact, call-backs, or follow-ups with customers, these are extremely consuming in terms of manpower, using around 10 people for more than two months at a time. Done manually, such tasks are too time-consuming and negate profitability. When done by a machine, however, such tasks are naturally removed from the employee’s time schedule, so that he or she can concentrate on far more useful work. Moreover, new staff members well-versed in the technological needs of AI will be able to assist these new machines.

Stimulate employees’ intellectual efficiency

The most recent popular example to date would be chatbots, replacing humans in customer services by answering more or less standardised questions. New virtual advisers are now available online as well as over the phone. On another note, robotic process automation (RPA) that aims to record and reproduce human behaviour now uses cognitive models to better understand human reflexes.

In the same way, machine learning is now able to translate or detect errors (voluntary or not) in real time. As for deep learning, this makes it possible to recognise an image thanks to a network of artificial neurons. To cite an example where this is particularly effective, it took less than 60 minutes to recognise all the numbers on Street View for the whole of France.

The company is able to help its employees work run smoother and to improve the answers provided to customers. Yet, we still need to use a machine which improves productivity from 30 to 50% on average.

Making work easier

While AI may be able to replace or improve an employee’s performance, it can also assist them. As AI is always available, it could, for instance, replace an employee by chatting with a customer until the adviser is free again. This effective use of down time means improved customer relations and optimised use of the employee’s time. Some robots, such as NAO or Pepper for instance, have gone one step further; these robots can understand human emotions. They now have the knack to respond to customer queries in a fluid, human tone. As a sort of warm-up exercise, this helps to put the customer in the right mood before meeting the “real”, human adviser.

Whilst robots will not replace a good adviser, they can help them in their work thanks to high-performance algorithms. For example, during a house move, the home insurer and its robot can preempt the family’s expansion and adopt the right reflexes prior to changes in family size.

Skilled knowledge is worth gold dust

As powerful as AI may be, it is hardly ever applied without knowledge of the job itself, its specific language, its habits, its restraints, or its obligations. To be able to assist a project right up to the end, the company simply has to assemble a multi-disciplined, competent team, able to integrate known AI processes.

France is a living think-tank of high potential, skilled workers, with everything it needs to be a winning team. Without wanting to get carried away, at present we should simply see AI as a very good way of creating value for us and our clients.

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Philippe LERIQUE

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