How To Use AI to Get Ahead of Global Competition

AI is driving a new era in business intelligence that can give your organisation a distinct competitive advantage.

by Paul Robson

posted on 08-14-2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are deeply transformative technologies, poised to change customer-business relationships and create clear-cut business advantages. However, while we’re beginning to understand the possibilities of these technologies, it’s also clear we’re just scraping the surface — the broadest-reaching implications, advances, and economic impact of AI and machine learning are only now starting to take shape.

A recent Gartner analysis predicts AI-driven global business value will reach $1.2 trillion in 2018, a 70 percent increase year-over-year. That’s just the beginning. By 2022, Gartner reports, this number is expected to hit $3.9 trillion.

As organisations strive to become experience businesses, AI technologies will help them improve digital interactions and deliver more personalised customer experiences, transform their operations and compete at the top level.

How AI drives increased business value

Organisations committed to effectively leveraging these technologies are experiencing other, often unexpected, business benefits. Thanks to predictive capabilities, business leaders can make decisions in near-real time, increasing operational efficiency and improving decision-making. By 2021, Gartner predicts, AI will create even greater business value by adding new revenue opportunities, helping companies increase sales of their existing products and services and discover opportunities for new products and services.

Impacts on the “human” worker

Another key benefit? While many worry about AI and machine learning eliminating “human” jobs, more and more organizations are seeing the opposite — AI will create new jobs in the long-run. Though AI-driven automation will eliminate about 1.8 million jobs by 2020, the technology is also projected to create 2.3 million new ones. The technology won’t completely replace humans, but it will augment what they do and empower them to do what they do best — to be creative and innovative.

Along with machine learning, AI is fundamentally transforming creative expression, business intelligence, operational efficiency and, ultimately, consumer experiences. AI’s interface has moved beyond just touching a screen and now includes voice, eyes, movement, and more. With such an explosion of customer information available in today’s digital environment, AI is empowering both enterprises and creatives by allowing them to harness deeper insights and dramatically improve productivity.

Excelling in an era of customer centricity

Though the benefits are clear, some organisations aren’t yet ready for an AI-driven business transformation. Just 15 percent of enterprises say they are using AI. This is the case despite the fact that AI drives business performance. The best-performing companies are more than twice as likely to incorporate AI in their marketing strategies — 28 percent, as opposed to only 12 percent.

That said, we’ve been thrust into a customer-centric era, and now, more than ever, embracing new technologies like AI is non-negotiable. In exchange for their loyalty, customers demand personalisation. That means brands have to be more than just suppliers of products. They need to transform themselves into experience businesses. And a modern experience business requires modern technology. You can’t go to a world of extreme levels of personalisation of one if you have people doing manual work for every communication, you need to leverage this technology to scale what you do.

Companies will need to invest in digital skills and engage “intrapreneurs” — employees who are revolutionary thinkers — within their organisations to foster an innovation mindset that drives better performance.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen says “machine learning is going change every single aspect of technology, but no machine will be able to mimic the creative ability of the human mind”. That is why business needs to be sure it has the best of both worlds — not only the finest of human capital but also the best in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

AI in Asia Pacific

Some industries across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region have already adopted AI technology, but others remain skeptical and don’t yet see a compelling need to invest in artificial intelligence. That, very simply, is a mistake. This may be due to businesses thinking accessing AI capabilities requires a heavy investment in complex technology or hard to find skills. In fact, it’s the opposite; most advanced technology companies are building AI and machine learning capability into their products and making it readily accessible to everyday business users. Put simply, preparing your enterprise for the future requires fully embracing artificial intelligence.

Enterprises in APAC, in fact, have an advantage when it comes to incorporating AI into their business processes. Because the market is small and competitive, companies must be more nimble in adopting new technology. Adopting AI, therefore, can help businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors.

An Adobe and Econsultancy study found that marketers in APAC surpass their global counterparts in terms of adopting AI and in the level of investment in digital skills training they provide employees. 53 percent of APAC marketers already use AI or plan to start using the technology in the next year.

The message that businesses need to make a strategic investment in AI to remain competitive, though, hasn’t reached everyone yet. 38 percent of Asia Pacific marketers say they don’t plan to incorporate AI into their business.

The lessons are clear; firstly, invest in the foundational technologies that enable you to label your data and content. Without investment in this foundation, you will quickly reach limitations in extracting value from AI. Secondly, explore how AI can play a role in the short term, enabling you to move faster, smarter and without a significant increase in resource, and deliver value in the long term.

Adobe is at the forefront of AI innovation. We help companies navigate their digital transformation through Adobe Sensei, the artificial intelligence and machine-learning framework that powers many of its cloud solutions. Adobe focuses its AI innovations and applications on the intersection of data and creativity and the design and delivery of digital experiences.

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